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2024 ‘Full Throttle’ Boston Red Sox and their stingy owners

The 2018 Boston Red Sox team stands as one of the most formidable teams in baseball history. They finished the regular season with a Major League Baseball top 108-54 record and won the World Series. This was Boston’s 4th World Series championship win in 14 years.

 In 2018, the Red Sox led the MLB in payroll totals, spending $235 million, above the league average of $141 million. Fast forward to the 2023 season, the team dropped to the 13th highest payroll, spending just $175 million compared to the league average of merely $150 million.

The MLB is a league where a team’s success correlates with the team’s payroll. For example, the 2023 Oakland Athletics finished with the league’s worst record at 50-112, and also had the league’s lowest payroll. The Boston Red Sox are typically a big market, high spending team that uses their finances to boost them to success. However, the past two seasons have been different, as the Red Sox finished last in the American League East division in both the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

At the start of this year’s offseason, the Red Sox fired Chaim Bloom, their chief baseball officer of four years. To some fans, Bloom was seen as the issue with the team. Bloom built a solid young core that could one day help the team, but the owners wanted a new person to make winning a priority. They hired Craig Breslow, who won a World Series with the Red Sox back in 2013, to take over the position. 

At a November press conference, the Red Sox ownership promised the team would be going “full throttle” in the offseason to make up for the last two seasons of disappointment. However, the team has yet to make significant financial investments as spring training practice starts in a week. They have allowed players to leave the team in free agency who have verbally expressed they wanted to stay, such as Justin Turner. Turner could have been a great asset to resign for the 2024 transition season after producing solid numbers for the team last season.

So why aren’t the Red Sox spending money in the offseason to improve their team? Well, belief in future prospects seems to be the supposed strategy that ownership believes in. The Red Sox boast one of the best farm systems in the league, highlighted by standout talents such as 21-year-old shortstop Marcelo Mayer. 

In 2021, the Red Sox drafted Mayer 4th overall, and he ended the season playing for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs last season. Promising players like Kyle Teel and Roman Anthony are also poised to have breakthrough minor league years in 2024. However, these players likely won’t be developed until at least the 2025 season and are not expected to affect the 2024 Red Sox roster. This signifies that the 2024 season will be a transition season, and another rebuilding year for the team.

Another factor contributing to the lack of significant financial investments spent on the team is attributed to the owners themselves. The Red Sox are owned by Fenway Sports Group, made up of John Henry and his partner Tom Werner. Fenway Sports group also currently owns the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, the Premier League’s Liverpool, as well as stake in NASCAR. And in Jan. 2024, Fenway Sports Group landed a $3 billion deal with the PGA golf tour. 

The most expensive MLB ticket on average in 2023 was the Boston Red Sox. Yet instead of flipping all the ticket revenue profit back into the product on the field and Fenway Park, Henry and Warner seem to be busy spending the money on new projects like golf tours. There could be heightened pressure on Henry and Werner to sell the team if they don’t achieve much success this year.

After two consecutive last-place finishes in the AL East, it appears that the Red Sox could be on their way to a third. Boston fans will not be happy if the season starts heading south, and with a 162-game season, there could be a lot to complain about.

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