As of today the Red Sox only have 5 players on the books for 2013 for an average salary for luxury tax purposes of $5 million or more-Lackey, Ortiz, Buchholz, Pedroia and Lester. They total about $50 million. If we assume Ellsbury gets about $10 million, that brings it to $60 million. Add in the other guys that make up the 40 man roster, plus benefits and the other amounts for LT purposes, and we're up to about $100 million committed for 2013. The LT threshold for 2013 is $178 million. So we have roughly $80 million that could be added without going over the threshold.
How much are the Sox planning to add? Cherington has already made some statements that the payroll will be large, one of the largest in baseball. This seems like a reassurance to the fans, similar to the one Lucchino made before the 2011 season. At that time Larry virtually promised the fans that the Sox would make two big additions. Sure enough, the additions were AGon and Crawford.
The 2013 payroll situation is an interesting one. One factor is that the rules change in 2014 to make any team going over the threshold, which increases to $189 million, subject to a second, new and substantial penalty on top of the tax. So if the Sox were to stay well under the threshold for 2013, that doesn't necessarily mean they will spend their 'savings' in the future. It seems like a more logical strategy would be to have a payroll that is under the threshold every year.
There's also the fact that fans are obviously expecting some significant moves after the 2012 debacle and the salary dump with the Dodgers. A lot of people aren't going to be happy if the Sox decide to go cheap this year.
So how much will they add? I'm guessing they will add between $50 million and $60 million before Opening Day.