Boston Red Sox: Payroll Versus Luxury Tax Reality Check

Christopher Benvie@CSBenvie81Correspondent IIJanuary 19, 2012

Boston Red Sox: Payroll Versus Luxury Tax Reality Check

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    OK, Red Sox Nation, I am by no means a mathematician, but with the help of Baseball Reference as well as Cot's Baseball Contracts, by my calculations, the Red Sox currently have $146 million and change tied up in player contracts going into the 2012 season.

    The Luxury Tax threshold for 2012 is $178 million.

    Sounds like there is a lot of room to make some splashes, right?  Wrong.

    With the most up-to-date figures I could find, it looks as though the Red Sox still have to sign nine of their own players through arbitration soon.  The most expensive of which coming in the form of David Ortiz, who filed for arbitration seeking $16.5 million for next year.

    The Red Sox offered him $12.65 million.

    The two sides are off by $3.85 million dollars.  For the sake of argument, let's presume that Ortiz agrees to split the difference and signs at $14.575 to play.  That now brings the payroll up to $160.575 million.

    There are still eight players remaining to be signed.  Let's take a look at who's left.

Alfredo Aceves

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    In 2010, Aceves earned $435,650 with the New York Yankees.

    In 2011, he earned $650,000 with the Boston Red Sox.

    That, my friends, is approximately a 50 percent pay increase.  Can you argue that, after what he did in 2011, he doesn't deserve at least that much?

    According to the Boston Herald, Aceves filed for arbitration at $1.6 million while the Red Sox countered at $950,000.  

    For the purpose of this blog, we'll split the difference on all of these arbitration numbers.  So once again, let us presume that the Sox and Aceves reach a deal for $1.275 million.

    That brings the payroll to $161.85 million.

Daniel Bard

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    In 2010 with the Red Sox, Bard earned $415,500.

    In 2011, he eared $505,000, which translates into a 20 percent raise.

    This winter, Bard filed for arbitration asking for $1.825 million.  The Red Sox countered by asking $1.4 million.  They aren't too far off, and it is plausible to see them settling at $1.625 million.

    That brings the payroll to $163.475 million.

Andrew Bailey

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    In 2011 with the Oakland A's, Bailey made $465,000 and is looking to get his first pay day in the big leagues.

    He filed for arbitration asking for $4.7 million, while the Red Sox countered with $3.35 million.

    Split the difference and we assume a deal is worked out for $4.025 million.

    That brings the payroll up to $167.5 million.

Mark Melancon

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    While Melancon is still pre-arbitration eligible, he did earn $421,000 in 2011 with the Houston Astros.

    During that time, he finished 47 games with 20 saves on the heels of a 2.78 ERA and 1.224 WHIP.

    I have every reason to believe that he'll get around a 20 percent increase in 2011.  Under my assumption, he would then earn $505,000 in 2011.

    That brings the Red Sox's payroll up to $168.005 million.

Darnell McDonald

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    McDonald is another player that is pre-arbitration eligible.  The 32-year-old earned $470,000 in 2011 for the Red Sox and while he may see a decent amount of playing time with the big club early in the season, I don't think there will be much of a raise, if any.

    I assume he'll sign at $485,000 for 2012.

    That will bring the payroll to $168.49 million.

Michael Bowden and Felix Doubront

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    There is a good chance that one, if not both, of these pre-arbitration eligible pitchers are in the bullpen on Opening Day.

    In 2011, Doubront eared $417,000, while the last big league contract Bowden earned was in 2009 at $400,000.

    Assuming that an average increase of 20 percent is granted to these players, that would bring their joint salaries to $980,400 in 2012.

    Once again, speculating they're on the Opening Day roster, that brings the payroll to roughly $169.47 million.

Ryan Kalish

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    Ryan Kalish has me scratching my head.  When (if) he gets healthy, he will be your everyday right fielder...or so we think.

    Be that as it may, I assume he would play for $450,000 in his first full year in the majors.  If that is indeed the case, that brings the total payroll to $169.92 million for 2012.

    That leaves roughly $8.08 million if the arbitration figures I came up with prove to be correct or high.  The reality is, the Red Sox have just enough room to sign one more player for short money, and it won't be a pitcher.  They have plenty on minor league deals as it is.

Sign Cody Ross

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    I've made the case before, I'm making it again.

    The Red Sox should sign Cody Ross.

    He could be had for presumably less than $6 million and keep the team under the luxury tax while adding some depth and experience in right field. Considering he had a down year in 2011, I don't think it to be out of the realm of possibility to sign him for one year at $5 million.

    If the Sox do this, the payroll would sit at $174.92 million going into the season, leaving some wiggle room if an arm is needed or payroll should be needed to make a trade at the deadline.

    This is the wisest move they can make at this point to help solidify the team and stay within their payroll goal.