Red Sox: Could jersey sales plummet this season?
Could a star-studded Red Sox team struggle to sell jerseys this year?
Remember when buying a Boston Red Sox jersey was easy? Well, perhaps not financially easy, but choosing which player was.
David Ortiz. Manny Ramirez. Pedro Martinez. Nomar Garciaparra. Jason Varitek. Josh Beckett. Jonathan Papelbon. Dustin Pedroia. The list goes on.
The 2018 Boston Red Sox have star talent on paper, but the contracts or current situations prevent fans from feeling safe about dropping $100+ on a jersey.
It’s not often that a team has stars and young talent all over a roster without any idea of who will be there long term. Except, the 2018 Red Sox find themselves treading in uncharted territory. A franchise that has watched jerseys fly off the shelves in the past, could face declining jersey sales this season.
In past years, many fans would stroll down to the Yawkey Way Store, gander at the jersey section and have their choice of what jersey they’d like to represent for years to come. It would be like taking a kid to a candy shop. For those who don’t live local, they would have the option of ordering online through various team affiliated websites.
Yet, this season feels different.
As Boston watches the New England Patriots unsurprisingly compete for another Super Bowl, and Kyrie Irving Celtics jerseys sell out everywhere, the Red Sox and their merchandise have taken a back seat.
Yes, it is the offseason. However, Yawkey Way Store seems a bit emptier than usual, while the jersey section looks like it hasn’t been touched in months. The same amount of jerseys have been in the same spots since I checked back before Christmas.
Could this be a huge coincidence? Yes. Could the Yawkey Way Store just keep restocking the display after every single shift? Possibly.
But as the average fan who wants an outrageously expensive piece of apparel stares pensively at the player options, they’re hit with a surprising realization: Just about any of these players could be off the team in a few years.
Scrolling down the roster from the end of last season, there aren’t too many safe players to invest in.
Matt Barnes — Love him or hate him, all Red Sox fans are pulling for Matty B to finally put together a consistent season. However, unless he becomes the next Jonathan Papelbon, Barnes isn’t going to sell too many jerseys.
Joe Kelly — See above explanation and insert Kelly’s name.
Craig Kimbrel — There’s certainly potential for Kimbrel to see his name represented by a large number of fans should he repeat his success from last season. However, Kimbrel’s contract is up after this year, leaving no rational reason to spend over $100 on a player who could be gone in two years.
Drew Pomeranz — Pomeranz isn’t going to toss many complete game shutouts nor produce internet viral outings, but he’s a solid pitcher who improved majorly last season. Still, not many are going to pay for his jersey — even if he repeats last year’s success.
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Rick Porcello — Return to Cy Young form, and we may see some traction in sales for Porcello. Although last season’s numbers were dreadful, leaving doubt we’ll see Porcello turn in many Cy Young seasons in his future. He’s unlikely to see many jersey sales.
David Price — He’s 32 with decreasing velocity and control. Could he have a bounce back season? Absolutely. If he bounces back and decides to call Boston home for the rest of his career, his jersey will fly off the shelf. He’s a big-name pitcher who has dominated in the past. The problem is, Red Sox fans haven’t seen his past form take place in a Boston uniform. Oh, and he’s also one of the most hated players on the team.
Eduardo Rodriguez — If he turns into a star, then sure. But his performances haven’t indicated he will be, and certainly haven’t sold the fans to spend money for his jersey.
Chris Sale — We’ve seen quite a few Sale jerseys sold already — rightfully so — but Sale only has two years left on his contract before the Red Sox have to pay him. Hopefully, Sale continues to dominate and the Red Sox can watch his jersey become one of the most popular in MLB sales. Sale is the first player on this list that fans can buy a jersey and feel like they’ve made a safe purchase barring a monumental career collapse by Sale, or awful management by the Red Sox.
Verdict: Sale is the only safe purchase until the future of Kimbrel is revealed.
Sandy Leon — Leon fell back down to earth offensively last year, and looks more and more like a backup catcher. Unless he had a huge turn around for years to come, it’s unlikely to see many Leon jerseys around Boston.
Christian Vasquez — Vasquez is starting to emerge as a well-rounded player for the Red Sox. His defense is among the best in baseball for catchers, and his bat is starting to coming around. If he can reach Jason Varitek’s offensive production, Vasquez will certainly become a fan favorite.
Blake Swihart — Swihart still has all the potential and talent in the world, but can he stay healthy and reach it? This remains to be seen. However, he’s only 25 years old and can’t be written off yet. There’s still hope for him to become the future weapon the Red Sox view him as.
Verdict: Wait until 2019 for further analysis
Notable First Basemen:
Mitch Moreland — Moreland is essentially the older, first base version of Pomeranz. Don’t expect to see too many of his jerseys sold this year.
Sam Travis — Many in the Red Sox organization are high on Travis and view him as the starter moving forward. Maybe he’ll become a top of the order batter who’s a household name come 2019. But we can’t spend $100+ only based off of potential.
Verdict: Wait until 2019 for further analysis
Notable Second Basemen:
Dustin Pedroia — The self proclaimed captain has been one of the faces of Boston for years now. Pedroia has never had an issue selling his jerseys — you can’t walk through Fenway during baseball season without seeing hundreds of his jerseys worn — but last season’s antics really ticked a lot of people off. Pedroia, 34, has also failed to stay healthy since , leaving many to wonder how many years he has left in the tank.
With younger talent emerging and Father Time creeping, Pedroia could see a dip in jersey sales this season. He currently ranks 17th in MLB sales.
Verdict: It doesn’t seem like buying a 34-year-old’s jersey is worth it, but go for it if you have the money!
Xander Bogaerts — Bogey’s jerseys are moderately popular in Fenway, but you’ll rarely see one outside of Boston. Bogaerts hasn’t reached the stardom that many experts thought he would. If the underachieving young shortstop reaches his offensive potential, we’ll see his jersey sales skyrocket.
Buyer beware: It’s highly unlikely Boston signs all of their young players moving forward and Bogaerts has Scott Boras as his agent. Boras will make it nearly impossible for a hometown extension to be signed, leaving the 25 year old destined for a free agency bidding war in 2020.
Verdict: Not worth the risk unless Bogaerts is locked up.
Notable Third Basemen:
Pablo Sandoval — Just kidding.
Rafael Devers — If he grows up even quicker than he did last season and puts together a terrific season, his jersey may sell out everywhere and become a top 15 sold in baseball.
Verdict: If Devers produces at a high level throughout May, spend your work’s paycheck on it.
Andrew Benintendi — Just about everyone in Boston wants Benny Biceps to become the future face of the Red Sox. He has the potential to be that, and like Devers, could see his jersey become a fan favorite if he elevates his game to an even higher level than last season’s.
Jackie Bradley Jr. — He’s an elite defender who can’t seem to perform at a consistent high level on offensive. He’s also the most likely to be traded if the Red Sox need to pursue a different direction in the lineup.
Mookie Betts — Betts has no problem selling jerseys, as he’s 12th best in baseball.
Normally, he’d be a safe bet as a jersey purchase. But with contract extension refusal, and the recent arbitration settlement drama, the future for Betts in Boston is more unclear than ever.
Cause for concern? Absolutely. While the panic meter isn’t at a 10 yet, Betts sits in a similar position as Bogaerts. He’ll be an UFA in 2021, and he doesn’t seem to be in the same area code, let alone the same ballpark with Red Sox management.
Verdict: If Benintendi produces, his jersey sales will dramatically increase. Betts will sell jerseys, but fans with tighter wallets may have to wait out his future before making a financial commitment to the young star’s jersey.
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