Red Sox Owner John Henry in Talks With Acquisition Firm To Take Fenway Sports Group Public

Want to own a share of the Red Sox? Well, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo and Miriam Gottfried, that could become a realistic possibility relatively soon.

Per Lombardo and Gottfried, Red Sox principal owner John Henry is in preliminary talks with blank-check firm RedBall Acquisition Corp. to take Fenway Sports Group public.

The plan would be for RedBall to raise $1 billion in funds that would coincide with the $575-plus million the firm raised over the summer. With those funds, RedBall in turn would be able to purchase a stake in FSG which would be worth no more than 25% of the company.

Because talks between the two sides are still ongoing, it is worth mentioning that this deal could fall apart. If talks do not fall through, though, the Red Sox could become one of the few publicly traded American sports franchises. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers are a prime example of one.

Henry, who turned 71 last month, originally purchased the Red Sox for $660 million in February 2002. Since that time, Henry has seen his club end an 86-year championship drought and win four World Series titles.

According to Forbes, the Red Sox are currently worth $3.3 billion, while Fenway Sports Group, which includes the Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Park, and New England Sports Network, is worth a total of $6.6 billion.

FSG going public with RedBall would reportedly raise its value to approximately $8 billion including debt. For more details on this, I would recommend checking out the above tweet.

Former Red Sox Star Mookie Betts Officially Signs 12-Year, $365 Million Extension With Dodgers

Former Red Sox star Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in agreement on a 12-year, $365 million contract extension, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Per Passan, because Betts is under contract for $27 million ($10 million in prorated salary) this season, the total value of his extension with Los Angeles is $392 million over the next 13 years. Also from Passan:

And from the Dodgers, it’s now official:

Prior to being dealt to Los Angeles in February, Betts and the Red Sox were reportedly $120 million apart in extension talks, as Boston had offered the 27-year-old $300 million over 10 years and Betts countered with $420 million over 12 years, according to WEEI’s Lou Merloni.

The two sides obviously could not reach a compromise though, as the 2018 American League MVP was eventually traded to the Dodgers with left-hander David Price in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo and prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.

As his tenure with the Red Sox was winding down, it appeared as though Betts was set on becoming a free agent this winter. But, due to the financial insecurities across baseball that have stemmed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the Tennessee native had a change in heart and decided to take the money when he could.

With this record-setting extension, Betts will be under contract through the end of the 2032 season. By then, the former fifth-round pick will be 39 years old.

This news also marks the end of any speculation that Betts could re-sign with the Red Sox as a free agent this winter, as had been the hope among fans when the four-time All-Star was traded away.

If Betts continues to be as productive as he has since making his first Opening Day roster in 2015, he’ll likely be on a Hall of Fame trajectory. In other words, he’ll eventually be donning a Dodgers cap on his plaque in Cooperstown.

Even after five months, it’s still somewhat mind-boggling that the Red Sox would trade a player of Betts’ caliber. Without taking the financial aspects into consideration, which are important, Betts is just about everything you would want in a professional baseball player. From being a once-undervalued homegrown talent to an MVP and perennial All-Star. he was the perfect face of the franchise for Boston. It’s just too bad John Henry and Co. didn’t value that as much as the Dodgers clearly do.

Red Sox Make Pay Cuts for Employees Making Upwards of $50K; Said One Staffer: ‘People Are Livid’

The Red Sox have begun implementing pay cuts to their non-playing staff, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich.

Per Drellich, these pay cuts are for those employees making $50,000 or more per year and are tiered in the following fashion.

“Salary of $50K-99K is 20%

$100 to $499K is 25%

$500K-plus is 30%”

As Drellich notes, the employees who make $100,000 are being treated in just about the same way those making upwards of $500,000 are, which has led to the following statement from a Red Sox staffer:

“People are livid.”

