The Red Sox offseason, which has been the butt to every joke around baseball since the World Series ended, took another embarrassing turn Thursday when the team and pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez were forced to have an arbitration hearing over a $675K salary dispute. Adding to the “mutual” separation of team and manager along with the salary dump of its best player and a pitcher it gave the fattest contract in baseball history to just four years ago, the Red Sox and Rodriguez going to court over the team’s unwillingness to fork out $675k more to a guy that won 19 games is the latest string of front office blunders.
The owners won, and Rodriguez will make $8.3M instead of his desired $8.975M. That is… not a huge difference. To put it into a bit of context, 52 pitchers are set to make more than $9M in 2020. Last season, E-Rod was third in the league in wins. The guy who finished third in wins last year wants to be the 53rd highest paid pitcher in baseball and the Red Sox said no. They took him to court over it. This would be much harder to believe if this wasn’t the team that just traded the best homegrown prospect they’ve had in 50 years in order to save ownership some money. I understand that Rodriguez was inconsistent in the first three years of his career, but third in the league in wins a season after going 13-5 speaks for itself. The Red Sox front office just wasn’t listening.
Let’s not forget, even though it seems like people within the organization do, that E-Rod is one of the most important players on the team heading into 2020 after dumping David Price and losing Rich Porcello to the Mets. You could even argue he’s the most important, at least in the rotation. Chris Sale is obviously the number one but with the history of his left arm turning into a noodle by late August or early September, the prospects of him starting 30 games and throwing over 200 innings seem a bit optimistic especially coming off an elbow injury. After Rodriguez, it’s Eovaldi who the Red Sox for some reason decided to give a monster contract to despite the only consistent part of his game being that he gets injured. Then its Martin Perez with his near five career ERA as the fourth starter and the fifth guy could be any one of the many candidates that loses the Democratic Primary. Beto O’Rourke comes to mind immediately for me but take your pick. Anyways, long story short, if the Sox want any hope of being a decent team in 2020, unless they trade for a starter or two, Rodriguez needs to have a big year. This is the first year where expectations are pretty high for him so what’s a good way to ensure he is in a good place heading into the most important season of his career? Take him to arbitration!
What kind of motivation does Rodriguez have to be the guy? It would be one thing if he wanted to be paid like a top ten or five pitcher in the game strictly based on last year’s performance. He doesn’t. He wants to be the 53rd highest paid player at his position. The Red Sox refused to budge over 675K. After the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, they’re more than $35M under the dreaded luxury tax. I’m no math guy, but 675K seems like a much smaller number than $35M. So instead of just agreeing to his terms to keep him happy, The Red Sox said no, potentially pissing off a guy they can’t afford to lose over what amounts to chump change for a team with a payroll of $171M. I understand they felt the need to punt the season before it began being over the luxury tax, but these kinds of actions put success in seasons beyond this one in serious jeopardy.
Photo credit: ESPN.Com
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