BOSTON (CBS) — If the Red Sox want to make a significant improvement to their offense in the 2017 offseason, they will need to cross the $197 million luxury tax threshold. After a season marked by a perceived avoidance to go over the limit, principal owner John Henry has confirmed that there will be no such restrictions this winter.
Speaking to reporters on Monday after the introduction of Alex Cora as manager, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski gave a simple “No” when asked if the Red Sox wanted their 2018 payroll to stay under the $197 million threshold for the luxury, or “competitive balance” tax. Henry echoed his sentiments when asked later on, reiterating that Dombrowski “said he could go over,” via the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.
The 2017 free-agent class boasts two particularly big names on the offensive side: first baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielder J.D. Martinez. Either player would fulfill the Red Sox’ needs for offense and/or veteran leadership. The rumors of trading for Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton will also persist, but of course that is significantly less likely.
Still, the team’s willingness to pay the luxury tax ostensibly ensures that they will hotly pursue at least one big-name bat, be it in free agency or via trade. There’s also a good chance that they will be in the market for one of the several star position players on track to hit free agency after the 2018 season, an impressive list that includes Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, and Andrew McCutchen.
Henry and the Red Sox front office drew criticism for what was viewed as a reluctance to go over the luxury tax during the 2017 season, which ostensibly contributed to their lack of big-money moves at the trade deadline. But the owner has made it clear that fans should now expect to see some spending.