This news was apparently broken at a company meeting held by the Red Sox on Friday night, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. In this particular meeting, the club announced that there would be no furloughs or layoffs, just salary cuts for those employees making upwards of $50,000 as previously mentioned.

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox announced that 22 minor-league players had been released on Thursday, so it definitely appears that John Henry, Tom Werner, and Co. are trying to cut down on costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the 2020 baseball season on hold for the time being.

MLB Owners Approve Proposal for 2020 Season, League Will Present Plan to Players’ Union Tuesday

Major League Baseball owners have approved a proposal from the league for the 2020 season to present to the MLB Players’ Union, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The two sides are expected to meet sometime on Tuesday to discuss said plan.

This marks another step towards potentially getting Major League Baseball this year, and as ESPN’s Jeff Passan states, “now is when it starts to get serious.”

Of course, where things go from here depends on how the players’ union feels about all this.

For starters, “Because games, at least initially, will be played without fans, the players’ would be asked to accept a further reduction in pay, most likely by agreeing to a set percentage of revenues for this season only.”

This idea of revenue sharing is apparently a ‘non-starter’ in any proposal the union gets from the league, per The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Other hurdles include “making players comfortable with protocols/personnel/equipment that play can resume safely,” as well as where teams will play their games.

More specifically, according to Rosenthal, “Teams unable to open in their cities [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] temporarily would relocate, either to their spring training sites or major-league parks in other parts of the country. The same would apply to spring training 2.0 if the league decides to use mostly home parks as opposed to returning to Florida and Arizona.”

The problem with this is that “Not all clubs agree they should train in their home parks, believing spring locales offer a less densely populated, more controlled environment.”

Regionalized schedules consisting of anywhere between 78-82 games and expanded playoffs have also been discussed, while a universal designated hitter and expanded rosters could also be implemented if there is indeed baseball in 2020.

That final part, for now, is still up in the air, though. And although I can’t say for sure, it would appear that the players’ union has final say on the matter. We should hear more about where the MLBPA goes with this on Tuesday.

 

Changes Likely Coming to Red Sox’ Uniforms Sometime in Near Future

For the most part, the uniforms donned by the Red Sox have remained unchanged over the last few decades. 

There have been subtle changes here and there, such as the addition of a blue alternate road jersey in 2009 or the decision to go from blue lettering back to red lettering on the primary road jersey in 2014, but out of the 30 clubs that Major League Baseball is comprised of, the Red Sox have one of the more classic looks in the game, as they should.

Still, that has not stopped team higher-ups from discussing how to further modernize the Sox’ look moving forward, especially now that Nike took over as MLB’s official uniform outfitter last winter.

“We are looking at changes as we go forward,” team president Sam Kennedy told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “[The changes will be] likely geared to get us to a uniform that is geared towards high performance. We will always be respectful of our incredible traditional look and feel, but we are always open to new and different concepts as time goes by.”

With Nike providing the Red Sox with their uniforms for the foreseeable future, the hope is that more technology can be implemented into any new uniform so that players can be more comfortable while actually playing baseball.

For instance, according to team executive vice president of partnerships Troup Parkinson, Red Sox ownership is really more focused on fit than anything else in talks about potential new uniforms.

“They think that, for example, Nike can bring tons of technology to the fit and hopefully help the performance of the athlete,” Parkinson said. “[It’s] happened in basketball and in football, but, amazingly, in baseball it hasn’t. The [players], if you talk to them, they will say the uniform doesn’t fit.”

Per Jennings, Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner are “heavily involved” in decisions regarding the club’s uniforms and overall aesthetic look. Such decisions include changing primary logos, adding alternate jerseys, changing up batting practice looks, and sticking with batting helmets with a shiny finish rather than a matte one.

“John and Tom are both very engaged in uniform design,” said Kennedy. “They both have a passion for the look and feel of the brand. In terms of the Red Sox, while we have not made dramatic changes in our time here, we had had some relatively minor adjustments, driven by ownership’s desire to preserve our traditional look while modernizing a bit.”

