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Thursday, September 2, 2010
Lugo still drawing a big check from Sox

By Gordon Edes

BALTIMORE -- Seeing Julio Lugo here in an Orioles uniform served as a reminder that the Red Sox are still paying the salaries of four players not wearing their uniform: Lugo, Billy Wagner, Boof Bonser, and Alex Gonzalez.

The biggest outlay is the $9 million they’re paying Lugo, or almost twice the $5 million they’re paying their own everyday shortstop, Marco Scutaro. Counting last season, they’ve paid out nearly $13 million for him.

Lugo’s performance as a part-timer in 87 games for the Orioles underscores why the Sox gladly paid to dump him: .256 batting average, a .596 OPS (on-base plus slugging) compared with .710 for Scutaro.

The Sox are paying $1 million of Wagner’s salary with the Atlanta Braves, and how good would the left-handed reliever look in the Sox bullpen? The Sox wanted him back, but Wagner wanted one more crack at closing, and he has been splendid for the Braves: 7-2 record, 1.59 ERA, 31 saves, a huge reason why they’re leading the NL East.

The Sox are also paying $650,000 to Oakland for Boof Bonser, who was recently called up by the Athletics and is pitching out of their bullpen. On Tuesday, he threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a relief appearance against the Yankees, striking out five.

Finally, the Sox paid $500,000 to the Jays for shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who has since been traded to the Braves. Gonzalez has had an excellent season offensively, with 21 home runs and a .780 OPS.

So that’s a total outlay of $11.15 million for the four. That hit is mitigated in part by the fact the Sox received $7.15 from the Mariners (via the Brewers) for Bill Hall, which still leaves them with a net loss of $4 million. That, many Sox fans would agree, is a small price to pay for not having Lugo.