Red Sox

Red Sox get a $13.4 million luxury tax bill on MLB's highest payroll

Red Sox get a $13.4 million luxury tax bill on MLB's highest payroll

Why do the Red Sox seem so adamant about getting under $208 million in payroll for next season?

It's got everything to do with the luxury-tax bill sent to them by Major League Baseball for their MLB-leading payroll of $228 million for 2019. That bill was $13.4 million, according to figures obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press.

The Chicago Cubs ($7.6 million) and New York Yankees ($6.7 million) were the only other teams that will have to pay the luxury tax, according to the AP.  Of the three, only the Yankees made the playoffs in 2019. 

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This bill makes it $50 million in luxury taxes paid by the Red Sox since the system was put in place in 2003. The Yankees have paid a whopping $348 million in luxury taxes and appear on their way again in 2020 after giving right-hander Gerrit Cole a record nine-year, $324 million contract. 

The Red Sox are hoping that their 2019 luxury tax bill is their last one for a while. They have made it a stated goal of getting under the $208 million payroll threshold where the tax kicks in. 

"This year we need to be under the CBT [competitive balance tax] and that was something we've known for more than a year now," Red Sox owner John Henry said back in October. "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."

New Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, with a history of success with small-payroll Tampa Bay Rays (who had MLB's lowest payroll at $67 million), was brought in and charged with getting the Sox payroll reduced. Rumors of Boston shedding big-money players such as Mookie Betts and David Price in trades have swirled all offseason.

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

SPRINGFIELD -- For five hours on Saturday morning at Winter Weekend, Red Sox players and coaches delivered basically the same message in regards to the 2018 cheating scandal: We're not at liberty to say anything until the league finishes its investigation.

And then J.D. Martinez stepped in front of the cameras.

The slugging DH, who earlier this offseason chose to remain in Boston rather than exercise an opt-out in his contract, minced no words when asked if the Red Sox did anything wrong during their championship 2018 season.

"You know, it sucks, to be honest with you," he said of the investigation. "It does suck. But you know what? I know I'm excited for the investigation to be over with just so that they can see that there was nothing going on here."

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So he believes the team is innocent of the charges that it used the replay room to steal opposing signs in real time?

"I believe that, yes," Martinez said.

And what gives Martinez this confidence, despite a report to the contrary in The Athletic claiming that the Red Sox stole signs?

"Because I was in there," he said. "I saw what was. . . . Straight up, everyone seems to forget that in 2017 and '16 this team was a really good team. This team won 93 games those two years and then we just got better."

Martinez spoke without hesitation, and also saluted departed manager Alex Cora, while offering some insight into why Cora decided to leave the team.

"Kind of heartbroken about it," he said. "I talked to him before and I understood his side of it. He didn't want to be a distraction going into the season. I know it was wearing on him and his family, so I obviously feel for him and I wish him the best. But I know he played a big, big role for our team and he was one of my favorites, if not my favorite manager that I've had. It's going to be tough."

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell would check a lot of the boxes the Red Sox would be looking for in their managerial search. The popular former Red Sox third baseman is a Cuban-American who speaks Spanish and English and is media-savvy as an analyst for the MLB Network. 

Still, there's one condition he has that will probably take Lowell out of the running. 

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The 2007 World Series MVP and 2018 inductee into the team's Hall of Fame has no managerial experience, but told WEEI's Rob Bradford in a text message, "I would love to if I knew it was just for a year and Cora was guaranteed to come back."

Alex Cora, a Red Sox teammate of Lowell's for three seasons (2006-08), was let go by on Tuesday after he was named as the central figure in Major League Baseball's investigation of sign-stealing by the Houston Astros when Cora was their bench coach in 2017. Cora is also alleged to have brought a similar system to Boston when he became manager before the 2018 season. MLB is continuing to investigate the allegations against the Red Sox and it will likely result in a suspension of one season or longer for Cora.

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a season by MLB and subsequently fired by Houston.

With Cora facing perhaps a longer punishment, or perhaps even a lifetime ban from baseball -- and from Red Sox ownership's telling silence when asked if Cora would ever manage in the majors again -- Lowell's plan of temporarily filling in until Cora's return isn't likely to fly.