To add on to that, Parkinson himself said that he expects subtle changes to the Red Sox’ uniforms to come at some point in the ‘near future.’

As Jennings puts it, these potential changes “likely won’t be wholesale or drastic changes, but they will be noticeable, especially for a fan base that’s grown attached to the current look. Which is the old look. Which is the classic look.”

What could these changes to Boston’s uniforms look like? Well, it’s tough to say.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox employ a five-jersey rotation (home whites, road grays, red home alternates, navy blue road alternates, and those special Patriots’ Day whites) to go along with white pants at home and gray pants on the road. All these uniforms are worn with the standard navy blue cap with a red ‘B’ front and center.

The home whites with the arching ‘Red Sox’ across the chest and the red piping around the collar and down the front of the jersey, for the most part, have remained a constant throughout the club’s storied history. They went with pullover tops and a predominantly red cap for a little bit there in the 1970’s, but that trend did not last into the following decade.

The road grays, meanwhile, have either featured ‘Boston’ across the chest in red or navy blue font since the turn of the century. The ‘Hanging Sox’ logo was added to the left sleeve of the road jerseys in 2010 and have been present since.

In terms of alternate looks, the red alternates worn at home have been in rotation since 2003 and have since been given a more modern look through the removal of the original blue piping that went around the collar and down the middle of the jersey.

As mentioned earlier, the navy blue alternates worn on the road were added to the mix in 2009. For whatever reason, they do not feature the ‘Hanging Sox’ logo on the left sleeve.

All in all, it’s a pretty solid mix of tradition and color rolled into one set of uniforms. It’s somewhat difficult to see how something already so good could be improved upon.

Then again, Parkinson told Jennings that “he actually likes to hear unusual uniform and branding ideas from outside companies (like Nike in this case) – those outsiders presumably are not as emotionally attached to the current look, and might offer much-needed perspective – but those partners rarely, if ever, suggest anything too far outside the box.”

Nike has proven to get creative with the looks of other historic franchises across different sports while also keeping that team’s history and tradition in tact, like with the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers.

If I could throw out some ideas here, I’d say that I would not mind seeing the Red Sox go back to wearing gray jerseys with the navy blue ‘Boston’ across the chest while on the road. That incorporates more of the team’s legacy into their look and may be nostalgic for older fans.

Speaking of nostalgia, it’s been said before, but bring back the 70’s throwbacks that we saw briefly in 2015 and 2016. It’s definitely a fun look.

gettyimages-472283080-594x594
BOSTON, MA – MAY 5: Koji Uehara #19 of the Boston Red Sox reacts with Dustin Pedroia #15 after he pitched a scoreless ninth inning to beat Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 at Fenway Park May 5, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Also, could it be possible that the Red Sox would remove the red piping from their primary home jerseys? It’s the only jersey in the current mix that still features piping, although it is arguably their most classic feature.

Lastly, I’ve written about it in the past, but it would be interesting to see the Sox wear the red jerseys on the road and the blue jerseys at home. Mix it up a little, you know?

Other than that, I’m definitely curious to see what tweaks Nike and the Red Sox have in store for the team’s look. Not exactly sure when any changes will be revealed to the public, though.

What If the Red Sox Moved to the South Boston Waterfront?

Before purchasing the Los Angeles Dodgers for $430 million in 2004, Frank McCourt had interest in becoming owner of his hometown team, the Boston Red Sox.

The Watertown native, having been the grandson of a Boston Braves co-owner in addition to the man in charge of the McCourt Company, a large asset and investment firm that specialized in real estate, had his eyes on purchasing the Sox when the club went up for sale in late 2000.

Two decades prior to that, McCourt had taken over several acres of land in South Boston, or more specifically, the Seaport District, that had once been an abandoned waterfront rail-yard and converted that land into parking lots.

