According to reporter Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox’ payroll is already past the $189M luxury tax threshold for the 2015 season.
After a flurry of activity this offseason, signing free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to huge contracts while also adding Justin Masterson, Koji Uehara, and Craig Breslow on lesser deals, it’s no surprise to see that Boston’s payroll has grown significantly. And despite reports earlier this offseason that Red Sox management would not hesitate to “blow through” the threshold, this news could very well impact the rest of the offseason.
The Red Sox have certainly made great strides with their rotation, but their three moves (adding Masterson, Rick Porcello, and Wade Miley) have given the team depth and quality innings rather than elite talent. Many have made the argument that, even with Boston’s much-improved lineup, the Red Sox need an ace to win. However, with the news that the team is already at the luxury tax threshold, it appears likely that the Red Sox could stand pat for the remainder of the offseason.
Another possibility is that the Red Sox will attempt to free up space on their payroll and then add a less expensive starter like Johnny Cueto or Jordan Zimmermann through a trade. Both Allen Craig (owed $6.2M next season) and Shane Victorino (owed $13M next season) have seen their names pop up in a handful of trade rumors and the subtraction of either player, particularly Victorino, would give the Red Sox some wiggle room.
It’s tough to know what to expect from the Red Sox for the rest of the offseason, but per my estimation, the most likely scenario would be that the Red Sox do trade either Victorino or Craig. However, rather than adding an ace during the offseason, the Red Sox will re-assess their needs at the trade deadline and stand pat for the rest of the winter. Still, it’s entirely possible that the Red Sox will just blow through the threshold as they earlier suggested. This has been a crazy offseason for the Red Sox and this spending crunch will add another element to the intrigue.