Red Sox Could Face Tall Task In Justifying Betts Trade To Fans
The "proverbial white flag has been raised atop Fenway Park" following the reported trade of Red Sox RF Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, and now the Red Sox "must convince disgruntled fans that their club will be back to prominence soon enough after engaging in the kind of creative destruction that other teams ... have used to reconfigure their teams for years to come," according to David Waldstein of the N.Y. TIMES (2/6). ESPN.com's Joon Lee wrote the Red Sox traded Betts because the team "believes its best long-term interests included dealing one of the greatest players in franchise history, and that the team can weather the PR storm the deal has created" (ESPN.com, 2/5). In Boston, Alex Speier writes a trade of a "27-year-old standout -- even one who is a full year from free agency -- for a franchise with enormous revenues and a desire to contend almost never happens." Getting under the $208M luxury tax threshold this year "could help the Red Sox pursue premium talent during or after" this season, but the "timing of the deal gave the Sox little ability to restock for the coming campaign" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/6). Also in Boston, Christopher Gasper writes the Betts trade "appears to be a straight-up salary dump." It was the Red Sox' "rebalancing of their books to avoid paying the luxury tax for a third straight season" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/6).
PLANNING AHEAD: In Massachusetts, Chris Cotillo writes even if luxury tax penalties "weren't part of the rationale" for the trade, the "savvy move for a Red Sox team that had zero assurances from Betts would have been to make sure he didn't walk for nothing" (Springfield REPUBLICAN, 2/6). In Boston, John Tomase wrote the Red Sox "will spend again, and this deal gives them the means to do it" (NBCSPORTSBOSTON.com, 2/5). Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said the Betts trade "didn't really surprise me just because there was so much talk about it." But he added, "Boston, you know they'll be back. If they're not going to be here this year, they'll be back" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/6).