Even after being met with a cacophony of boos at Winter Weekend, the Red Sox's fan festival, the front office is continuing its offseason plan with conviction.
When management greeted the media before Winter Weekend's welcome event, CEO Sam Kennedy stated that the 2024 payroll will likely be less than that of 2023. Boston did not crack the first luxury tax threshold last year, and there's nothing to suggest the team plans to do so this year.
But Red Sox fans are begging the front office to spend money, and they have a reason to equate spending money with success for the club. The Red Sox had the highest-paid roster in the league in 2018 at $241 million, and the 2018 Sox were one of the most successful baseball teams of all time. Whenever the front office claims that spending excess amounts of money doesn't work, fans don't want to hear it.
Owner John Henry pivoted to a money-saving model seemingly as soon as he put the 2018 World Series trophy down for the last time. He traded Mookie Betts in one of the worst moves in MLB's recent memory just to save himself some cash. Since that trade, Xander Bogaerts has also left Boston — another casualty to Henry's penny-pinching.
Besides the Los Angeles Dodgers, who committed to a mind-blowing paycheck for Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, few other teams have spent much money during a relatively slow offseason. One of the few is close to the Red Sox, and it's a team they usually strive to compete with.
Hearing fan concerns in real-time at Winter Weekend didn't stop Red Sox front office from committing to reducing payroll
The New York Yankees have made clear strides toward improvement this winter. The Bronx has opened its doors to Juan Soto this season and Carlos Rodón last season. Soto was awarded a record-breaking contract in arbitration, earning himself $31.5 million, and he deserves it for slotting into the Yankee order around slugger Aaron Judge.
The Yankees heard all of the fan criticism from the past few seasons, and while they haven't been as noncompetitive as the Red Sox have been, they're still making an effort to fix their deficiencies. That's more than Boston's front office can say for itself.
What Boston's front office does have to say, though, is that spending money doesn't guarantee victories. And while they're technically correct, hearing such statements from a group of millionaires after they've led the team to three last-place finishes in four years doesn't feel great, especially after ticket prices at Fenway Park have risen, yet again, without justification.
The Red Sox have a very similar, if not worse, team than the group that took the field in 2023. Boston wasn't competitive then, and the other team racing for fifth place, the Yankees, has gotten better this offseason. Why Boston's front office expects fans to believe its assertions that it'll be competitive without making any changes, Red Sox Nation may never know.
There are still hundreds of tickets available for the Red Sox's Opening Day game against the Orioles. Many fans have decided the product that Boston's front office is putting out isn't worth the price of a day at Fenway Park, or the agony of watching a big-market team put out a small-ball roster.
Spending on an ace or a powerful bat is the only path to success for Boston this year. Somehow, fans understand what it would take to field a competitive squad, while the front office turns a blind eye to reality.
Opening Day is just over two months away. Ownership still has time to change their minds and their attitude towards spending money. And Sox fans everywhere hope they will.