Whatever the Red Sox may prefer, the odds are that the organization will again go over the luxury tax line in 2018, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe explains. Indeed, with a hefty arbitration class set to land on top of an already robust set of guaranteed contracts, the team will enter the offseason without much hope of improving unless it’s willing to exceed the $197MM luxury tax line. Of course, the club reset its luxury tax status by staying under the 2017 mark, which reduces the penalty for going back over (but would also begin a new climb upward in the escalating tax scheme).
Here’s more from the AL East:
- As the Red Sox continue looking into candidates for the team’s open managerial position, the team is allowing its coaches to look into their own alternatives. Well-regarded hitting coach Chili Davis is set to visit with the Padres, per Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter links). San Diego parted ways with hitting coach Alan Zinter, leaving the club looking at alternatives. Of course, it’s still also possible that a new Boston manager would prefer to keep Davis or certain other members of the staff, but the staff is now free to make its own decisions at this stage.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post posits a scenario in which the Yankees can obtain quite a strong rotation next year without any massive new investments. Of course, doing so would depend not only upon achieving some notable strokes of good market luck but also upon the organization getting the best versions of some pitchers that have had their ups and downs. Most interestingly, Sherman says the “general sense” is that Masahiro Tanaka will not opt out of the three years and $67MM left on his deal. While that’s hardly cheap and still carries obvious risk, it seems like an appealing price tag for a pitcher of his pedigree, given his late-season rebound. Sherman’s most optimistic version of a 2018 staff also includes Shohei Otani, whose destination is anyone’s guess at this stage. All things considered, though, the Yanks’ roation situation does seem much better than might have been anticipated entering the year, due largely to the surge of Luis Severino and emergence of Jordan Montgomery.
- Meanwhile, the Yankees are trying prospect Billy McKinney out at first base in the Arizona Fall League, Bill Mitchell writes for Baseball America, though he’ll also continue primarily to be an outfielder. As Mitchell notes, McKinney showed better than ever after finally reaching the Triple-A level midway through the 2017 season. The 23-year-old slashed .306/.336/.541 with ten home runs in his 224 plate appearances there, though he also walked just four percent of the time (well below his usual rate) and carried a .353 batting average on balls in play that likely reflects both good contact and some fortune. It’ll be interesting to see when and how McKinney is utilized at the MLB level, but he could factor into the team’s depth considerations for the season to come or potentially be dangled as a trade candidate.
- Though the Orioles will obviously need to bring in some new players if they hope for a return to contention, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports writes that the team also must receive improvements from within if it hopes to compete. Consistent production from key players was elusive in 2017, which failed to create a base of output sufficient to maintain a winning record. Even with expectations of some bounceback performances, though, the roster will surely be in need of supplementation; MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently broke down the possibilities.