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.