With that property, McCourt envisioned a new ballpark for the Red Sox had he successfully come out on top in the bidding war.

“Great site for a ballpark,” McCourt told the late, great Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe in 2004. “We thought so. HOK [Sport in Kansas City, which builds ballparks] told me it was the single best ballpark site in America. And they designed Pac Bell (Oracle Park in San Francisco). We believed it was a great site, but not everyone agreed.”

Thanks to a rendering from StadiumPage.com, we can see what a major-league ballpark in the Seaport District would potentially look like.

At the time, McCourt owned approximately 25 acres of land in the area, and he intended on using 10 of them for the ballpark.

“It’s a prime piece of real estate, and we have an idea about how it could be used to anchor the team in Boston,” McCourt said in 2001. ”It’s snug, but it fits.”

The lot was also conveniently within close proximity of several transportation hubs in the city, including South Station and the Massachusetts Turnpike. That is something McCourt and his aides made sure to point out to local government and business officials as well as reporters.

A las, then-Boston mayor Thomas Menino and then-Red Sox CEO John Harrington never publicly backed McCourt’s ballpark proposal. In fact, at least two of the seven bidding groups had looked into ballpark sites in the South Boston area, according to The Boston Globe’s Meg Vaillancourt.

As it turns out, McCourt was really no where close to successfully winning the bid for the Red Sox, as the club, as well as Fenway Park and New England Sports Network, were sold to a group consisting of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino for a whopping $700 million in December 2001.

The value of the Red Sox has only skyrocketed since Henry and Co. took over nearly 19 years ago, while McCourt went on to use the Seaport land he owned as collateral to help finance his $430 million purchase of the Dodgers from News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group in January 2004.

Despite decent on-the-field success, McCourt’s tenure as Dodgers owner was rather tumultuous. So much so that the Dodgers had to file for bankruptcy in June 2011 before McCourt agreed to sell the club for more than a record-setting $2 billion to a group consisting of the Guggenheim Partners, former Lakers star Magic Johnson, and former Braves and Nationals president Stan Kasten among the others the following March.

McCourt still has a vesting interest in professional sports, as he purchased French soccer club Olympique de Marsielle for about $45 million in 2016.

Per Forbes’ latest MLB valuations from earlier this month, the Dodgers and Red Sox today are the second and third-most valuable franchises in baseball behind only the New York Yankees. It would be interesting to see what those valuations would look like had McCourt been successful in purchasing the Red Sox rather than the Dodgers.

If he had been successful in purchasing the Red Sox, it also would have been fascinating to see what McCourt’s Seaport ballpark proposal would look like in real time.

The thought of the Red Sox calling a ballpark outside of Fenway Park home is odd, to say the least. There have been times where I wished the Sox played in a modern, more comfortable stadium, but at the same time, I understand the desire to keep the team at Fenway. It’s a historic relic at this point that deserves to be preserved.

Still, the allure of the Red Sox playing in a location that could offer great skyline views of the city from a different vantage point is certainly something to ponder, especially since the land in South Boston once owned by McCourt and now owned by developer John B. Hynes and Morgan Stanley remains mostly untouched.

 

 

 

Looking at How the Red Sox’ World Series Odds Changed Over the Course of a Hectic Offseason

If Major League Baseball is to be played in 2020, the Red Sox currently stand as long-shots to capture their 10th World Series title this fall, or perhaps winter.

As recently as this past Tuesday, March 31st, the Red Sox’ odds to win the World Series this year stood at +3667, according to SportsBettingDime.com. In other words, if you bet $100 on the Sox to win the Fall Classic and they do, your total payout would be $3,767.

Compare that to the reigning American League East champion New York Yankees’ most recent odds of winning the 2020 World Series (+367), and it’s clear to see that the Red Sox are underdogs coming off a turbulent offseason to say the least.

