LAS VEGAS (AP) — The champion Boston Red Sox aren’t looking to cut the biggest payroll in the big leagues.
After exceeding all three luxury tax thresholds paid off in a World Series title, the Red Sox anticipate going over the levels again next year even though they’re increasing.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski dismissed reports he is trying to trade some high-priced players, such as pitcher Rick Porcello.
“I’ve heard those tweets,” he said Tuesday at the winter meetings. “We’re not looking to move anybody. We’re not driven to move anybody.”
Boston had the highest payroll for the first time in the free agent era. The Red Sox luxury tax payroll as of Aug. 31 was nearly $239 million, and Dombrowski said he thinks the Red Sox will be over $246 million next season.
The Red Sox re-signed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi last week to a $68 million, four-year contract.
Last season, Boston far exceeded the $197 million luxury tax threshold, the $217 million level for the first surcharge and the $237 million where a second surcharge starts.
That put the Red Sox on track for a luxury tax of more than $11 million and an additional penalty in next June’s amateur draft. Boston’s first pick, currently 33rd, will be dropped down 10 slots.
Next year’s tax starts at $206 million, and Boston’s initial rate will rise from 20 percent to 30 percent on its overage. The surtax on the first $20 million over goes up from 32 percent to 42 percent, and the surtax on the amount over that increases from 62.5 percent to 75 percent.
Dombrowski said his preference would be to drop below the highest surtax but “it’s not a mandate.”
Payroll-paring is not the goal.
“We’re not driven by that fact, that approach,” he said. “I would say you always listen to anything, You can always get better.”
Still, the Red Sox must prepare for future years. Ace Chris Sale and Porcello are eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.
“I know long-term we’re not going to be able to sign all of our players,” Dombrowski said. “That brings about conversations and people calling you about various things. But I would say I guarantee you our primary focus is to try to win a world championship in 2019, to try to repeat.”
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