Red Sox: How Boston will be impacted if the 2020 season is canceled

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 15: Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom addresses the departure of Alex Cora as manager of the Boston Red Sox during a press conference at Fenway Park on January 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. A MLB investigation concluded that Cora was involved in the Houston Astros sign stealing operation in 2017 while he was the bench coach. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 15: Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom addresses the departure of Alex Cora as manager of the Boston Red Sox during a press conference at Fenway Park on January 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. A MLB investigation concluded that Cora was involved in the Houston Astros sign stealing operation in 2017 while he was the bench coach. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox slash payroll for a season that may not exist

Red Sox Nation, I won’t sugar coat this for you, I have zero confidence that we’ll see the MLB in 2020. We’re entering the second week of June, the month that was designated for “Spring Training: Part Deux”, and yet we have nothing. To see the ease in which the NFL, NBA, and NHL were all able to get things figured out makes Major League Baseball look beyond amateur.

As far as the Red Sox are concerned, losing this season could have some serious monetary implications. No, I don’t mean the billionaire owners could lose a few shackles from their Scrooge McDuck pools, but this affects the team directly.

During the offseason, Boston brought in financial wizard and front office superstar Chaim Bloom to fix the fiscal mess left by Dave Dombrowski. It didn’t take long to realize the only way to get the ship back on course was a salary dump, something the Sox seemingly do every handful of years. This time though, it would involve a veteran pitcher and a generational talent.

The Luxury Tax Threshold is set at $208M, and as we all know, Boston loves spending, which makes that number tricky. Thanks to the trade that sent David Price and Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, they were able to accomplish the task.

Per Spotrac, the current total payroll is at just under $187M, well below the marker. But when you throw in all of the extras into the tax calculator, they fall at a hair under $200M. Again, well under where they need to be and leaving some breathing room for any acquisitions. But there’s a massive speed bump in the road that is the CBT, they need to play the season.

What happens to the Red Sox if there isn’t a 2020 season?

As I mentioned above, we’ve gotta have some baseball for any of this to mean anything in the long run. If the MLB and MLBPA can’t come to terms and the 2020 season is lost forever, then the CBT thresholds won’t reset.

Meaning, the Red Sox head into 2021 still in trouble with the Tax Man and in need of cutting some cash. There is a silver lining to this headache though as Boston won’t need to make as drastic of moves for next year.

Going into 2021 we’ll be seeing the newly structured deal of Price take place as the Sox will only be on the hook for $16M. Jackie Bradley Jr. will also be hitting free agency, freeing up at least $11M right on the spot. Then there’s the chance that both Martin Perez and Mitch Moreland don’t receive their club options, that’s another $9.25M.

Oh yeah, Pablo Sandoval will finally come off the books, remember that bum? That frees up yet another $5M from the payroll, giving Boston a lot more financial freedom to wheel and deal.

As we move into the future though there will be some deferred money on the books in the sum of $2,013,418, to Manny Ramirez that goes through 2023. Dustin Pedroia will also join him on the deferred list starting in 2021, also at $2M. Boston’s active payroll for 2021 is just over $126M before any of the extras get added in.

We won’t know for sure what the number will be as we need to see arbitration figures as well as new signings, but the CBT marker gets pushed to $210M, so still some more breathing room.

I decided to get a little fast and loose with the payroll tracker and went out to 2023 to see what the landscape of the Red Sox will be in a few years. Only Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts have guaranteed money thanks to the extensions they signed recently. There are a ton of players heading for arbitration by then so those numbers will be joined by some solid paydays.

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As of now, the Red Sox are looking at a guaranteed payroll of just $37.5M for 2023. It’s crazy to see that number go from $186M down to less than $50M in just a few seasons. But again, this is all a moot point if we don’t get a season this summer, it’s an absolute must. It feels like both sides want to find a middle ground but neither is willing to concede on any of their points. When hearing about these negotiations it feels like I’m watching CSPAN and not the MLB Network.

We’ve heard from guys like Dennis Eckersley and Pedro Martinez in recent days on the matter and it feels like the opinions change daily. Optimism back in April and even May has turned into heavy skepticism in the first week of June.

If this season gets played, no matter the number of games, then this past winter’s payroll gouge will be worth it and the Red Sox would’ve achieved their goal. If not, then it’s back to square one next winter, albeit, with a much easier task ahead of them.

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Either way, I think it’s incredibly depressing to see these two sides digging their heels in so deeply over this matter, especially when every other league was able to figure it out easily. I’m clinging to a small glimmer of hope that we’ll get the MLB in 2020, but with each passing day, that hope fades. For the Red Sox, I’m sure they’re hoping just as hard because they’re in for another dark offseason if a deal doesn’t get done soon.