The Boston Red Sox managed to shed some salary by trading Cla Buchholz, but don’t expect them to use those savings on an expensive free agent.
The payroll accountants for the Boston Red Sox can rest easy now that the team is comfortably below the luxury tax.
The trade that sent Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies shaved $13.5 million from Boston’s payroll. While a sizable chunk of change has been cleared from the budget, don’t expect the Red Sox to put those savings toward a lucrative contract for one of the top remaining free agents.
Edwin Encarnacion isn’t walking through that door. Neither is Mark Trumbo or any of the sluggers capable of hitting sky scraping home runs whom Red Sox fans hoped would fill the shoes of the retiring David Ortiz.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Now that Boston has dipped below the luxury tax threshold, resetting the draconian penalties implemented in the new collective bargaining agreement, they intend to stay there. At least for this year. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski confirmed that the Buchholz trade “was not made to create the flexibility to pursue other individuals that would be perceived as big names.”
While Dombrowski went on to say that moving Buchholz’ salary wasn’t “100 percent the driving force” behind the trade, pointing to the multiple years of control they have over other pitchers that could have been traded instead, the cost savings are certainly a significant factor.
The Red Sox 2017 payroll isn’t quite set in stone yet, with contracts for several arbitration eligible players yet to settled. Based on current salaries and arbitration projections from MLB Trade Rumors, Boston’s payroll should end up roughly at about $180-185 million for luxury tax purposes (which is based on the average annual value of player salaries). That puts them comfortably below the new $195 million luxury tax threshold, but not nearly by enough to afford a high profile bat like Encarnacion.
The extra wiggle room gives the Red Sox the flexibility to make mid-season moves if the opportunity or need arises. A trade at the deadline or call up from the minor league system could factor into the team’s final payroll, so entering the season below the tax line affords them a bit of a cushion to work with.
Dombrowski doesn’t believe that the Red Sox “have a driving need at this particular time.” This suggests that he’s done tinkering with the roster, without making a splashy move for a free agent bat.
There’s no need for Dombrowski to make another big move, as he’s already made significant improvements to the roster this winter. He added another ace to the rotation, found his eighth inning setup man for the bullpen and signed a left-handed hitting first baseman.
While many will still be disappointed that he didn’t chase after one of the top free agent bats, Dombrowski still checked off three of his main priorities, all while managing to stay below the luxury tax. I’d call that a successful offseason.