Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Thursday he expects the team's payroll to be among the highest in baseball when all is said and done this offseason despite the fact that he has just $45 million in guaranteed salary on the books so far for 2013.
Getting that payroll into the top 3 or so in baseball (where the Red Sox usually rank) would mean the team would probably need to spend more than $100 million this winter between signing arbitration-eligible players (think Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Bailey) and filling open roster spots through either free agency or trades.
"It's harder to predict this offseason than it has been in previous offseason because in previous offseasons we've been closer to that, closer to where we'll end up," Cherington said in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "Especially last offseason, when we were making more cosmetic changes.
"I know that we'll have a very strong payroll, a large payroll. I know that we're going to add to it this winter. I'm confident in saying that we'll be amongst the larger payrolls in the game. Exactly where it ends up, exactly what rank we are, I don't know that yet. I think it just depends on what we do. We're not going to shoot for an arbitrary payroll number just to say that we're going to get to this. We just have to look at each opportunity as it comes and figure out whether it's the right thing for the Red Sox."
Notably, the Red Sox are in the market for corner outfielders, a first baseman and pitchers to fill out the starting rotation and bullpen. Cherington wouldn't bite when asked if any addition he made would be of the "big splash" variety.
"I think we're going to make moves that are going to improve the team," said Cherington, who reiterated his theme of the team staying disciplined in its spending and focusing on the long term instead of solely on success in 2013. "It's hard to say whether they're going to be defined as splashy moves or not. You never know. We're going to take each opportunity and look at it case by case.
"There may be opportunities that are bigger in scale that would fit that definition that we feel are the right moves but we don't know that yet. What I do know is that we're going to continue to act as a team. We're committed to building the best team we can for 2013 but doing it in a way that doesn't get in the way of what we think is going to be a longer period of success after that."
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