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Report: Red Sox unlikely to retain Mookie Betts and/or J.D. Martinez

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Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are unlikely to retain outfielder Mookie Betts and/or DH J.D. Martinez. One or both are likely to be traded this winter. The Red Sox purportedly do not have the payroll flexibility to afford both given the recent signings of pitchers Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi.

The Red Sox currently have a payroll over $236 million, exceeding the competitive balance tax threshold for a second straight year. Last year, the CBT threshold was $197 million, this year it’s $206 million. The Red Sox will pay a penalty on the $30 million overage, 30 percent ($9 million) plus a 12 percent penalty ($3.6 million) for exceeding the CBT threshold between $20-40 million. To a layperson, these are huge penalties. To a billionaire, they are drops in the ocean. Even to a team, it’s the cost of a free agent reliever.

John Henry, who is the principal owner of the Red Sox (and The Boston Globe), has a net worth of $2.7 billion, according to Forbes. Henry and the Red Sox could keep both Betts and Martinez if they really wanted to. The CBT, of course, was designed to give team owners a reason to limit their investments in their teams, so it’s working exactly as intended.

Betts, 26, is the reigning AL MVP Award winner. He hasn’t had quite as strong a 2019, though still quite good. He’s been worth 6.3 WAR behind superb defense and a balanced offensive approach. He’s hitting .291/.389/.525 with 40 doubles, 27 home runs, 77 RBI, 128 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 665 plate appearances.

Martinez, 32, is likewise having a terrific year though not quite as productive as his 2018. He’s hitting .308/.384/.577 with 35 home runs and 94 RBI in 592 PA.

Betts is earning $20 million this year and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after the season. Martinez inked a five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox in February 2018. The contract, however, allows him to opt out of his contract after both 2019 and 2020 with no buyout. It’s difficult to imagine Martinez will choose to opt out. What’s not difficult to imagine is the Red Sox drawing significant interest if they do indeed make either or both players available via trade.

Doubleheader between Cardinals and Tigers postponed

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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A doubleheader between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers this week is being postponed to allow more time for additional COVID-19 testing.

MLB opted to postpone Thursday’s doubleheader to continue additional testing while players and staff are quarantined before the team returns to play. More details about the Cardinals’ resumption of play will be announced later this week.

The Cardinals had a series against Pittsburgh set to start on Monday postponed after a weekend series against the Cubs was scrapped due to three positive coronavirus tests.

St. Louis had two more players and a staff member test positive for the virus on Friday and have had eight positive players overall, including star catcher Yadier Molina.

There have now been 29 games postponed by Major League Baseball because of coronavirus concerns. The Cardinals have not played since July 30 and have had 15 games scrapped.

Miami and Philadelphia each had seven games postponed earlier and have returned to the field since the disruptions.

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