Will the Red Sox be hamstrung by the luxury tax at the trade deadline?

July 10, 2010 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - 10 July 2010: Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.

According to Senior MLB Writer Ed Price at AOL Fanhouse, the Red Sox could be limited at the trade deadline this year because of the luxury tax.

That tax, which in the Red Sox’ case would be 22.5 percent of every dollar over $170 million in payroll, is based on the so-called “actual club payroll,” not the Opening Day payroll. So the pro-rated salaries of any players acquired in a trade would count toward that figure.

The Associated Press listed Boston’s Opening Day payroll as $162.7 million, although the luxury-tax figure will also include players on the 40-man roster and players’ benefit.

Thus, the Red Sox are about tapped out. The source said the front office would have to “jump through hoops” — make a strong case to ownership — just to add $500,000 in salary over the rest of the season. That’s the equivalent of a player making $1.1 million for the year.

Paying luxury tax this year would make Boston liable to a 30 percent luxury tax on payroll over $178 million in 2011, when Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester are due for raises.

If the Red Sox are having financial issues, nobody tell David Ortiz, who recently said that he wants a multi-year contract extension.

Even though Boston is still very much in the playoff hunt, it’s been an uphill battle for them in 2010. As Price notes in his article, roughly $45 million worth of Red Sox players are on the disabled list, including Josh Beckett ($12 million), Dustin Pedroia ($3.5) million, Victor Martinez ($7 million), Jason Varietk ($5 million), Clay Buchholz ($440,000), Mike Lowell ($12 million) and Jacoby Ellsbury ($500,000).

With their growing list of injuries, the Red Sox probably won’t be able to stay in contention in the second half at their current state. They could stand to add a reliever, an outfielder or perhaps even another starter, but if Price is right and Theo Epstein will be limited at the deadline, then we might be looking at a Boston-less postseason in a couple of months.

If their 7-2 loss to the Rangers on Thursday night was a taste of things to come, then the BoSox are in store for a long second half.

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Red Sox would “love” to have Jason Bay back

At least, this according to WEEI.com:

Speaking at an event to honor Red Sox principal owner John Henry, who received the Woodrow Wilson Award for corporate sponsorship, team president/CEO Larry Lucchino expressed his organization’s desire to re-sign Jason Bay.

“Very much so,” Lucchino said when asked if the Red Sox wanted the outfielder back. “We’d love to have him back. He’s in many ways the personification of a player we want here.”

The Red Sox’ exclusive period to negotiate with Bay runs out at midnight Thursday.

Bay will draw plenty of interest on the open market, but the Red Sox certainly have the cash to re-sign him. It just depends on whether or not a more lucrative offer comes along and Bay bites on it. (Translation: It just depends on whether or not Bay wants to go the way of CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira and play for the Yankees next season.)

What will be interesting is whether or not he heads back to the NL on his own accord. He has proven that he can produce in either league, but usually hitters want to play in the NL because of the weaker pitching. Any number of teams could use Bay’s services, but it’ll all depend on which team will open up its wallet and which ones he feels gives him an opportunity to win.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Papelbon voices displeasure over Sox potentially acquiring Wagner

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon isn’t thrilled about his club potentially acquiring reliever Billy Wagner from the Mets.

From the Boston Herald:

“It’s a tough decision, because do you disrupt what we have now or do you make it better?” he said. “It’s a tough decision, and I’m glad I don’t have to make it.”

“I think that we have a good dynamic in the bullpen, I think we have guys who know how to work together,” Papelbon said. “Is Billy Wagner a good pitcher? Would he bring some more depth to our bullpen and make our bullpen better? There’s no question about it, but you also have to think about what we have now and what we’ve been able to accomplish to this point in the season and how good we’ve been.

“It’s not that it shakes the balance; you have that little bit of time of getting used to it, but how are we going to use this guy now, what situation is he going to be best in, who’s going to leave our bullpen – it’s a multitude of things. It’s not just one specific thing.”

Asked if Wagner’s addition would be welcomed, Papelbon said “no question.”

“I don’t think in this environment you hold grudges or you get an ego about yourself,” Papelbon said. “When a guy comes in, you welcome him with open arms and you move forward and you say, ‘Look, you’re here for one reason and for one reason only: You’re here to help us win a World Series this year.’ And if that guy’s not on board, then he falls by the wayside, but if he comes in our clubhouse and says, ‘I’m on board for this,’ then you rock and roll, man.”

This all may be moot anyway, as the Red Sox, Mets and Wagner’s agent Bean Stringfellow are struggling to come to terms with a deal. Stringfellow wants a guarantee that Boston won’t pick up Wagner’s 2010 club option and won’t offer the reliever salary arbitration. A deal has to be completed by 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday or else Wagner goes back on waivers.

As far as Papelbon’s feelings are concerned, he shouldn’t be worried about what the front office is doing. He has a right to have an opinion, but he doesn’t get paid to scout other team’s players and determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for the Sox. Regardless of if Boston’s pen has been productive this season, if the front office believes Wagner makes the group better, then they’re going to proceed with trying to acquire him – Papelbon (and his opinions) be damned.

Red Sox designate Smoltz for assignment

The AP is reporting that the Red Sox have cut starter John Smoltz and now Boston has 10 days to trade, release or send the 42-year-old veteran to the minors.

“When he woke up today, he said, ‘How can I help the team win?'” Epstein said. “But he’s a realist and understands the results have not been what we were looking for.”

After more than two decades of big wins in Atlanta, Smoltz signed with the Red Sox last January, hoping he could recover from surgery on his right shoulder. After eight starts, the numbers weren’t pretty for a pitcher with Hall of Fame credentials: 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA.

Boston cut him while in a three-way race with the Yankees and Tampa Bay, and with Smoltz still searching for answers after one of the worst outings of his career.

This is where I could write about how Smoltz would be a nice option as a fifth starter for a contender, but it’s hard to make that argument given how bad he’s been over the past month. Plus, he was the fifth starter (essentially) on a contender and he was brutal.

Maybe he could wind up back in the National League and help a team like the Brewers or Giants, but again, he’s been so bad lately that it must just be time for him to hang ‘em up.

Ortiz to speak about positive test result soon

According to an article by the Boston Globe, Red Sox DH David Ortiz (along with MLB Players Association director Michael Weiner) is expected to address the media over the weekend about testing positive for PEDs in 2003.

“We’re going to, like I said, we’re trying to figure things out and move on,’’ Ortiz said. “I’m not going to keep this in my head my whole career. It’s not like I have 10 years left. It’s the kind of situation that you get frustration.

“I’m gonna let you guys know what I’ve got. Period.’’

If Ortiz thinks he can’t tarnish his image more than he already has, he’s wrong. When he eventually talks to the media, he should be honest and forthright about what he took or at the very least, admit that he did take a banned substance and that he was wrong. If he denies anything or tries to act like he was unaware of what he was taking, then the public is going to crucify him.

Fans aren’t going to forget that he tested positive for PEDs, but they would probably be more willing to forgive him if he admitted that he did take something and threw himself at the mercy of the public. He should take a page out of Andy Pettitte and Jason Giami’s book and just be honest about the entire situation because after all, he’s already been caught.

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