16 baseball teams will be celebrating a postseason berth later this month. However, one famous franchise decided to celebrate a different “accomplishment” for the 2020 season and in doing so revealed a major problem that baseball must deal with.
This Boston Red Sox tweet went out around noon ET.
The “Urgent Reset” refers to resetting the Competitive Balance Tax (also known as Luxury Tax), a month-long prioritization by the front office to reduce current and future payrolls while reducing the chances of having a competitive team to set up for 2020 and 2020 beyond.
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They know what they’re saying: Tweets celebrating the luxury tax reset live forever. (Let’s be clear: the purpose of this column isn’t to toast the Red Sox social media team. Was it a bad idea? Yes. But the social team didn’t pick wins over playoffs, the owner group. )
The fire sale in Boston took place before 4 p.m. Monday. ET close of trading – the Red Sox swapped five players from their big league in the days and hours before the cutoff – but in reality the franchise began when franchise icon Mookie Betts was traded for the Dodgers instead of re-signing him into one long-term, lucrative business. Betts signed a 12-year deal with Los Angeles in late July before ever playing a game with the Dodgers.
Ask the Red Sox fans how this news felt. At least do they have that?
According to the indispensable Cot’s baseball contracts, the Red Sox paid the CBT tax in 2015-16 (totaling $ 6.3 million) and did not hit the threshold in 2017. In 2018 – when they won the World Series, remember – and in 2019 they paid around $ 25.3 million in CBT taxes.
It sounds like a lot, until you remember that the Red Sox is valued at $ 3.3 billion, third in the majors behind just the Yankees and Dodgers. Oh, and John Henry, the Red Sox owner, also owns Liverpool Football Club (valued at $ 2.183 billion), the Boston Globe, and is a co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing. Henry’s personal net worth exceeds $ 2.8 billion.
Yes, a few million CBT taxes are a minor matter for Henry and the Red Sox. When the club celebrated several million in savings and realized that the club would not be competitive anytime soon, it had not been well received by Boston fans – or anyone else.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the kind of thing that kills baseball.
One team is literally celebrating the luxury tax reset on Twitter. Forget about winning, that’s what the teams are celebrating now. https://t.co/RpbgmoU8D5
– Chris Cwik (@Chris_Cwik) September 1, 2020
I’m a baseball team in a big market engaging on social media to save money while holding one of the worst records in the league. That shouldn’t work. https://t.co/VamK3syses
– Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) September 1, 2020
I honestly have trouble formulating the thoughts / words to express the visceral reaction I had to this Red Sox tweet, beyond the nasty embarrassment that is obviously the headliner.
– Cronk is good. (@cdgoldstein) September 1, 2020
The follow-up tweet after the original was deleted didn’t go much better.
I know this feeling too. I once traded the best player in my franchise for pennies for a dollar, lost a season, and then ridiculed my fan base for it. it sucked https://t.co/aDhiMjBPrD
– Sean Gentille (@seangentille) September 1, 2020
Again, this is not about a bad tweet. It’s about a bad approach to baseball that encourages teams not to try.
When a franchise is satisfied with the resources and history of Boston not to compete, baseball has a problem. A “system is broken” problem.