After all the big moves and the turnover this off-season, the projected Boston Red Sox r..."/> After all the big moves and the turnover this off-season, the projected Boston Red Sox r..."/>

Red Sox Projected Payroll at $163 Million

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After all the big moves and the turnover this off-season, the projected Boston Red Sox roster will not raise the team’s overall salary from 2010. Thanks to some great calculations by Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, the Sox salary at this moment tops off just under $163 million ($162.65 million), which is almost identical to last year’s mark ($162.74 million). One of the big factors in keeping the salary at bay for 2011 was the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez without a contract extension, saving the Sox between $10-$14 million this season. Gonzo is scheduled to make just $5.5 million in 2011, with an extension agreement likely coming some time early this season. (more after the jump)

The level payroll says a lot about the Sox strategy to get better, but not reach astronomical payroll heights. They had the 2nd highest payroll in 2010 and will likely retain that position in 2011, but they still sat about $44 million behind the New York Yankees $206+ million payroll. For those fans and members of the media crying out this off-season that the Red Sox are as bad as the Yankees and were dumping money into players left and right, look at the facts. Even with a contract extension for Gonzo, the Sox would still have been have a payroll over $30 million less than the evil empire. The Sox were semi-economical while improving their bullpen and in other areas of the team because of the huge salary signing of Carl Crawford and the future high salary of Gonzo.

I’m not saying the Sox didn’t spend a ton this off-season, but they also let a lot of salary go. Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez made a combined $16.5 million last season and when you factor in another $8.4 million for Bill Hall who is no longer with the team and $12 million from Mike Lowell who retired (to name a few), there was a lot of available money. The Sox balanced the need to improve their bullpen without committing to long, big-money deals. Theo refused to sign a reliever to a 3-year contract and passed on a few big names (Brian Fuentes and Rafael Soriano) due to their high asking prices.

The addition of Bobby Jenks, an experienced and talented closer, for $12 million over 2 years (split even, $6 million a year) was a very reasonable cost. With the Chicago White Sox last season, Jenks made $7.5 million as their closer, so he essentially received a pay cut to play a set-up role. He will also likely at least compete for the closers role in 2012, so conceivably, the Sox could have a solid closer for half of what Jonathan Papelbon is making this season. The other bullpen addition of Dan Wheeler, a strong veteran righty, cost the Sox only $3 million in 2011 with a vestin $3 million option for 2012. Those 2 moves cost the Sox just $9 million for 2011 and immediately stabilized the middle and end of the ‘pen.

No one knows what type of season this will be for the Red Sox, but there is optimism in Boston. The Sox made a big splash in the free agent and trade market, while maintaining their payroll from 2010 (for now). Go ahead, call the Red Sox the next evil empire, but as long as the Yankees average salary per player is between $2 and 3 million higher than the Sox, they deserve the title as much, if not more than the Sox.