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.

Red Sox Close to Trading Mookie Betts, per Report

The Red Sox are close to trading star outfielder Mookie Betts, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who said on Monday’s installment of MLB Network’s Hot Stove that, “This is going to happen, Mookie Betts is getting traded. The only question is when and where.”

The Dodgers and Padres appear to be the favorites to land the 27-year-old Betts, who will make $27 million this upcoming season before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

Per Rosenthal, Los Angeles has “the ability to do this a little bit cleaner” since San Diego would be looking to include outfielder Wil Myers, who is owed $61 million over the next three years, in any trade.

Any deal involving the Dodgers would most likely be headlined by 23-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo and 21-year-old infield prospect Jeter Downs coming back to Boston.

Of course, any return the Red Sox get could depend on whether or not David Price is packaged with Betts in any potential trade.

Price, 34, is set to make $96 million over the final three years of the seven-year, $217 million deal he signed with the Sox back in December 2015. If he were dealt, Boston would probably be responsible for a majority of that $96 million.

Bundling Betts and Price in the same deal could help the Red Sox reach their goal of getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for the 2020 season, but it could also hinder the compensation for giving up an elite talent like Betts.

On Sunday, MLB Network’s Peter Gammons tweeted that he spoke to three different National League executives who said that Betts going to the Dodgers is “inevitable” at this point, with Verdugo, Downs, and a pitching prospect going to the Red Sox.

Red Sox Have Reportedly Had Discussions With Padres About Potential Mookie Betts Trade

The San Diego Padres have reportedly reached out to the Red Sox about trading for star outfielder Mookie Betts, according to The Athletic’s Dennis Lin.

Per Lin, “Recent talks between the teams have focused on sending a significant amount of prospect talent and outfielder Wil Myers to Boston, according to sources.” However, “Multiple people familiar with the discussions characterized an agreement as unlikely, and the industry consensus is that Betts will be in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day.”

Before Thursday, it seemed as though things had gone quiet on the Betts trade front. Now, we have this, which is not really revealing anything we did not know before.

It was known that the Padres were one of the handful of teams that inquired about Betts’ services. It was also known that the Padres were looking to move the contract of former All-Star outfielder Wil Myers, whose recent on-field performance has made the remaining three years and $61 million he is owed look like a potential overpay.

Earlier in the offseason, Boston and San Diego talked about another trade that would require the 29-year-old Myers to swap coasts, but that involved the Sox moving the remaining three years and up to $96 million owed to left-hander David Price.

In regard to that scenario, the Padres have “little interest,” per Lin.

Because the Red Sox have made little progress towards their goal of getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for the upcoming season, swapping Betts and Myers would save the club at least $13 million towards the luxury tax this year. That is the case because the average annual value of the six-year, $83 million extension Myers signed in 2017 comes in at approximately $13.8 million, while Betts’ comes in at $27 million.

Of course, the Red Sox would require more than a return of Myers to part ways with their six-time All-Star, and it just so happens that the Padres have one of the best farm systems in baseball.

As nice as that sounds though, top prospects like MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño and CJ Abrams would most likely be off the table in any trade talks due to the fact that Betts will be a free agent for the first time next winter.

There is a chance he could sign a lucrative extension with any team he is dealt to, but the consensus seems to be that the 27-year-old is locked in on hitting the open market, which makes trading for just one year of team control all the more riskier.

The Padres, led by aggressive general manager AJ Preller, have not qualified for postseason baseball since 2007. They may just be desperate enough to take that risk and acquire the best right fielder in baseball, even if for just one season.

Steve Cishek Signs One-Year Deal With White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The contract includes a $6 million option for a second year as well.

Cishek, 33, is coming off a two-year, $13 million deal with the Cubs, where most recently he posted a 2.95 ERA and 4.95 xFIP over 70 relief appearances and 64 innings of work in 2019 for the North Siders.

The Falmouth, Ma. native was viewed as a potential fit for the Red Sox in 2020, as he could help supplement an already solid bullpen and he had a previous connection to Boston’s chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when the two were in Tampa Bay.

Per MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Cishek even had interest in signing with his hometown team as recently as last week, but because he earned $7.1 million with the Cubs in 209, he was believed to be out of the Red Sox’ pay range.

As it turns out, Cishek wound up taking just south of $7.1 million to remain in the same city he had spent the previous two years in.

I don’t have any inside information, but I would have to imagine this is how things went down before Cishek agreed to that deal with Chicago on Tuesday:

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn made his offer of one-year, $6 million to Cishek that included that aforementioned option for 2021. Cishek’s camp at Jet Sports Management makes one last call to Bloom and Co. to ask if they can go higher than that. Bloom responds by saying they can’t, and that’s that.

The fact that the Red Sox were unable to land a quality late-inning reliever, albeit one who does have injury concerns, for a mere $6 million just goes to show how handcuffed they are by the goal of getting below the $208 million luxury tax threshold ahead of the 2020 season.

