UPDATE: The Red Sox are over the luxury tax threshold

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UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that despite today’s news about exceeding the luxury tax threshold, the Red Sox are still working under the same parameters they always have. In other words, if the team has a chance to acquire a player that can help them get to the playoffs, they will do it. Olney concludes by saying it would make “no sense” to refuse to make a move due to a “relatively small” luxury tax given their current investment in the team.

After giving it some thought, I have to agree with Buster. In fact, with the signings of John Lackey, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro, among others, the Red Sox actually increased their payroll roughly 38 percent from last season — from $121,745,999 million in 2009 to $168,109,833, according to Cot’s Contracts. And this is during a time when player salaries are actually going down. They have invested to win now.

Are the Red Sox going to get Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt or Jayson Werth? No. But that was extremely unlikely to happen anyway. As for the possibility of acquiring David DeJesus, the biggest hurdle may be what the Royals want in return, not his modest salary. Same goes with Scott Downs. As for Kerry Wood, he needs to prove he is healthy first. 

Provided that Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez eventually come back healthy, they should only need minor cosmetic changes to their roster, anyway. It’s just a matter of whether they can hang in the race until all or most of them return. Not many teams would act differently. I’m sure this issue will incite tons of conversation leading up to the trade deadline, but in the end I think it’s a bunch of sound and fury signifying bupkis. 

1:53 PM: This morning, Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe backed up a recent report by Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse that suggested the Red Sox were unlikely to add any significant payroll before the trade deadline due to concern of going over MLB’s luxury tax threshold. Now it might not matter.

Just a short while ago, Carfardo reported that the Red Sox “have found out in the last few hours” that they have indeed gone
over the luxury tax threshold for 2010
, something that will have an impact on the team’s
payroll for 2011.

According to Cafardo, the Red Sox will be taxed at a 22.5 percent rate for every dollar spent above $170 million in payroll. The rate increases to a 30 percent tax for a payroll of $178
million next season. No surprise, the Yankees are the only other team that is over the threshold.

The Red Sox have made a concerted effort to avoid the luxury tax threshold, even not announcing Josh Beckett’s contract extension until after Opening Day so that it wouldn’t count against this season’s total. Evidently something happened to push them over the top, though it’s not exactly clear what that is. Hopefully we’ll hear more on that soon.

Recent reports have indicated that the Red Sox were willing to wait out their injured superstars as opposed to going out and adding any significant payroll. Today’s news probably won’t do anything to change that.

Buyers and Sellers at the Trade Deadline: National League East

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With Manny Machado’s trade completed, the rest of baseball can now turn its attention to the non-blue chip players on the market.

Yesterday, in our look-ahead to the second half, we mentioned some of the top players likely to be made available. Today we look at each team to see who is buying, who is selling, what they’re seeking and what they have to offer. Note: almost every contender, always, needs relief help.

As a reminder, the non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31. Players traded after that date but before August 31 need to pass through waivers unclaimed before they can be traded. All players traded before August 31 are eligible to be on their new team’s playoff roster should they make the postseason.

Next up, the National League East:

Phillies
Status: Buyers. They were a serious contender for Manny Machado until the closing bell.
Wanted: They could really use a third baseman or a shortstop, so expect them to bid hard for Mike Moustakas or Eduardo Escobar should the Twins make him available.

Braves
Status: Buyers. They were in on the Manny Machado talks too but not that in, it seems. They mortgaged their future for a star once when they traded for Mark Teixeira back in the day and weren’t likely to do it again. Aren’t likely to do it even on a smaller scale in the coming weeks.
Wanted: Some bullpen help. A starter if one can be found cheap. A bench bat. They have a loaded farm system and contention wasn’t really supposed to happen until next year, so they’ll be cautious in anything they do.

Nationals
Status: Buyers. They already acquired Kelvin Herrera. They’ll seek to acquire more.
Wanted: Catcher. J.T. Realmuto would be a big get but the Marlins seem to want to build around him or, at the very least, seem to not want to give him to a division rival. There had been talks of a Wilson Ramos reunion, but he was just placed on the DL with a bum hamstring, so that may not be happening.

Mets
Status: Sellers. Probably. They need to figure out where in the hell the organization is heading first. This year is a lost cause, but do they gear up for next year or just burn it all down and try to rebuild?
For Sale: Maybe Noah Syndergaard and/or Jacob deGrom if they take the “burn it all down” approach. If they just try to retrench for next year, they could deal Jerry Blevins and, perhaps, Zach Wheeler or Steven Matz. Jeurys Familia and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera are both free agents after this year so they could be shopped regardless.

Marlins
Status: Sellers. They’re still in the frame-up portion of their rebuild.
For Sale: Assuming Realmuto does not go, any reliever who isn’t nailed down might be flipped. Put your bids in now for Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider, Brad Ziegler and Adam Conley. If it’s position players you seek, feel free to ask the Marlins about Starlin Castro, Justin Bour, Derek Dietrich or Miguel Rojas.