Tonight marks the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
This also means that in a sense, the MLB offseason is officially underway after a few weeks of silence and speculation.
The Red Sox have a list of chores the size of Jersey Street to take care of ahead of the 2020 season. Of course, there’s Mookie Betts and his current situation. Do they trade him? Do they not? It’s time we just wait that one out and stop speculating because if we’ve learned one thing since the conclusion of the World Series, it’s that nobody has a single clue about what will happen with the MVP in Fenway’s right field.
On the list of arbitration-eligible players that the Red Sox needed to make a decision on before tonight’s 8pm deadline was catcher Sandy Leon and center-fielder, Jackie Bradley Jr.
If players who fall under this current situation are not tendered contracts by 8pm tonight, they then hit the free-agent market.
One of the first dominoes to fall today was the trade that sent backup catcher Sandy Leon to the Cleveland Indians. In return, Boston received 21-year-old minor league RHP, Adenys Bautista.
As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes, Bautista was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Indians and in seven games in rookie ball, he posted an ERA of 7.79. Some would say that this is not an ideal ERA for a relief arm.
Adenys Bautista is a 21-year-old righty reliever who signed with Cleveland out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. Had 7.79 ERA in seven appearances at rookie ball last year.
Main point of this deal was to save Leon’s salary (about $2.8M). Sox will look for a new backup catcher.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 2, 2019
Leon was projected to make 2.8 million in 2020 according to Spotrac.
This was a deal made to start shedding some salary as Chaim Bloom and ownership’s aim is to get their payroll below that initial luxury tax threshold of $208 million.
It would be interesting to hear how lefty ace Chris Sale feels about this transaction as it’s been well documented that Leon was his favorite target behind the plate.
On top of fan-favorite Leon being shipped out of town, there was also some Jackie Bradley Jr. news that hit today as he was another name that the Red Sox needed to make a decision on ahead of tonight’s deadline.
There was some early speculation as to whether or not the team would tender a contract to Jackie Bradley Jr. But that rumor was silenced by the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier who reported that the team will be tendering a contract to the centerfielder.
The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is tonight. There’d been some question among MLB teams about whether the Red Sox might non-tender Jackie Bradley Jr. That’s not going to happen: Per source, the Red Sox are tendering a 2020 contract to Bradley.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) December 2, 2019
The obvious detriment to Bradley Jr.’s game throughout his career has been the consistency of his bat. There have been times where he’s been one of the most lethal hitters in baseball. But those hot-streaks tend to have short lifespans.
Bradley Jr. is projected to earn $11 million in 2020. Something that again, doesn’t necessarily match what Bloom’s 2020 fiscal aspiration is.
His situation is intriguing based on the player who often stands to his left in right field, Mookie Betts.
If the Red Sox do decide to make what would most likely be the trade of the offseason and send Betts elsewhere, trading Bradley Jr. would be that much more difficult. If they were both dealt, the defensive play the pair produced would be difficult to near impossible to replicate going forward, making him that much more valuable to the team while they attempt to straighten out this financial mess.
Offensively, Bradley Jr. hit for a .225 BA, with a .738 OPS and 21 home runs in 2019. Numbers that frankly make it difficult to justify giving him an $11 million salary in 2020.
With this offseason holding so many question marks, it’s tough to even guess whether or not the team will decide to trade Bradley Jr.
We’re now slowly entering what will be a wild offseason in Boston.