Tomase: Sox will end up over transition threshold for no good reason appeared first on NBC Sports Boston
I hope James Paxton was worth it.
The Red Sox only crossed the threshold by $4.5 million this season, meaning they’ll be owed a small bill, but more importantly, they set themselves up for less compensation if they lose a free agent like Xander Bogaerts this winter.
The Associated Press recently released its annual list of MLB payroll and the Red Sox finished fifth at $234.5 million. They were one of six teams to break the $230 million threshold, and the only team not currently in a playoff position.
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The worst of both worlds is pushing over the tax line just to finish in last place. Not only did the Red Sox get zero return on their investment, they also protected themselves this winter and possibly beyond, since penalties for each consecutive year stack on the tax.
The number of players dropped at the deadline could have lowered them below that number and kept them from paying any penalties, but instead of waiting for free agents Nathan Eovaldi or JD Martinez, they kept in the both in an unexpected attempt to make the postseason. Eovaldi has made just two starts since Aug. 2, while Martinez is hitting just .238.
Another move that ended up costing them was giving Paxton $6 million to rehabilitate from Tommy John in hopes of making enough progress that the team could pick up his two-year, $26 million option. Instead, Paxton left his first rehab start with a late strain after fighting two batters, making him highly risky and unlikely to return next year.
Exceeding the threshold for the first time since 2019, the Red Sox will incur a series of penalties. They will be taxed 20 percent on their overage, which works out to about $900,000. If they lose a free agent who declined a qualifying offer — this can only be Bogaerts — they get a fourth-round pick instead of a second-round pick. If they sign such a free agent, they will lose the second and fifth picks in the draft. They will also lose $1 million in international bonus money.
The penalties will increase if the Red Sox exceed next year’s $233 million threshold. In that case, every extra dollar they spend will be at least 30 percent.
When they go over, their approach to the trade deadline is even worse. After trading starting catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros, they seemed well on their way to shedding payroll, incurring no penalties, and entering this remarkable winter rebuild with a clean slate.
Instead, they kept everyone else, showing him nothing. They’re almost certainly going to finish below 0.500 and in last place, which makes writing an extra $900,000 check painful for John Henry.