The Red Sox have received a fair amount of criticism for trading Mookie Betts. Owner John Henry tried to clear the air a bit, clarify some misconceptions that are out there, and justify trading Mookie Betts. If his explanation felt lacking, it’s probably because the real explanation isn’t pretty. The Red Sox traded Betts to save money at the expense of a potentially winning team in 2020. That they received some talent in return can’t obscure the primary goal of the trade. Financial flexibility might remain a popular catchphrase, but there’s little reason to think the Boston Red Sox couldn’t just keep payrolls at similar levels over the foreseeable future and continue to add talent considering nearly $100 million in salaries comes off the books over the next three offseasons.
A few specific passages in Henry’s statement stuck out to me:
“It is not the system’s fault that the Red Sox ended up in this position. We were faced with a difficult choice.”
Henry called this an “extraordinary challenge,” a “difficult choice,” and characterized “tough decisions” for the organization. To frame trading Betts as a difficult choice, one must first frame the…