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Red Sox Win Total Drops as Low as 83.5; Are Sportsbooks Underestimating Boston?

Mookie Betts at the plate.
The Boston Red Sox regular season win total has dropped to 83.5 after trading away Mookie Betts. Photo by Keith Allison (Wikimedia).
  • The Boston Red Sox regular season win total has dropped at 83.5 after opening at 88.5
  • The Red Sox traded away Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers this week
  • Boston still hasn’t hired a new manager after parting ways with Alex Cora – read our preview and prediction for their win total this season

The Boston Red Sox made waves this week when they traded away star outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price in what was essentially a salary dump. Originally facing a win total of 88.5, the Red Sox 2020 MLB win totals are now down to 85.5 or as low as 83.5 after the move. Is this too much of an overreaction?

American League Regular Season Win Totals

Team Odds at BookMaker
Baltimore Orioles 56.5 (-120o/+100u)
Boston Red Sox 83.5 (-130o/+108u)
Chicago White Sox 84.5 (-115o/-105u)
Cleveland Indians 85.5 (-130o/+108u)
Detroit Tigers 56.5 (-125o/+104u)
Houston Astros 94.5 (-115o/-105u)
Kansas City Royals 64.5 (-115o/-105u)
Los Angeles Angels 85.5 (-125o/+104u)
Minnesota Twins 92.5 (-115o/-105u)
New York Yankees 102.5 (-120o/+100u)
Oakland Athletics 89.5 (-115o/-105u)
Seattle Mariners 67.5  (+101o/-122u)
Tampa Bay Rays 89.5 (-135o/+112u)
Texas Rangers 79.5 (-120o/+100u)
Toronto Blue Jays 74.5 (-121o/+100u)

Odds taken Feb. 8

Red Sox Dump Betts, Price

We’re living in weird times when the Red Sox, one of the richest franchises in all of baseball, is cutting salary. That’s essentially what we’re looking at here as they would have had to sign Betts to a massive extension and they already had Price’s big contract on the books. Even so, the Red Sox normally don’t blink at these types of deals. Why now?

Betts was the 2018 American League MVP and the challenge is that he wanted to become a free agent at the end of next season. If he was going to test the market as he planned, that opened the door for him to leave without compensation. However, it’s unlikely the Red Sox would have been outbid.

At the same time, this trade closes the door on the possibility of Betts walking out the door for nothing while also dumping the remaining $96 million of David Price’s salary. While they now have a lot more money to work with, are they in a better position to succeed?

Pitching Will be a Huge Concern

The Red Sox are just two years removed from a 108-win campaign along with a World Series ring. They won 84 games in a “down year” in 2019 but now the expectation has dropped a lot for 2020. Of course, there are a number of reasons for that.

Losing Betts will hurt as we’re talking about a guy who led the team with a 6.8 WAR last season. He batted .295 with 29 home runs, 80 RBI’s, scored 135 runs and stole 16 bases. While that’s obvious, what’s less obvious is how much the loss of Price will hurt the team.

There’s no question that Price didn’t have a great year as he was 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. He’s also 34 years old and hasn’t been elite – other than in a spurt or two – for some time. However, he was the team’s ace in the 2018 playoffs and it’s not as if this team is rich in pitching otherwise.

The Red Sox finished 19th in team ERA at 4.70 and 20th in WHIP at 1.38. Chris Sale is a huge question mark entering the season as he’s coming off a 6-11 campaign where he had a 4.40 ERA. He allowed five or more runs in seven of his 25 starts. He has to return to being an ace again if this team is to have any shot.

Beyond that, Eduardo Rodriguez is a solid No. 2, but who knows beyond that. Nathan Eovaldi was not a good starter last season (5.99 ERA), Martin Perez has not proven to be a solid starter either (5.49 ERA over last two seasons) and nobody knows who’ll be the fifth man in the rotation.

Sure, maybe Price would have declined anyway but the challenge for the Red Sox is they have no clear answer to replace him. And if Sale isn’t his old self, this could be one of the worst rotations in the entire American League. In a division with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, that’s a big problem.

Bet Against the Red Sox

It just hasn’t been a great offseason for Boston and it’s not just the Betts trade. They were forced to fire manager Alex Cora and they don’t have a replacement in place. They weren’t big players in free agency either. The general atmosphere around this team is a bit sour and not exactly optimistic.

If Sale comes back and pitches like an ace, this is a .500 team to me. If not, there is far more downside to this team. They have a solid batting lineup but the bullpen is nothing special and now the starting rotation has questions. In a tough division, they’ll be hard-pressed to get to 84 wins.

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