It has long been assumed Stephen Drew would end up back with the Boston Red Sox, but due to luxury tax implications that no longer appears to be the case.
If the Red Sox surpass the luxury tax, they would be hit with a tax around $10 million. They are currently only about $250,000 under the tax threshold, meaning signing Drew would likely cost the Red Sox well over $20 million in 2014 with tax and salary included.
When the Red Sox traded away Franklin Morales and brought in Jonathan Herrera as a utility infielder, the desperate need for an extra player that could play the left side of the infield disappeared along with the majority of the leverage for Drew.
With Scott Boras as Drew’s agent, they are looking for a long-term deal with an annual salary of at least the $14 million one-year qualifying offer he received at the start of the offsesason. That dollar figure significantly limits the option the Red Sox have to end up bringing him back. The Red Sox have been long rumored to move a veteran starter to help open up some financial flexibility, but the contracts will prove difficult to make work.
Ryan Dempster is signed through the 2014 season with a salary of $13.25 million. John Lackey‘s 2014 salary is $15.25 million, but he has a vesting option for the 2015 season at the league minimum. Then there is Jake Peavy, whose 2014 base salary is $14.5 million with a 2015 player option worth $15 million. What this means is Lackey likely won’t be going anywhere because of his value in 2015, and there will likely be few suitors for Peavy due to the massive salary in 2015. Dumping Dempster’s salary likely isn’t enough to free up the money to sign Drew. So the team that has long been the favorite for Drew’s services will not have the money to sign him and instead go into the season with a left side of the infield featuring two players under the age of 25 in Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts.