Red Sox Sam Kennedy Says Keeping Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez ‘Difficult’, But There is a Way

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Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez
USA Today Sports

After a disappointing 2019 campaign following a 2018 World Series championship, the Boston Red Sox are looking to trim payroll and revamp for the 2020 season.

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy spoke Monday about the team’s future and stated that there is a way for the team to keep superstar outfielders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez and stay below Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax, but it won’t be an easy task to perform.

“There is a way, but obviously it will be difficult given the nature of the agreements and the contracts we have in place,” Kennedy said, according to ESPN.

“We have a very targeted and strategic plan that we’re building now. Some of the dates related to contract decisions come right after the World Series. So we’ve had some time in September to focus on the offseason given where we were in the standings,” he said. “It is going to be a challenging offseason, but we’re ready to attack it head-on and do everything we can to put a competitive team out there not just for next year but 2021, 2022.”

The comments come off the heels of a Friday media session with team owners John Henry and Tom Werner where the two stated that they were prepared to cut payroll to get under the luxury-tax threshold next season.

The Red Sox have had baseball’s highest payroll for two consecutive seasons, exceeding the competitive balance threshold of $208 million in each of those seasons.

Doing so for a third straight season would see an astronomical rise of the taxes.

“We need to be under the CBT,” Henry said on Friday.

“We will continue to demonstrate a willingness to go over the CBT,” Kennedy said. “It is going to be a challenging offseason, but we are going to attack it.”

“We absolutely love Mookie Betts as a player, as a person,” Kennedy said. “We’ve gotten to know his family. You hope that he’s a guy that is here for the long term.”

Kennedy also added that he took no offense at the idea of Betts testing the free agent market this upcoming winter.

“I think it speaks to Mookie’s confidence and how special of a player he is,” Kennedy said of Betts’ potential testing of the market.

“He really does love it here. He told me he loves it here. … You can see with the joy and energy and enthusiasm in which he approaches playing baseball at Fenway Park — the fans love him.”

Kennedy also lauded the performance of Martinez, while also pointing out his importance to the team’s success.

“You want J.D. Martinez in the middle of your lineup,” Kennedy said. “He’s a world champion and was a key part of last year’s success, so we will see where it goes in the future.”

The Red Sox have a lot of work to do this offseason, and it may include losing Martinez, or Betts, or potentially both as they look to drop payroll.

 

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