The Red Sox’s Future Payroll Obligations

A few days ago the Red Sox freed up more than a quarter-billion dollars in the future payroll obligation with their blockbuster nine-player trade with the Dodgers. Nine-figure commitments to Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are suddenly off the books, as is a short-term but still substantial commitment to Josh Beckett. GM Ben Cherington essentially hit the reset button on the club's payroll situation.

A few hours after the trade we broke down the Dodgers' future payroll obligations, which are up to $88.5MM in 2017. Now let's turn the tables and look at what the Red Sox still have on the books going forward, which is a pittance compared to their trade counterpart. With a big assist from Cot's Baseball Contracts, here is an unofficial recap of Boston's guaranteed commitments (salaries and buyouts only, not arbitration or pre-arbitration players)…

  • 2013 ($42.938MM)John Lackey ($15.25MM), Jon Lester ($11.625MM), Dustin Pedroia ($10MM), Clay Buchholz ($5.5MM), Jose Iglesias (approximately $563K)
  • 2014 ($33.2MM) — Lackey ($15.25MM), Pedroia ($10MM), Buchholz ($7.7MM), Lester ($250K buyout)
  • 2015 ($12.5MM) — Buchholz ($12MM), Pedroia ($500K buyout)
  • 2016 ($245K) — Buchholz ($245K buyout)

The Red Sox will have a massive 11-player arbitration class next season, though not all will be tendered contracts. Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew Bailey, Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, and Franklin Morales highlight those 11 players. Other than that, Cherington will have plenty of room to work with going forward, especially if ownership is willing to maintain the same $160MM+ payroll they've had the last three seasons.

Full Story | 62 Comments | Categories: Boston Red Sox

62 Responses to The Red Sox’s Future Payroll Obligations Leave a Reply

  1. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Personally. I expect Aceves to be moved over the winter after the altercation and problems in the clubhouse a few days ago. The team has multiple relief options other than him and even if/when Bailey goes down again? They have others who can be tried out as a closer in Carpenter, Melencon etc..

    When the BP consists of Atchison, Miller, Mortenson, Breslow, Tazawa, Melencon, Hill, Bard who they can see if his mechanics are better by ST and they haven’t even called upon Alex Wilson and Carpenter? Aceves can be a piece included in a trade.


    Mike: Lackey should have a league minimum salary included as a team option for 2015.

    • MaineSox 3 years ago

      It looks like this only includes guaranteed money, so the team option wouldn’t be included on here.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        Must be it then Maine. Figured if arbitration was included (non guaranteed contracts) team options would also. You are probably right tho that he left it out on purpose.


        • kb 3 years ago

          but arbitration dollars are not listed or included in this “guaranteed” money list. See how he doesn’t list Lester, Buchholz, and Pedroia’s options either. He just lists their guarantee portion of the option…the buy out. Lackey doesn’t have a buyout on his option.

    • The Aceves issue was with Valentine, who hasn’t had problems with Valentine, he needs to go, then I thing everything goes back to normal… hopefully

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        What?? He tore off his uniform and stormed out of Valentine’s office, slammed the door after being informed Baily was the closer? Sounds to me like he doesn’t like being told he isn’t the closer, which he was never to be long term in the 1st place and Valentine is baby stepping his way right now to getting the point across to him via the media, rather than spelling it out directly as he should and probably did in the face to face meeting that led to a pout fest with Aceves.

        I like Aceves also, he is one of the finer swing men around, but he is not now, nor never was an even average closer and the team was going to have to replace him over the winter even if Bailey stayed injured. Aceves should have been able to figure it out with the brain of a politician even he did a rotten job as a closer and was a superb long man/emergency SP.

        • BoSoXaddict 3 years ago

          Aceves is certainly crazy but I like his crazy. It’s unfortunate because the role that he is MOST valuable in – as a pitcher able to pitch in basically ANY situation – is a role he does not (understandably to some degree) seem to be happy with. He’s gonna want another opportunity to start again in ST if he’s on the team next year and I have to think he would be very unhappy if he didn’t make it. For that reason, perhaps a trade is best after-all.