Red Sox Having Discussions With Blue Jays About Trading David Price, per Report

The Red Sox have reportedly had talks with the Toronto Blue Jays among other clubs about trading left-hander David Price, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

According to Rosenthal, “A deal only will come to fruition if the clubs agree on how much the Red Sox will pay of the $96 million remaining in the final three years of Price’s contract,” and, “Such an agreement is not close at this time.”

The 34-year-old Price spent the final three months of the 2015 season with Toronto as part of their run to the ALCS before signing a then-record-setting seven-year, $217 million deal with Boston that December.

Granted, that trade between the Jays and Detroit Tigers was done with Alex Anthopoulos, the current general manager of the Braves, at the helm for Toronto.

In his brief time north of the border, Price became a fan favorite. Combine that with the fact that the Blue Jays are currently in need of top-of-the-rotation starting pitching, and a reunion between both parties would make sense depending on what the Red Sox got out of it.

As Rosenthal notes, “the Sox are looking at a sliding scale – the more money they include, the better the package they will receive,” in deals for Price or even right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who is owed $51 million over the next three years.

All this comes as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. continue to work towards the goal set by Sox ownership of getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold with the idea of trading Mookie Betts serving as a last resort. They seemed to make that much clear at the Winter Meetings earlier this month.

With durability issues surrounding Price headed into his age-34 season, the Red Sox may have to pay up to $36 million of the remaining $96 million remaining on the Tennessee native’s deal, which would essentially turn it into a three-year, $60 million contract.

Two weeks ago, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the Angels, Cardinals, Padres, Reds, and White Sox were among the clubs that have been in contact with Boston regarding Price.

At this point in time, the Red Sox trading away Price seems more likely to happen than not. The return Boston gets in any potential deal will be interesting to see.

Multiple Teams Have Reportedly ‘Targeted’ Red Sox’ David Price in Trade Talks

Multiple teams have targeted Red Sox left-hander David Price in trade talks, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

This bit of news comes as Sox chief baseball officer continues to pursue ways of shredding payroll for the 2020 season, as Passan notes.

Speaking of shredding payroll, we all know by now that it is a goal, not a mandate, for Boston to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for next year. That much was made evident by principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner back in September, and again by Bloom at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego on Monday.

Price, 34, is owed approximately $96 million over the final three years of the initial seven-year, $217 million deal he signed with Boston four years ago.

The veteran southpaw may not be the highest-paid pitcher in baseball anymore with Stephen Strasburg inking a seven-year, $245 million pact to return to the Washington Nationals earlier this week, but he is still the highest-paid player on his team in terms of average annual value (AAV).

Combine that fact with the notion that Boston would like to get under that $208 million threshold to reset luxury tax penalties, and Price becomes a clear trade candidate.

How Bloom and Co. get something like that done becomes tricky, because either way, they’re going to wind up eating a fair amount of Price’s salary, or they’re going to wind up attaching a younger, cheaper player (Andrew Benintendi has been mentioned) to complete a trade.

And depending on the return in a potential Price trade, another hole in the Sox’ rotation could open up as well.

With names such as Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the open market, it seems increasingly likely that the teams that strike out on those free agents could be open to dealing for a top of the rotation hurler like Price.

There are plenty of red flags, though, as Price is coming off an injury-shortened 2019 campaign in which he posted a 4.28 ERA over just 22 starts and 107 1/3 innings of work.

J.D. Martinez Decides Not to Opt out of Contract With Red Sox

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez has decided NOT to opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million of his contract, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

The 32-year-old had until midnight eastern time Monday to make his decision, and is now locked in for at least one more year, as he also has two more opt outs remaining in his contract following the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

In his second season with Boston, Martinez slashed .304/.383/.557 to go along with 36 home runs and 105 RBI across 146 games played in 2019.

Back in September, Sox ownership came out and said that it is a goal, not a mandate, to cut down on payroll ahead of the 2020 campaign. Following Monday’s events, Martinez is expected to earn $23.75 million next year. Combine that with Mookie Betts’ projected salary of $27.7 million, and that seemingly puts Boston’s new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in a difficult spot.

Of course, there are plenty of options available here. For starters, Martinez’s deal could be restructured to presumably do away with the opt-outs and lock in one of the best hitters in the game for the next three years. Another avenue worth exploring could be looking into trading both Betts and Martinez.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Martinez can block trades to three teams, and no adjustments to his current deal have been made to this point.

During his introductory presser last week, Bloom emphasized being both “sustainable and competitive over the long term.” If the Sox really want to avoid paying those luxury tax penalties once more next year, then they’re going to have to get really creative to do so.

With that said, it would not be much of a surprise if Bloom and Co. listen to trade offers on any player besides Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.

There was already that report out of Arlington last week that the Texas Rangers had begun having preliminary, internal conversations about acquiring a Sox starter like Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, or even Chris Sale, so that is definitely an avenue to explore as well.