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Fact finding mission: How much more can the Red Sox spend on the 2011 roster?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 7, 2010 10:54 AM

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Now that Adrian Gonzalez is in the fold and almost certainly will agree to a seven-year, $154 million contract extension in the spring, how much money do the Red Sox have left to spend?

This is an inexact science and it's hard to go dollar for dollar. But you can come up with a pretty good estimate based on the 2010 payroll of $168 million.

In public comments, John Henry and Tom Werner have indicated the payroll would stay the same. So let's start with that assumption.

Now let's look at the money the Red Sox have coming off the books.

GONE FROM 2010
Mike Lowell: $12.5 million
Adrian Beltre: $10.0 million
Julio Lugo's dead money: $9.2 million
Victor Martinez: $7.7 million
Jeremy Hermida: $3.3 million
Hideki Okajima: $2.7 million
Ramon Ramirez: $1.1 million
Billy Wagner's dead money: $1 million
Assorted others (Delcarmen, Schoeneweis, Bonser, etc): $2 million

SALARY DECREASES FOR 2011
Tim Wakefield: $1.5 million less
Jason Varitek: $1 million less (could be $700,000 less if he hits incentives)
John Lackey: $2.75 million less based on his signing bonus in 2010

That comes out to $54.75 million being dropped off the payroll.

2011 PAYROLL ADDITIONS
Adrian Gonzalez: $6.2 million
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: $0.75 million

SALARY INCREASES FOR 2011
Josh Beckett: $3.75 million
Kevin Youkilis: $2.875 million
Daisuke Matsuzaka: $2 million
Jon Lester: $2 million
Dustin Pedroia: $2 million

EXPECTED RAISES
Jacoby Ellsbury: $2.5 million
Jonathan Papelbon: $2.5 million

(Ellsbury and Papelbon were tendered contracts last week and as such, will get raises either via negotiation or arbitration. These are assumptions on the high side)

That comes out $24.58 million.

To some degree, you can say the Sox have taken $54.75 million off the payroll and spent $24.58 million of it. Therefore they have $30.17 million to spend.

Go get Carl Crawford or Cliff Lee! But it's not that simple.

PAYROLL COMMITMENTS FOR 2012
Adrian Gonzalez: $22 million (estimated)
Josh Beckett: $15.75 million
John Lackey: $15.75 million
Kevin Youkilis: $12 million
Daisuke Matsuzaka: $10 million
Dustin Pedroia: $8 million
Jon Lester: $7.6 million
Marco Scutaro: $3 million (or $1 million buyout)

So based on only eight players, the Sox have already spent roughly $90 million for 2012. If you add Crawford or Lee, that figure balloons to at least $110 million and you're accounting for only nine of 25 players. That's not a good balance.

In theory, yes, the Red Sox have the money to go sign Crawford. But that commitment is going to be for at least seven or eight years. And chewing up $20 million of the $30 million left leaves little room for improving the bullpen and paying the guys who fill out the roster. It also leaves little wiggle room for in-season trades.

That $30 million could be better spent this way:

$10-$12 million on a right-handed hitter (say Magglio Ordonez) on a short-term deal
$10-$12 million on bullpen help
$6-$10 million on roster filler, in-season maneuverability

How much pain did the bullpen cause the Red Sox last season? Think of that before demanding another big-ticket player.

Tempting as it may be to spent a good chunk of their remaining dough on a star, the Red Sox should bank on this: The loss of Beltre and Martinez to the offense will be balanced by the addition of Gonzalez and the return to health of Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youkilis. Throw in a guy like Odonez or Josh Willingham and the offense is fine.

The Sox will score. They still need a bullpen and not assorted vagabonds on make-good deals. They need Scott Downs, guys like that.

What is your opinion?

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