  2. If Cherington can somehow dump Lackey’s Salary he will be my new hero.

  3. soxfan123123 3 years ago

    Only 15 mill for Lackey? What a steal!

  4. Aveces and Lackey are next to go. Can’t see them paying Buchholz $12m either in 2015 if he doesn’t improve.

    • Travis J. Liles 3 years ago

      Improve? Since early May he has a 3.13 ERA over 112.1 innings. Thats his last 16 starts. Sure his overall ERA isnt great, but thats mostly due to a bad April, pretty much the only time he hasnt been good since his rookie year.

    • BoSoXaddict 3 years ago

      Have you been paying attention to Buchholz’ starts lately?

  5. Joe Goodin 3 years ago

    Under Lackey’s contract, I think we’re supposed to have him for 500k in 2015 because he missed a substantial amount of time, am I wrong?

    • BoSoXaddict 3 years ago

      Yes, you are correct. “2015 club option at Major League minimum
      salary if Lackey misses significant time with surgery for pre-existing
      elbow injury in 2010-14″

    • Voice_of_Reason 3 years ago

      Correct. This actually lowers his avg annual salary to closer to $10m assuming the MLB min option is picked up in ’15. Ironically the surgery actually makes him more tradeable …

  6. ugotrpk3113 3 years ago

    I think they should look at LaRoche for 1B as an option this offseason (if he’s available). Then we could use a utility player capable of manner 3B to spell Middlebrooks, since progression is normal for young players.

    Tricky part is what to do with the OF. Ellsbury (IMO) should be dealt. If they can get a controllable OF or SP, I think they should explore it.

    Then after that, who knows. They have obvious holes in OF, catcher (not a Salty fan), and 7th/8th inning.

    • BoSoXaddict 3 years ago

      Definitely tricky when it comes to Ellsbury. But, with all this new $$$ off the books I would like to see them pursue an extension this off-season. Now that Crawford is gone the potential lineup redunancy of having both of them is no longer an issue (not to mention not having the $ for Ells) and also recent “leaks” have suggested that Jacoby (contrary to popular belief) would actually be amenable to staying in Boston longterm as opposed to testing FA.

      • Travis J. Liles 3 years ago

        I think they should try their hardest to extend Ellsbury ASAP and if they are successful use Bradley Jr as a centerpiece for a deal for King Felix.

        • BoSoXaddict 3 years ago

          That would be lovely but Seattle isn’t going to trade King Felix and if he did it would take a much bigger centerpiece than Bradley Jr. That said, I would basically give the M’s whatever they wanted for Felix if they DID make him available..but so would every other team in baseball!

        • Crucisnh 3 years ago

          No, they should let Ellsbury WALK or trade him, and keep JBJr for CF.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            Agree. Why some people claiming to be Sox fans want to get saddled with another bad contract waiting to happen in Ellsbury is beyond me.

            These are the same ones who would/will be flaming the Sox FO as soon as Ells is injured and/or begins to slip and rest assured.. Boras IS going to get 6+ years and at least a 20m AAV for someone who will be nearing 30YO when the deal is signed and makes their living with his legs.. it is a albatross contract waiting to happen for whoever signs him.

            Bradley is close and a terrific replacement, Ells needs to be moved, or allowed to play out his deal and offered arbitration.

          • Crucisnh 3 years ago

            Yes, exactly. Ellsbury is a speed player who makes his living from his speedy legs. But his next contract is going to be with him on the wrong side of 30. It’s time to let him go and let someone else send good money after bad.

            As I said earlier, it’s better to save the big money contracts for stud pitchers and stud sluggers. Sluggers to tend to hold their value longer than speed players.

          • Or every team’s FO, all of which have baseball people smarter than everyone on this comment list combined myself included, will not make a market for him and the red sox can get him on like a 4/40 or 5/50 deal. That for a guy who has a non-zero chance of being 2011 Ellsbury is a good deal

      • Crucisnh 3 years ago

        Pfft. Ells is “amenable” to staying in Boston because Boras doesn’t want to take one of the big money teams (particularly with a lot of free cash to spend) off the table. Ellsbury will go where the money is. And the Red Sox should let him walk (or trade him).

      • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

        Why did I think Bradley was younger than he is? I keep forgetting he went to USCarolina. He’s 23 in April? Wow. Not old but older than I thought.

    • Crucisnh 3 years ago

      Actually, I think that Pedro Ciriaco seems to be a very nice utility IFer. He can hit, bunt, play defense, play 2B, 3B, or SS. And has speed to burn!!! About the only thing he doesn’t seem able to do is take a walk. 😉

  7. $17857693 3 years ago

    The Red Sox could easily compete with the lower cost guys if they play it right. I think the red sox should look into Laroche and Stephen Drew if they happen to be available, both should only cost 2-3 year deals in the 6-9mil per year range, and both could be upgrades from the current options they have. If they can re-sign Cody Ross, and possibly sign a LF, their lineup will be solid. As for the pitching staff, i would honestly just like to see them sign 1 starting pitcher like Kuroda (if he wants to leave NY) or maybe Marcum to a 2-3 year deal seeing how his stock has dropped some. I think we could compete for a wildcard spot with a team looking something like this..
    De La Rosa/ Doubront
    Ortiz/ Lavarnway
    Ludwick? Kalish?

    • Lionel Bossman Craft 3 years ago

      I dont think Kuroda would come to Boston.

  8. lackey also has a clause that if he misses significant time then the red sox get a team option at the end of his contract that pays him league minimum for one year.

    • wickedkevin 3 years ago

      It’s already in effect because he had TJ surgery. Last year has a club option for 500k now.

  9. The payroll issues might simply be a plus; I think that Cherington wanted to get the clubhouse under control. Aceves will probably be non-tendered, although he’ll find work elsewhere. Ellsbury is perhaps the trickiest situation; he has to be re-signed long-term.

    • Crucisnh 3 years ago

      Adam, the Sox do not need to extend Ellsbury. I’d rather that they trade him or let him walk. People are far too attached to players. Ellsbury and his agent, Boras, are going to want silly money, and the Sox shouldn’t oblige. They have his CF replacement already working up down at AA in Jackie Bradley Jr, who will most likely be ready for 2014, if not a smidge sooner. The Sox should reserve their big money deals for stud pitchers and sluggers, neither of which describes Ellsbury.

      • Voice_of_Reason 3 years ago

        I agree … I dont think he’s back. Boras will use the Crawford deal as a starting point and will probably be seeking at least 8/$160m. I think the Sox see what they can get for him in the offseason specifically as part of a deal for a SP. His value will be depressed by his agent however so they may very well end up keeping him until atleast the trade deadline (assuming they’re out of it) or thru the EOY and take the draft pick.

  10. Fitch94 3 years ago

    Take every dollar and build the farm system into a machine. They got away from that.

    • sdsuphilip 3 years ago

      Can’t do that anymore with the new draft/international spending rules

      • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

        not true at all

        • sdsuphilip 3 years ago

          Actually it is, there is now a limit of what you can spend, you can’t just “take every dollar and build the farm system into a machine”

          • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

            there is ways around it, like how teams this year drafted players and gave them 10,000 in a bonus

          • sdsuphilip 3 years ago

            which is not “Take every dollar and build the farm system into a machine”

    • TheGettus 3 years ago

      They really never got away from it. The freak illness of Westmoreland and the two guys we gave up for Gonzo left holes, but the farm system was already looking pretty good before Ben added to it in the Dodger deal. Don’t forget where Middlebrooks came from, and watch for the “B’s” on the way…Barnes, Brentz, Boegarts, and Bradley.

  11. iheartyourfart 3 years ago

    if you told me a team would be stoked to have lackey as their highest paid player earlier this season i would have lol’d. but now i serious’d.

  12. Boston did a great job getting anything back for that much money, let alone that kind of talent. Even if only one pans out then they win the deal. Dodgers took on a lot of money and risk just for Adrian Gonzalez.

