The Red Sox have been quiet this offseason. Almost too quiet. The Red Sox have normally been focal points for the MLB trade landscape in the winter months. The logs the Red Sox have heaped on the MLB Hot Stove in the past have often kept us warm long into May. Whether it’s shipping Mookie Betts to Los Angeles, signing J.D. Martinez, or even asking Chris Sale to swap Sox.
This recent silence is… startling. Especially if you’re a die-hard Sox fan.
The 2020 Red Sox season, albeit shortened to 60 games, was awful from every angle you look at it. The Sox just barely cleared the .400 mark, narrowly avoiding falling into .300 territory for the first time since 1965. That’s right, this season was so bad for the Sox, that you have to go all the way back to 1965 to find one that is comparatively worse. But the worrisome bit is that things aren’t going to get much better and there’s a reason for that.
Sam Kennedy, who took over Baseball Operations from Larry Lucchino in 2015, has recently come out and said that the Red Sox plan is to go small, a departure from the norm.
“I think it would be inaccurate to say we are going for it with an all-in approach that perhaps we did prior to the 2018 title,” Kennedy told the Boston Globe.
“We cherish that title, and all of them, but the way we built that team came at a price, which included importantly a depleted farm system and some depleted draft picks along the way. So we are building back up, and as we do this hopefully the right way, we’ll have a chance to be competitive in the American League East in 2021, but also for the longer term.”
The Red Sox are about to take a hard turn towards a rebuild, something they haven’t done in… maybe ever?
The Red Sox have never been a franchise to shy away from spending money in order to win. However, the Fenway Sports Group, who owns the Boston Red Sox, might want to spend their money somewhere else: Liverpool.
Fenway Sports Group also owns the reigning Premier League Champions Liverpool FC. The ownership group purchased Liverpool in 2010 for £300 million, or around $410 million USD. The first few years under FSG ownership, Liverpool didn’t progress too much, staying in the middle of the pack every year. It wasn’t until the last few years that things began to change. The difference being Mo Salah leading the front line and Jürgen Klopp at the helm.
How much has Liverpool grown in the last decade? After purchasing the team for $410 million, LFC was evaluated at $1.34 Billion in 2019, and that’s prior to their 2020 Premier League win. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention they had just been crowned champions of the UEFA Champions League.
Liverpool is a worldwide brand at this point, with a wide-reaching fanbase global stars who bear their crest weekly. The Red Sox cannot compete with that kind of opportunity, which may explain ownership’s reluctance to spend when rebuilding is cheaper.
With Liverpool at the forefront of the Premier League landscape, it’s a no-brainer business move to invest in the future of the football club. And there’s a blueprint for doing so.
Shahid Khan, whom American sports fans may know as the owner of the Jacksconville Jaguars, also owns Fulham FC, another Premier League club. However, unlike Liverpool, Fulham has spent much of the last few seasons relegated to a lower league, just recently returning to the top level this season.
And just ahead of their first season back in the Premier League, Khan announced a slew of upgrades to Fulham’s stadium, changes which required the purchase of a chunk of the Thames. Why would Khan invest over $140 million in a stadium for a team that is on the brink of relegation yet again? Because the Premier League has power in the world, and a team can easily gain brand recognition and generate value. It’s an investment, that is sure to payoff.
So while Red Sox fans are shaking their fists towards Fenway, perhaps the Red Sox plan has not a thing to do with baseball. And everything to do with making as much money as possible.
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