Right around the time the offseason began after the Washington Nationals won their first World Series title, Boston’s odds of winning in 2020 stood at +1200 as of November 1st, which were good for the third-best in the American League.

Since that time though, the Sox’ chances of winning have gotten significantly worse, as one might expect with the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in February, as well as the recent news that ace left-hander Chris Sale needed and underwent successful Tommy John surgery last month that will sideline the 31-year-old for the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

With Betts at the top of the lineup and Price maintaining a top spot in the rotation, the Red Sox looked like a team that could still at least compete for a Wild Card spot this coming season even with injury concerns surrounding Sale.

Instead of Betts and Price, who served as important clubhouse leaders in recent years, reporting to Red Sox camp, the two were instead dealt to the Dodgers as part of an earlier-set goal put in place by Sox ownership to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold.

In his first offseason as Boston’s chief baseball officer, Chaim Bloom did just that by packaging Price, who is owed $96 million over the next three years, and Betts, who will earn $27 million in his final year of salary arbitration, in the same deal.

The Red Sox will pay about half of what is owed to Price over the next three seasons, while Betts was already viewed as a potential trade candidate anyway since he seemed and still seems locked in on becoming a free agent for the fist time this winter.

Despite the financial flexibility gained in parting ways with Betts and Price, the competitive state of the club certainly didn’t get any better even with three controllable players coming back from Los Angeles.

Take these numbers for what they’re worth. On February 3rd, the day before the first, now-voided three-team trade between Boston, Los Angeles, and the Minnesota Twins was reported, the Red Sox’ odds to win the World Series stood at +2067.

Fast forward to February 10th, one day after Boston and Los Angeles agreed to terms on a new trade between just themselves, the Sox’ odds to win the World Series fell to +3433. They have only gotten worse since then, as previously mentioned.

Bloom was dealt a difficult hand as soon as he took over as the head of the Red Sox’ baseball operations department last October. As he said himself at the time the trade was made official in February, “Our biggest goal…is to put ourselves in position to compete and win sustainably for as many years as we can.”

The club will never admit it publicly, but as the oddsmakers and sportsbooks have indicated, trading two of their better players in Mookie Betts and David Price certainly hurt the Red Sox’ chances of competing in 2020 once baseball does finally return.

As Opt-Out Decision Looms, J.D. Martinez Is Officially on the Clock

Even though there is still one game remaining in this year’s installent of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros on Wednesday night, a former Astro in J.D. Martinez is on the clock.

Yes, the 32-year-old now has until 5 PM eastern time next Monday to decide whether or not he will opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million of his contract and become a free agent.

Martinez originally inked a five-year, $110 million deal with Boston back in February 2018. A deal that included built in opt-outs after the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons.

In the two seasons he has spent with the Sox to this point, the Florida native ranks second among qualified American League hitters in home runs (79), first in RBI (235), sixth in runs scored (209), and second in slugging percentage (.593).

While introducing new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on Monday, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said that he does not know what Martinez’s decision will be and that, “We’ll find out very soon.”

A client of super agent Scott Boras, Martinez may be enticed to enter free agency once again, as at 32, he may only have one last chance to earn a sizable contract in terms of both length and dollar figures.

In the following days leading into Monday evening, the Red Sox will have exclusive negotiating rights with their two-time All-Star slugger, as well as their other free agents. Martinez could reach a decision as early as 9 AM on Thursday, per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

If Martinez were to opt out of his contract, the Sox would owe him a buyout in the form of $2.5 million. They would also more than likely extend him a qualifying offer in this scenario, which will be worth $17.8 million this offseason. That way, any club that signed Martinez would also owe Boston a compensatory draft pick, one that would fall after the fourth round of the 2020 amateur draft.

Given how Henry and chairman Tom Werner have essentially made it clear that they would like to cut down on payroll this winter, it should be interesting to see how serious the club is about bringing Martinez back if he does indeed opt out.

