Football will be on the front page of the sports section and with the media mavens for the next few days as salary or cap cuts are announced. A fiscal version of musical chairs will commence as players – some of whom are the very best in the game – will face the ax of payroll reality.
Baseball does have a cap of sorts with the luxury tax structure. That, however, is a very “soft” one as the Red Sox and Dodgers have shown. Teams with money are willing to pay the baseball piper and move on. What if baseball had a similar cap? Who would the Red Sox cut? What would a decision day be like in the middle of spring training? A time when teams start to understand their players performance and roster needs. Imagine the feeding frenzy.
The assumption is that some bonus or guaranteed money has already been paid. That an appropriate cap figure exists and the Red Sox, dearly savoring the possibility of an ace, wish to clear some payroll under the assumption that other teams will cut high priced talent such as Cole Hamels.
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The first and most obvious selection is Clay Buchholz, who, based on his past history, would have long expired his shelf life in an NFL environment.
Buchholz is due 12M and has two team options at relatively low buyout figures. Buchholz is similar to a gifted receiver who just can’t stay on the field. No doubt the type who when released would find employment elsewhere for a fraction of his previous salary.
Allen Craig would certainly follow. A horrific 2014 would just about seal his situation. A 5.5M saved on the cap expense with other years a significantly smaller hit since the guaranteed would not be as ponderous. Craig would be similar to a power back who is on the cusp of being waived.
Shane Victorino in a football type scenario would be gone. A one-year 13M deal the Red Sox would only be concerned with a fraction of that amount. Shane would, no doubt, find offers elsewhere at a significantly lower figure. Victorino would be very similar to a 34 – year-old defensive back coming off an injury prone season.
A David Ortiz could end up like a Vince Wilfork. A valued contributor, but a costly one with questions regarding age and possible performance erosion. Ortiz, however, is signed to 16M with team options that could be re-negotiated. I could see the Red Sox releasing an Ortiz and risking a resigning.
Koji Uehara has a two-year 18M deal and for his position that is an excellent contract. A closer can nail it shut just as a quality kicker can in the NFL. If Adam Vinatieri can still be booting balls into his 40s I could see a Koji hanging around.
Mike Napoli would be similar to Victorino. Napoli would be a linebacker type would is now on the north side of age 30. The risk factor and one year cap hit of 16M would have Nap looking for employment opportunities elsewhere.
The Red Sox would be loaded up with rookie contracts. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and a few others. Some would remain under control for a bit with reasonable contracts and others are risk factors that could prove themselves and cash in or fail and cash out.