The Red Sox opened the season with the third largest payroll in baseball according to USA Today, but they are open to going to even higher under the right circumstances. Team president Larry Lucchino told Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin of MLB Network Radio that they're willing to add payroll to improve the pitching staff even if it takes them over the luxury tax threshold.
"I don’t think there’s any question about that," said Lucchino. "We’ve been above the threshold the last couple of years ... Our goal is to field a team with more homegrown players, fewer free agents, and to have a more manageable payroll down the road. But if you’re asking about this year, we understand that each year has to be taken on its own and this year our payroll is going to be, I’d hate to make a guess, but it’ll be well over the $178 million dollar threshold."
Boston opened the season with a payroll just north of $173MM, but that number only includes the 25-man active roster and players on the disabled list. The full 40-man roster and player benefits are counted towards the luxury tax.
"It’s important to us to get under the threshold when we can, depending on when the circumstances will allow us to do so," added Lucchino. “Ultimately we’d love to field the team we need to field with fewer dollars, if that’s possible at the major league level. We’re always going to invest a tremendous amount of money into scouting and player development because that’s the secret."
The Yankees have also spoken about getting under the luxury tax threshold in the coming years, a move that would reset their luxury tax rate and qualify them to receive a rebate of a portion of their revenue sharing payments. The Red Sox would receive the same benefits by getting under the threshold.
The obvious target for pitching help would be Roy Oswalt, who remains a free agent. The Red Sox could also absorb money in a trade once the market begins to develop in a few weeks. An impending free agent like Jeremy Guthrie or Ryan Dempster could become a target, but that is just my speculation.