Red Sox Formally Introduce Chaim Bloom as Their New Chief Baseball Officer

The Red Sox officially named Chaim Bloom as their new chief baseball officer on Monday afternoon through a press conference that featured Bloom himself, principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and team president Sam Kennedy. Brian O’Halloran was also formally promoted to general manager, marking the first time Boston has had a GM since 2016.

“We’ve tried to keep up with the change in nature of the baseball operations landscape,” Kennedy said of Bloom’s new title. “We value the collaboration and brainpower and institutional knowledge that our incredible team of baseball operations folks have.”

In his new role with his new organization, Bloom, who is coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays after 15 seasons working various roles, most recently as senior vice president of baseball operations, will have plenty of tough decisions to make right from the jump.

The futures of two Red Sox All-Stars, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, are among those, with Betts having one year remaining in arbitration before reaching free agency for the first time next winter, and Martinez having five days to decide whether or not to opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million on his current contract once the World Series comes to a close later this week.

“Our top priority is sustainability and competitiveness over the long term,” Bloom said when asked about Betts and Martinez. “That can take many forms but that’s really going to be the top priority. There’s a lot I don’t know. I’m just coming in here. So I’m looking forward to building relationships with them.”

The theories surrounding what the Sox plan to do with Betts has been a hot topic since the club’s 2019 season ended last month. So much so that Henry discussed it, as well as Martinez’s situation, when describing what the interview process with Bloom was like.

“We talked about that there are a lot of tough decisions to make during this offseason. That’s not uncommon,” Henry said. “We talked about Mookie, J.D. other issues, but we didn’t focus on what should we do.”

As has already been indicated by Red Sox ownership, it is a goal, not a mandate, to get the team’s 2020 payroll under the $208 million luxury tax threshold. Betts, who is projected to earn $27.7 million in his final year of salary arbitration, and Martinez, who would earn $23.75 million next year if he opts in, would account for approximately 24.7% of that $208 million.

“You’re going to look at a number of factors,” said Henry. “Including where Mookie wants to play in the long-term.”

If the Red Sox were to offer Betts a contract extension and the 27-year-old were to turn it down, a trade would not be out of the question. Bloom did discuss how integral a quality farm system is for a team’s long-term success. Even with one year left of team control, Betts still could garner a hefty return in terms of prospects in a potential trade.

How Bloom makes his mark in his tenure with the Red Sox will be something to pay attention to for the foreseeable future. Someone who came up in a club with limited financial resources now has a great deal more to work with. How he utilizes those will be worth monitoring as Boston heads towards an offseason full of uncertainties.

Red Sox Tab Chaim Bloom as New Head of Baseball Operations

The Red Sox have hired Rays senior vice president Chaim Bloom to be their next head of baseball operations, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

This news comes the day after it was reported that the Sox had interviewed Bloom for the position.

The 36-year-old Yale University product had been with Tampa Bay since 2005, initially serving as an intern for the club before working his way up to GM Erik Neander’s second-in command as vice president of baseball operations in November 2016.

At the time of former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski’s dismissal from the Red Sox, principal John Henry made it clear that he would prefer to get under the $208 million luxury threshold for the 2020 season.

In hiring Bloom to run their baseball operations department, the Philadelphia native will surely be tasked with doing just that, as he is coming over from an organization that put up impressive results the last two years (90 wins in 2018, 96 wins in 2019) despite operating on a minuscule payroll.

The specific details of Bloom’s appointment are not yet known, as the Red Sox themselves have yet to make anything official. But, this appears to be a move that is well regarded across the baseball world, so that is certainly positive to see.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan quotes one of Bloom’s former co-workers, who said, “For a guy as smart and accomplished as [Bloom] is, I think he gives everyone a feeling that he’s approachable and wants to engage.”

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox could name Bloom as the club’s new “chief baseball officer.”

Once the Sox do make things official with an announcement or press release, make sure to stay tuned right here for more on that.