Dan Shaughnessy, who long ago did his heel turn, had already blasted the clubâ€™s ownership for the penny pinching ways, when Red Sox GM compounded the complaints with a text book salary dump sending designated starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies for righty Clayton Mortensen.
The move perplexes Rob Neyer. And the overall tenor of the offseason has largely upset legions of Red Sox Nation. The acquisition of Andrew Bailey being the primary positive among a sea of head scratchers.
But the tactics are not designed to construct a playoff roster. They are designed to avoid the newly sterner luxury tax penalties as spelled out in MLBâ€™s new collective bargaining agreement. The Biz of Baseballâ€™s Maury Brown touched on this topic when the new CBA was announced in November:
The Competitive Balance Tax (CBT), or as itâ€™s commonly known as the Luxury Tax that has been part of MLB, stopped at the end of the season. Itâ€™s back in the new agreement, with some undefined tweaks. In a sign that the players are happy with where the model currently is, the soft cap for the league will see no changes in the threshold from the 2011 season -- $178 million based on end-of-year salaries
The quiet offseasons that both the Red Sox and Yankees have overseen suggest both clubs find the new provisions onerous enough to pull back from their free-spending ways. The Yankees big splash came in two pieces just over a week ago. First they dealt Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and minor leaguer Jose Campos. Then they announced an agreement with Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year contract for the budget conscious price tag of $10 million.
Still, the Red Sox and Yankees both face the prospect of exceeding the tax threshold in 2012. The Yankees certainly will. Boston is working like crazy to prevent that.
Speculation centers around Roy Oswalt. The Red Sox would not have been able to sign the veteran right handed starter, even at his reduced salary demand of one-year and $8 million unless they moved some salary. Thus exits Scutaro.
Among the agida inducing activities Cherrington continues to deal with is the clubâ€™s full slate of players facing salary arbitration. And with David Ortiz seeking $16.5 million the Red Sox were looking at an even greater cash crunch.
They settled one of their cases last night, with an announcement sent out minutes after the trade was officially announced. Right-handed reliever Daniel Bard agreed with the team on a one-year deal for the $1.6125 million. The two met int he middle between Bardâ€™s asking price of $1.825 million and the clubâ€™s offer of $1.4 million. The contract represents a raise of 219.3% over his 2011 salary. He qualified as a Super Two player.
Bard is a candidate to start for the Red Sox in 2012 after serving as the clubâ€™s primary set up for Jonathan Papelbon since joining the team in mid-May of 2009. He and Alfredo Aceves, who is also poised to go to an arbitration hearing, are both looking to shift from the pen to a starting role. Picking up Oswalt would ensure one, if not both, would be back in the bullpen next year.
Joe Tetreault is a contributor to the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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