According to Bill Madden and Mark Feinsand, the Red Sox will make a "huge push" for Alex Rodriguez this winter if he opts out of his contract. The New York Daily News writers heard this from multiple sources.
Madden and Feinsand’s source seems to indicate the push for A-Rod would be driven by team president and CEO Larry Lucchino. In other words, this wil go past Theo Epstein (Buster Olney indicated today that he’d be loathe to tie up 20% of the payroll in one player).
The Red Sox entered 2007 with a $143MM payroll, up $23MM from 2006. Here are the major changes we can expect for 2008:
$2MM more for Manny Ramirez
$1MM more for Julio Lugo
$2MM more for Daisuke Matsuzaka
$3.5MM more for Josh Beckett
$1.25MM more for Coco Crisp
An additional $9.75MM in escalating salaries
$13MM for Curt Schilling
9.5MM for Matt Clement
$9MM for Mike Lowell
$2.81MM for Eric Hinske
$4MM for Joel Pineiro
$2.8MM for Mike Timlin
$41.11MM off the books
The Red Sox are essentially gaining $31MM to play with for 2008, if they are to keep payroll around $143MM. That gels nicely with the expected salary of Rodriguez. And the team isn’t overflowing with needs – they could conceivably just replace Schilling with Clay Buchholz and keep Julian Tavarez around as the fifth starter. And maybe they’ll toss another $6MM or so toward crappy veteran relievers. The trio of Papelbon, Okajima, and Delcarmen could be cheap and effective.
Bottom line: the Red Sox could sign A-Rod this winter and enter 2008 with a reasonable $150MM payroll (less than a 5% increase and still far less than the Yankees).