The question has come up a few times recently: with Carl Crawford on board, how much money can the Red Sox possibly have left to spend this offseason? They still need, after all, a big improvement in the bullpen, as well as a solid right handed bat to avoid some nasty splits. Do they have the money to do so?
With the team showing the willingness to go up to the luxury tax threshold last year, the answer should be: yes.
The numbers follow.
A few things to keep in mind for the luxury tax:
- The number that matters is the average annual value of a player's contract. That means that guys like Youkilis, Pedroia, and Lester--signed to gradually increasing deals--don't have their current salary count, but the average salary they'll receive over the length of the deal.
- Everyone on the 40-man roster counts. For the most part, this doesn't add up to even an extra million dollars when considering minor leaguers, but...
- Guys like Jose Iglesias and Junichi Tazawa with big league contracts cost the full amount.
- Each team in the majors has to pay a share of player benefits. Last year, that figure was around $10 million last year.
(Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts. I can't promise these numbers are perfect.)
Add about $.75 million for the 40-man, and $10 million for benefits, and the Sox come in right around $165 million. That leaves about $13 million left to fit in any new contracts. Based on what we've seen so far this offseason, that's maybe two solid relievers and a bench player.
Conveniently, that's the number of spaces left on the 25-man based on those payroll numbers, assuming that Tazawa and Iglesias stay in the minors (they will).
A few things stick out to me, though.
- The Red Sox' funny accounting with Adrian Beltre last year is actually coming back to haunt them a bit. Since Beltre didn't pick up his option year, the Sox are on the line for a few million to make up the difference between last year's assumed AAV and the actual figure.
- This just goes to show you how important delaying the Gonzalez extension is. The Sox have no room to maneuver if he's taking up $22 million.
- Filling just one of their spots from the minors would be a big deal. Using Darnell McDonald as the right handed bat or Felix Doubront as a lefty specialist would make deals with both Russell Martin and a high-level reliever a lot more realistic.
- Pedroia and Lester are still ridiculous values. Hopefully Buchholz' peripherals bump up to meet his results ala Jon Lester, and we add his name to that list for the next 5-6 years in 2011.
It's also worth considering that, for all the talk of being the new Yankees, the Bronx Bombers exceed the Red Sox' presumed 40-man salary at the end of the offseason with just 11 players.
I'm just saying. . .