September 15, 2019

THE UNLEARNED LESSON:

Sox could learn something from John Henry's other team (BILL KOCH, 9/14/19, The Providence (R.I.) Journal)

Boston's roster construction in 2019 paid little attention to that basic principle. Three contracts in particular -- David Price, Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi -- are untradeable, and all were negotiated by Dombrowski. No opposing executive would consummate any deal with those three players involved unless there was a significant asset attached. Price, Sale and Eovaldi are on the Red Sox books for $73.6 million in each of the next three seasons.

That lack of flexibility comes prior to what could be an offseason of considerable transition. The next hire for Dombrowski's old position faces serious questions that will shape the Red Sox roster for years to come. Resolving the immediate futures of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello and Brock Holt is bound to cause some headaches.

Boston has what feels like unlimited financial resources, but spending through the final threshold of the competitive balance tax every season isn't the answer. The Red Sox can pay the fines to Major League Baseball, but losing draft position is something the organization can't afford. Boston's farm system is improving but remains ranked in the bottom third among 30 franchises.

What must make this particularly vexing for Henry is how perfectly his Liverpool machine is humming along at the moment. In June, their roster management culminated in a sixth UEFA Champions League title, the world's premier competition in club soccer. Liverpool's players on average are younger, cheaper and were more prudently acquired than the current Red Sox group by light years.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the lone product of the club's academy system who is a regular contributor, a brilliant 20-year-old fullback who is now an England national team regular. The other 10 starters against Tottenham in the final were acquired at an average age of 24 years old -- each of them still had considerable room to grow and improve. The three players Liverpool brought off the bench included two purchased as teenagers and a third, James Milner, who was a 29-year-old free transfer from Manchester City.

Liverpool's two most expensive players, defender Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker, were acquired to address specific areas of need. The Reds spent a combined $175 million to shore up their leaky back line, adding the final missing pieces to a club that was ready to contend for titles. The Red Sox signing J.D. Martinez the year after finishing last in the American League in home runs is an appropriate comparison.

The difference here is how the available funds were generated. The Red Sox took another significant chunk out of their CBT allotment -- Martinez's salary last season counted for about 9% of the $237 million available, which Boston plowed through to win a championship. Liverpool reinvested the $130 million they took in by selling disgruntled midfielder Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.

The Reds had purchased Coutinho from Inter Milan for just $10.5 million as a 20-year-old and cashed in for two reasons -- his value had reached its maximum, and more help was needed elsewhere on the roster.

PEDs made baseball management forget that no pitcher should ever get a contract longer than three years.

Posted by at September 15, 2019 8:10 AM

  

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