President Dave Dombrowski was the first piece to go from the 2018 Red Sox world championship team when he was fired last night, but he’s not going to be the last. Moreover, the fact that the Red Sox were ready and willing to move on from him right now only underscores the transformative offseason they might have – and it could ripple out to have a significant impact on the overall market.
We already knew that the Red Sox might explore shopping superstar Mookie Betts, but even if JD Martinez doesn’t exercise his opt-out and sticks around, he too might be shopped.
Within: The Red Sox almost surely won’t retain both Betts and Martinez – their flexibility to do so having eroded w/deals for Eovaldi/Sale. The question of whether to extend or fire Dombrowski was a question of who to trust with a difficult balancing act https://t.co/HXoYqQDox3
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) September 9, 2019
There are actually decent reasons to consider trading Betts and Martinez, mind you, but the rationale, as it is tied to the Dombrowski firing, should scare Cubs fans a little bit as they think about the Cubs’ current luxury tax situation:
“In re-signing Eovaldi and then reaching a long-term deal with Chris Sale, Dombrowski put the Sox in a position where – based on their payroll projections and a significant desire to get under the luxury tax threshold sometime in the next two years to reset the penalty structure – they’ll likely end up parting with J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, or possibly even both this winter.”
Hopefully we don’t have to get into this “get under the luxury tax one year to reset” conversation too soon, but as we’ve seen with the Dodgers, Yankees, and now Red Sox, even the major-est market of major market teams make it a consideration. And one sure-fire way to help smooth that narrative is to fire your president, and bring in a new young guy who is going to want to restructure the roster a bit anyway.
As for Betts and Martinez, they will be pricey short-term assets on the market for teams that want huge short-term impact. They will also be alternatives to teams that don’t want to commit $200 million in the long-term for someone like Anthony Rendon. And they will *also* be alternatives if the Cubs decided, for example, to listen to offers for someone like Kris Bryant, as they may do.