    • Otis26 3 years ago

      Not a Sox fan but from my perspective I think this was a brilliant move by Boston. The Yankees are going to have to blow up their roster at some point as well, and this just gives the Beaners a head-start on rebuilding.

  13. elclashcombo 3 years ago

    So Lackey’s contract going forward is approx 31.5M/3YR (2013 thru 2015). What do you think it would take to unload this contract assuming he pitches fairly well through ST and April, etc?

    • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

      Unless the Sox pick up someone like Marcum or Garza during the offseason I don’t think they’ll drop Lackey. Right now next year’s rotation looks to be Lester, Buchholz, Doubront, De La Rosa, and Lackey with Morales as the 6th man starting the season in the pen.

      I just don’t think they’ll be quick to let go of a starter unless they have a replacement signed up.

    • BoSoXaddict 3 years ago

      I think at this point the Sox are probably better off seeing what he can offer when healthy at the back of the rotation..

      • Crucisnh 3 years ago

        I agree. The Sox desperately need starters who will go deeper into games and regularly pitch 7-8 innings per start, rather than 5-6, to put less stress on the bullpen. And I think that a healthy Lackey would be able to help out in this regard.

    • APNDaveR 3 years ago

      I think he’s going to start the season with them at least. It’s in the team’s best interests to re-establish him as a pitcher post-TJ, if only to get something rather than nothing for him in trade. After that, I don’t think it would be difficult to trade him. It’s not like he’s signed to an 8-year deal or anything. The only issues are what you’d get back and how much $ you’d have to take on in a deal.

  14. nathanalext 3 years ago

    The Sox’s payroll is not going to go up too much next year. The F.A. class for this offseason is basically, a handful of decent starting pitchers and Josh Hamilton.

    • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sox take a run at a pitcher but beyond that, yeah my guess is they’ll be making smaller moves. My guess is they check in on Grienke and pass mostly because I doubt Cherington will be willing to sign a FA to a $100M+ contract any time in the near future.

      One name that’s possible is Jackson. The Red Sox were linked to him last offseason so they might rekindle their interest.

  15. Leonard Washington 3 years ago

    I like the move, as much as I will miss Adrian. But lets get this straight getting rid of two players that actually played the majority of the season, one 30 gamer, and a bench bat is far from a fire sale. This is just a brilliant roster re tool. Ideally we can use cash to lower prospect returns and pick up some good players through trade. If Upton is available I would love for us to trade for him now. That right handed swing… would look good in our lineup….real good. If we can hold onto the 3 B’s (Barnes, Bradley, Bogaerts) I am game.

  16. Kevin Clark 3 years ago

    I love how they dumped all of these contracts to rebuild yet people still have so much to complain about. Maybe when they run the show they will somehow know ahead of time how contracts will work out. For the record, when the Sox signed Lackey it was huge. He was an ace on the Angels with great playoff numbers. They were saying the Sox had the best rotation in baseball. It didn’t work out.. similar to AJ Burnett, similar to Barry Zito and countless others. As Jerry Remy says- Anyone can second guess, ask yourself what decision you would make at the time the decision was made, otherwise be quiet.

  17. YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

    That’s it…..embrace the suck. Life gives you lemons….enjoy the glass of lemonade.

  18. Michael 3 years ago

    Regardless of salary, the next dump should be Aceves. Bad attitude and closer results that stir up memories of Eric Gagne, Rob Murphy and Tom House. They traded for Bailey and Melancon….what’s goin’ on?

  19. halflink123 3 years ago

    Sometimes the only way to grow a lush, vibrant forest is to have a forest fire.

  20. PWNdroia 3 years ago

    I agree, I’m not much for Aceves right now. If he was pitching lights out, taht’s another story. But when you complain and you don’t pitch well that’s a problem.

  21. Kevin Clark 3 years ago

    well he has pitched quite well in his career. He’s not a closer, he stepped in and did a decent job most of the season despite his early and recent struggles. His previous role fell to Aaron Cook which was a disaster. Hopefully they can work this out and get him back to being a long reliever and spot starter

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