So, sick of thinking about this season, I've been spending some time thinking about what flexibility the Sox are going to have going into next season, because I've seen some statements I believe are just incorrect. So, let me go over some numbers.
A quick explanation of the numbers I came up with:
For players who signed deals last year, I included the signing bonus in their 2011 salaries as they were money paid to the player in 2011 (the players with these were Buchholz, Crawford, and Gonzalez).
Players who have not yet reached arbitration make between $414,000 and $550,000 or so, depending mostly on service time. These guys will not be exactly the same guys last year, but will make about the same amount of money, so I boosted a few of them slightly, but they don't really have a significant impact on payroll. For example, no one is going to release Reddick just because he'll make $450,000 or so next year rather than $417,500. I don't know their formula, so I guessed.
Bedard I did not include an amount for. This is because I don't know how much he made this year, or how much of that the Red Sox paid. His base salary was $1 million, and he didn't pitch a whole ton, so I doubt there were a whole ton of incentives, but in any case, that's a little extra money that they paid in 2011.
Anyways, if we take just the players who cannot become free agents next year, the total payroll I get for 2012 is $48,850,000 less than 2011. We'll call it $48.5 million because of the guesswork I had to do. This is not yet including arbitration figures.
The guys we have eligible for arbitration are: Ellsbury, Miller, Albers, Saltalamacchia, Aceves, Aviles, Bard, McDonald, Lowrie, Hill, and Morales.
I think it's fair to say that McDonald (as essentially a replacement-level player) and Miller (as a player working from a $1.3 million salary) will both be non-tendered- though they may try to re-sign both on minor league deals. Same with Hill, as he's still recovering from surgery. The others probably get kept- with a possibility that one of Aviles or Lowrie is non-tendered, but not a significant one as they'll both be pretty cheap.
Of those guys- MLBTR has Ellsbury currently estimated at about $6.8 million- let's call it $7, maybe up to $9 million if he does get the MVP (unlikely). Even $6.8 million would give him the largest second-year raise for a position player.
I'd guess if all are kept that Salty, Albers, Aceves, Aviles, Lowrie, and Morales can all be had for about another $6 million or so- none are exceptional players and all have pretty glaring weaknesses, Salty and Aceves take the most in this group.
Bard, with his weak ending, and lack of saves, it's hard for me to imagine him getting more than around $1-1.5 million in arb 1.
So, to me, it looks like in arbitration, we're looking at somewhere between $14-16.5 million- leaving us with $30-32.5 million with which to fill holes.
Major lineup holes at this point are Backup catcher, DH, Shortstop, Right field
Major pitching holes are the rotation and closer.
Lets assume that, given Scutaro's strong finish, they pick up his $6 million option (not doing so would cost an extra $1.5 million buyout anyways). Let's assume that they re-sign Ortiz for a couple years at the same rate as he's making now (as I don't believe he's going to get a raise, a slight drop if anything). Lavarnway is likely to take the backup catcher role for free.
This leaves about $11.5-14 million dollars of wiggle room, based on this past year's budget. After a second consecutive season of failing to make the playoffs, I think Henry will probably be essentially forced to up payroll this year.
Obviously, in a perfect world, to get a new right fielder and at least one extra starter (as well as some level of depth), you would want more than that available. At the same time, they are not right against a wall. That amount of money gives them some lexibility to either try to acquire a player or two through trade, or to sign some lower-level free agents- we probably don't have a CJ Wilson in our future, but given our recent success with major free agent signings, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
There's always a possibility that I've missed something or miscalculated something, but I'm fairly confident in these numbers. If anyone has any questions about how I reached the numbers I did (all are from one of the best websites on the internet, Cot's), feel free to ask. If anything just seems wrong, feel free to mention it.
Let the rosterbation begin!