Inflation has been a serious real-world problem in the United States throughout the last several decades. One of the areas where salaries have really seen a massive rise in just the past few years is contracts to athletes, particularly Major League Baseball players. Even before this offseason’s Winter Meetings, we had already seen a 10 year/$240 million and a 7 year/$153 million deal, and still in mid-December, there’s plenty more to come. However, in the past two years, the Red Sox have found a way to acquire quality players without compromising their future.
Oct 30, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington after game six of the MLB baseball World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. The Red Sox won 6-1 to win the series four games to two. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Last offseason’s strategy of signing second-tier players to short term contracts worked to perfection, with the Red Sox winning the World Series, and the Red Sox are again on that path in 2013. Ben Cherington and Co. have only made four moves this offseason: trading virtually nothing for Burke Badenhop, signing A.J. Pierzynski to a 1 year/$8.25 million contract, signing Edward Mujica to a 2 year/$9.5 million contract, and re-signing Mike Napoli to a 2 year/$32 million contract.
All four moves are in the same vein. While there were better players on the market in some cases– Brian McCann over A.J. Pierzynski, for instance– the top tier of players has become shockingly expensive in recent years and while McCann is a better player than Pierzynski, his .256/.336/.461 slash line is certainly not worth four years and $76.5 million more than Pierzynski’s .272/.297/.425 slash line.
Not every team can succeed using the same methods as the Red Sox front office. The Red Sox have the allure of a storied franchise, and one which just one the World Series last season, which undoubtedly helps them to sign players to discounts. However, Ben Cherington absolutely deserves credit for the team that he has helped build.
Cherington seems savvy of what the team’s needs are and how to fix them without spending obscene amounts of money (i.e. Pierzynski vs McCann). Badenhop and Mujica are candidates to be solid relievers in 2014, and Cherington was able to acquire them for cheap. The Red Sox’ organizational depth, strong farm system, and smart front office are what has allowed them to become one of, if not the model franchise going forward.