Don’t forget about the cost savings.
And now we’re back to salary. Only this time, it’s from the angle of signing extensions for the other young studs on the roster. The team is going to need to extend some or all of Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Joe Kelly, Xander Bogaerts, and Brock Holt by 2021. Having Devers manning third base for the league minimum goes a long way toward making it possible for the team to secure most of that talent. Let’s just say, for the moment, that the team is able to work out an extension for Manny Machado as part of the trade. That’s probably $30M per year tied up going forward.
Who from the above list do they let go to make that happen? Of that group, Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, and Xander Bogaerts are all in line for big pay days. Bogaerts may be closer to $20M a year than $30M, but both Betts and Sale will be in that range. Can the team carry both along with David Price for a combined $90 million on top of Machado? I’m not so sure. For one year, it might be worth blowing past that secondary tax threshold, but this would make it tough to get back under in the near future. Chances are the Red Sox would let one of those three go to make the Machado money work.
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Is Machado worth it?
There’s an argument for that being worth it. But if the team can have Devers giving them 85% of what Machado does next year for the league minimum, wouldn’t you pick that? And before you scoff, that’s not an outrageous hope. Machado is basically a lock for 35 HR in any given year. 85% of that would be 30, which is just a nominal step forward from the rate Devers has hit at so far. And if his 77 games in AA are any indication, his OBP and SLG should rebound to respectable levels. Even his 58 games in the majors last year suggest he’s going to see positive regression.
We could assume that his age 20 2017 season is what he’ll be his entire career, and I’d still pick that over paying Machado market rate this winter. A 111 wRC+ with a .338 OBP, a .482 SLG and 28 HR over 162 games at league minimum is hugely valuable. So no, I don’t think a trade for Machado is worth it, even if he will sign an extension. Reasonable minds can disagree on that particular idea, but even that is likely a moot point. It seems incredibly unlikely that he will forgo free agency this winter, which makes this a rental trade. And you simply don’t give up a player like Rafael Devers in a trade for a rental. Or two rentals.