How much do the Red Sox have to spend this offseason?

How much do the Red Sox have to spend this offseason?
November 18, 2013, 1:45 pm
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In the in-between period that separates the GM Meetings from the Winter Meetings, the Red Sox have yet to make a single signing for 2014.

Before they do, it might be a good time to determine how much the Sox have in their offseason budget.

Traditionally, the Red Sox do not publicly reveal what their budget is for a season, believing that such a declaration only aids the competition in determining what moves the Sox will make and how much salary room they have remaining.

But if it can be assumed that the 2014 Red Sox will spend at least to the same relative level they did in 2013, the Sox' budget for the upcoming season will sit somewhere between $150-$160 million.

That payroll ranked the Red Sox fourth overall in Major League Baseball at $154.5 million, behind only the New York Yankees ($228.1 million), Los Angeles Dodgers ($216.7 million) and Philadelphia Phillies ($159.5 million).

As it stands, the Red Sox have committed $125.8 million in salary obligations to 12 players -- roughly half the roster -- a figure that includes $3.9 million to the Los Angeles Dodgers, left over from the teams' mega-deal in 2012.

Additionally, the Sox have five players who are salary arbitration-eligible: relievers Andrew Bailey, Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa, and first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp.

None, however, is likely to get the kind of huge salary given to, say, Jacoby Ellsbury, who was signed for a one-year, $9 million deal last winter before the two sides could go to arbitration.

The most expensive of the five arbitration-eligibles will be Bailey, even though he missed half of 2013 with a shoulder injury. Arbitration awards -- and even settlements -- take into account accrued service time nearly as much as on-field performance.

And because Bailey made $4.1 million last year, he'll receive a slight raise this time around. MLBTradeRumors.com projects Bailey will get $4.3 million.

The same site estimates that Miller projects at approximately $1.9 million (up from $1.47 million in 2013), Morales at $1.8 million (up from $1.48 million), Carp at $1.3 million (up from $508,000) and Tazawa at $1.1 million (up from $815,000).

Those arbitration-eligible players add up to an estimated $10.4 million, bringing the total committed to $136.2 million for 17 players.

But because Bailey is expected to miss the first half of 2014 as he recovers from shoulder surgery, the Sox might be wise to non-tender him in early December and attempt to re-sign him at a lesser amount.

The non-tender is an important distinction from a club's standpoint. Under the collective bargaining agreement, players eligible for arbitration can only have their salaries reduced by 20 percent from the previous season. But non-tendered players carry no such paramaters and are free agents.

The risk, of course, is that Bailey could sign elsewhere. But given that the Sox have Koji Uehara, Craig Breslow, Tazawa, Miller, Morales and others -- including Brandon Workman - as bullpen pieces either under contract or under their control, a non-tender for Bailey wouldn't be at all surprising.

Were the Sox to do that, it would leave them with $131.9 million for 16 players.

Another handful of players who figure in the team's 2014 plans are so-called "0-3 players" -- that is, players who have accumulated fewer than three years of major-league service time and are ineligible for salary arbitration.

That group includes Felix Doubront -- who fell exactly two days short of qualifying as one the "Super 2" players eligible for early arbitration rights -- Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts and others.

Those four will make, combined, less than $3 million, bringing the total to approximately $135 million for 20 players.

That leaves the Red Sox with approximately $20-$25 million to spend.

Part of that total could be allocated toward re-signing Mike Napoli for first base. Napoli stands to make somewhere between $14-$16 million per year, leaving the Sox with an additional $5-$10 million.

Unless they decide to expand their payroll past $160 million, it would seem to be a difficult fit to bring Stephen Drew back. Drew will command a salary of beyond $10-$12 million on the open market.

Of course, the Red Sox could save money by having Bogaerts -- who will play for a tick over the $500,000 minimum - take over at short and Jackie Bradley Jr. replace Ellsbury in center.

Two other key points to consider: Teams are about to realize an additional $25 million in national TV rights fees in 2014, which would allow the Sox to increase their payroll exponentially.

Also, the Red Sox could realize significant savings by dealing off one of their veteran starting pitchers such as Ryan Dempster ($13.25 million due in 2014), John Lackey ($15.95 million) or Jake Peavy ($14.5 million).