The Red Sox announced yesterday that they have non-tendered Hideki Okajima, Taylor Buchholz and Andrew Miller as they enter the Major League Winter Meetings this weekend at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.
After signing Jason Varitek to a one year, two million dollar contract to mentor and back-up Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox are expected to come full circle on contract proposals to Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and other players that may include Adrian Beltre, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Lance Berkman, Jorge Cantu and a plethora of middle relief and set-up specialists in an effort to fortify its bullpen.
From a fiscal perspective, the Red Sox are in a flexible state in part to its ability to secure 18 minor league players on its 40-man roster as of right now who are expected to earn $67,500 for the next year with the exception of shortstop Jose Iglesias who signed a 4-year contract in 2010 for $8.25 million.
The luxury tax for all major league baseball teams in 2011 is $178 million and if the Red Sox are attempting to spend up to that number then they have an estimated $35.349 million to play with.
With that in mind and in consideration of a down economic market, the Red Sox may play to the $170 million number, which was the 2009 luxury tax, and give the Red Sox front office only $27.349 million.
And, that financial difference may be the difference between signing any two of the free agents noted above or only signing one of the named free agents above.
According to Boston Globe and ESPN Boston Red Sox reporter Gordon Edes, the Red Sox spend an estimated $11 million in player benefits which bites into the Red Sox flexibility.
However, if the Red Sox are planning on spending to the luxury tax, then the Sox are going to be able to sign Crawford/Werth, a first baseman/third baseman and one or two middle relievers or set-up men.
It has been reported that Crawford is seeking an eight year deal for $17 million a year, which would leave about $18 million to address its other corner infield position and two relief pitchers.
Last year, Berkman made $14.5 million, Lee made $13 million, Konerko made $12 million and Cantu made $6 million. It is highly unlikely that Lee or Berkman warrant raises considering their 2009 campaigns (Lee hit .260, 19 HR, 80 runs and 80 RBI and Berkman hit .248, 14 HR, 48 runs and 58 RBI).
In the case of Konerko, his contract may be a bit more challenging. Konerko, who grew up in Providence and was once rumored to be a Red Sox free agent target, hit .312 while hitting 39 HR's and driving 111 RBI's. Konerko is going to want a long-term deal at age 35 and it would likely be for no less than 3 years.
Of course, the Sox can make one last attempt at Adrian Beltre who is reportedly close to signing a five year, $64 million deal with the Oakland A's according to Rotoworld.com.
Cantu is a fallback player that the Sox can look at as well. He is a streaky hitter who only hit .256 last year while hitting 11 home runs and driving 56 RBI while being able to play both third and first base and was cost-effective after making only $6 million last year.
However, Cantu was a Marlin which is John Henry's former backyard and it would be the second time that the Red Sox decided to take a former third baseman from that state (Mike Lowell).