About that whole Red Sox cutting payroll thing?
Sox principal owner John Henry told the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy that the team is focused more on being competitive rather than getting under baseball's luxury tax - a.k.a. competitive balance tax - threshold of $208 million.
"But this focus on CBT [competitive balance tax] resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox," Henry, who also owns the Globe, wrote to Shaughnessy in an email. "I think every team probably wants to reset at least once every three years — that’s sort of been the history — but just this week...I reminded baseball ops that we are focused on competitiveness over the next 5 years over and above resetting to which they said, ‘That’s exactly how we’ve been approaching it.’
This comes a few months after Henry said this at Sox ownership's end-of-the-season press conference:
"This year we need to be under the CBT and that was something we've known for more than a year now. If you don't reset, there are penalties, so we've known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done."
The Sox had MLB's highest payroll last season of $228 million and consequently had to pay a $13.4 million luxury tax, well above what it cost the only other two teams that had to pay - the Cubs at $7.6M and Yankees at $6.7M. The Sox have paid more than $50M in luxury tax since the system began in 2003.
Chaim Bloom was hired away from the Tampa Bay Rays, who had MLB's lowest payroll at $67M, to become Red Sox chief baseball officer with the thought that he'd be directed to slash payroll. That fueled rumors of trades involving big-money stars Mookie Betts and David Price.
Henry downplayed any salary-cutting directive and told Shaughnessy in the email that his bringing up the CBT at the end-of-the-season press conference was not some inadvertent revelation.
“You seem to think Chaim was brought in to reduce payroll. That has simply not been the way FSG [Fenway Sports Group, Henry's parent company of the Red Sox and English Premier League soccer's Liverpool FC] operates here or across the pond," Henry wrote. "We try to act responsibly so as to be consistently competitive. Your main point seems to be that I accidentally disclosed a secret plan but unlike you, I am honest about Sox issues. The question was asked and I answered it.’’
Henry's email comes within days of the Red Sox agreeing to a one-year, $27M contract with Betts on Friday to avoid arbitration. It's a record deal for an arbitration-eligible player. Betts, expected to command a multi-year deal worth $300M or more when he becomes a free agent after this season, is the third-highest paid player on the team. Pitchers Price ($32M and Chris Sale ($30M) top the payroll.