Red Sox Rumors: Could Rafael Devers be traded for Manny Machado?
By Damian Dydyn
The trade deadline is looming on the horizon and with it comes speculation and Red Sox rumors. Will they trade Rafael Devers for Manny Machado?
Ken Rosenthal is one of the best baseball writers out there. But even the best can go off the rails once in a while. Such is the case with his recent trade deadline speculation piece in which he suggests the Boston Red Sox send Rafael Devers to the Baltimore Orioles for Manny Machado. It’s fine to speculate on Red Sox rumors, but this one is at least a step too far. Here’s the relevant quote:
"“Would the Sox give up say, five-plus years of third baseman Rafael Devers if the Orioles also included one of their potential free-agent relievers, Zach Britton or Brad Brach, and maybe a prospect”"
He goes on to point to Michael Chavis, currently serving an 80 game suspension for steroid use, as a reason they could part with Devers. He also points out that this would be a very Dave Dombrowski move. The problem is, it makes absolutely no sense from the Red Sox perspective. Let’s dig into why.
The Luxury Tax Threshold.
The Red Sox are already over the threshold of $197M, so what’s the harm in going even further past that figure? If you read that entire page you would see that there are tiers above the threshold that trigger additional penalties. In a season with a championship caliber team, it makes sense to take an additional tax hit. But that’s not all that’s at stake here. How does the overage structure break down?
For a first time offender, which the Red Sox are, going up to $20M past the threshold means paying 20% on every dollar you are over. At $20-40M past the threshold, it’s an additional 12%. If a team exceeds the threshold by $40M or more, the final stage of penalties kicks in. And it’s a doozy. The tax jumps to 42.5% on any overage, but that’s not all. It also moves the team’s next first round pick back ten spots in the draft order. And for those think that’s not a big deal, the Red Sox likely miss out on Triston Casas earlier this month if their pick is ten spots lower. Or, imagine that penalty being leveraged in 2015 when they selected Andrew Benintendi.
How would Machado impact that secondary threshold?
The Cot’s Baseball Contracts running salary tracker currently lists the Red Sox at $235,325,600.00 this season. That’s very close to the $237M limit before that first round pick is impacted. Manny Machado is being paid $16M this season, so even a prorated amount of that puts the Red Sox over. That’s not likely something they are willing to do.
And that’s before considering Zach Britton’s $12M contract. The contracts just don’t fit, which means the Orioles would need to eat virtually all of the money remaining on both deals. A return like Rafael Devers would likely be the best they could hope for when trading a rental package like Manny Machado and Zach Britton. So eating the contracts may well be something they are willing to do. But the money isn’t the only reason for the Red Sox to say no.