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Volume 26 No. 181
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Red Sox Looking To Cut Payroll, Raise Ticket Prices Next Season

Cutting payroll could make it difficult for the Red Sox to re-sign stars like Mookie Betts
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Cutting payroll could make it difficult for the Red Sox to re-sign stars like Mookie Betts
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Cutting payroll could make it difficult for the Red Sox to re-sign stars like Mookie Betts
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Red Sox could "present the uninspiring combination of lowering payroll while increasing ticket prices" next season, according to Jason Mastrodonato of the BOSTON HERALD. Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy said it is a "goal, not a mandate," to get the team's payroll under the $208M luxury tax threshold. He also said that he "expects ticket prices to rise for the fifth consecutive year." Kennedy: "We haven't made a decision for 2020 but I would anticipate another modest increase." Mastrodonato notes the Red Sox "froze ticket prices" ahead of the '12, '13 and '15 seasons. While ticket prices overall will likely go up, the Red Sox will "continue having a student ticket initiative, which provides an allotment of $9 tickets to students for each game." Kennedy said that the Red Sox still plan to "invest heavily in the team and that cutting payroll" next season is "likely only temporary." He added, "We've proven you can have the highest payroll in baseball and win a World Series and you can have the highest payroll and win 84 games and finish out of postseason competition" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/1).

BETTING ON BETTS: In Boston, Julian McWilliams notes Kennedy "didn't offer much comment" when asked if the team could go above the competitive balance tax to re-sign RF Mookie Betts, who becomes a free agent after next season. Kennedy said, "There’s a way. But obviously it will be difficult, given the nature and the agreements of the contracts that we have." Kennedy said that the team would "see how the offseason developed." The Red Sox '19 payroll was approximately $240M (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/1). Also in Boston, Steve Hewitt writes the Red Sox "face a difficult task in getting below the CBT next season." They have "significant money coming off the books" as some players leave in free agency, but other players are "due raises with contract extensions that begin next season." There also are "heavy raises in arbitration-eligible salaries due for some players," including Betts (BOSTON HERALD, 10/1). In Boston, Chad Finn writes the Red Sox, out of a desire to get below the CBT, are "at the very least floating trial balloons on trading arguably the most well-rounded position player we've ever seen in a Red Sox uniform." It is "nuts" that the team is "acting like some mid-market team" by cutting payroll and raising ticket prices. Finn: "They aren't the Brewers or Twins. They can afford Betts and take their lumps with the luxury tax a little longer. You don't give up this player to save money" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/1).

WHO'S ON DECK? In Boston, Sean McAdam wrote the Red Sox "aren't yet sure whether their next hire will be a president of baseball operations or a general manager," or "eventually, both." Yesterday "served as a reminder that the process could take a while." Kennedy will conduct the search for former President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski's replacement. Of the Red Sox' three "top choices in a preliminary list, only one" -- Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman -- is "working without a contract" in place for next season. Astros President of Baseball Operations & GM Jeff Luhnow and Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein also are at the "top of the list, though both have multiple years committed on their current deals." In the last decade, "only two top baseball executives have gone directly from one team to another." Kennedy said the team would "prefer" to have someone in place when GM meetings begin on Nov. 10 (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 9/30).

IN GOOD HANDS: In Boston, Peter Abraham notes Red Sox Senior VP/Major & Minor League Operations Raquel Ferreira, Senior VP & Assistant GM Zack Scott and Exec VPs & Assistant GMs Brian O'Halloran and Eddie Romero have been "collectively running baseball operations for the Red Sox" since Dombrowski's dismissal. Abraham writes if the team's "external search proved fruitless ... any of the four could handle the job well." But for now, they are "collectively running" the team while Kennedy "vets candidates to present" to Owner John Henry and Chair Tom Werner. Meanwhile, Ferreira, Scott, O'Halloran and Romero "restructured the scouting department last week, including naming a new amateur scouting director." They are also working on a plan for '20 and "preparing for other player moves." Abraham: "What looks potentially awkward from the outside has so far worked smoothly" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/1).