The Mookie Betts trade is already a pretty tough pill for a lot of Red Sox fans to swallow. It’s about to get even tougher, however, as the most notable piece of that trade coming back to Boston, Alex Verdugo, is likely to miss the start of the season.
That’s the word from Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, who reported yesterday that Verdugo has a bad back. It’s apparently a continuation of the oblique and back issues which caused him to miss the final two months of the 2019 season for the Dodgers. The Red Sox, Speier, reports, were aware of the lingering issues while negotiating the trade and do not believe them to be serious or long-term problems, but it’s not the sort of thing that’s gonna make your average Sox fan feel so much better about the trade.
Verdugo, 23, got his first extended stint in the majors last year and hit .294/.342/.475 with 12 homers, 44 RBI, and 43 runs scored in 377 plate appearances. His presumed absence to start the season is likely at least part of the reason the Sox went out and signed free agent Kevin Pillar to a one-year $4 million deal yesterday. Pillar, a defensive whiz, hit .259/.287/.432 with 21 homers and 14 steals over 161 games between the Blue Jays and Giants last year.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.
Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.
If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.
Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.