An updated look at Red Sox payroll

June 11, 2014 - 9:40 am

BALTIMORE -- As the focus of front offices shifts from the draft to the trade deadline, how much do the Red Sox have left to spend? Already this year, the Red Sox have redeployed the money they saved when Ryan Dempster announced that he would not pitch this year. The Sox essentially used the $13.25 million he left on the table to sign Chris Capuano ($2.25 million, plus additional incentives) as well as Stephen Drew ($10.1 million). Still, even with those deals, the team isn't tapped out. '€œWe do [have the resources to make trades],'€ said GM Ben Cherington. '€œWe'€™re fortunate that we'€™ve got a lot of support from ownership and our fans, and I feel like, if there'€™s any deal that makes sense, that makes us better, that'€™s not a limitation.'€ Under the right circumstances, the Red Sox would be willing to go over the $189 million luxury tax threshold, though the team prefers not to, both because doing so would require paying the tax (in this instance, 17.5 percent on any spending over $189 million) and would become ineligible for a revenue sharing rebate (though the size of that rebate is not expected to be significant). Still, even if the team makes a firm commitment to staying under the luxury tax threshold for the third straight year, it would appear to have room to maneuver -- should the team put itself in a competitive position to justify those kinds of commitments. Right now, for the purposes of luxury tax calculations (which reflect average annual salaries, incentives, salaries for players on the 40-man roster, medical benefits, and the $3.9 million the Sox are paying to the Dodgers), the team has $151 million in guaranteed commitments, another $8 million committed in non-guaranteed deals to their arbitration-eligible players while projecting to spend about $4 million on pre-arbitration-eligible players who have spent sizable chunks of time on the major league roster. (Both Ryan Lavarnway and Steven Wright, for instance, received (and, in Lavarnway's case, is receiving) full major league salaries while on the 60-day DL.) A reasonable projection would suggest that the Sox will have to pay about $3 million in incentive bonuses -- though such a calculation assumes that Grady Sizemore doesn't come close to maximizing his earnings, and instead tops out at around $1 million in incentives, a number that he could exceed significantly if he gets hot enough to maintain his roster spot. The team likely also needs to earmark a sizable chunk of change for more big league callups (an estimated $2.5 million) while also having money to pay the salaries of minor league players on the 40-man roster (another $1 million or so) and roughly $11 million in medical benefits. Putting together all of those expenditures, the Red Sox appear to have about $184 million committed to 2014 payroll -- leaving them about $4 million or $5 million under the luxury tax threshold -- meaning that, if the team had a deal to make along the lines of the one it made last year, when it acquired Jake Peavy at the deadline, it could do so while likely figuring out a way to stay under the threshold. Here's a look at the Red Sox payroll as calculated for luxury tax purposes: