Over the past couple weeks, we've been commenting on how the Red Sox appear to be throwing in the towel for next season and building for 2011. Many Yankee fans won't care, but I care for this one reason: its no fun when the Red Sox suck. Yankees vs. Red Sox is always exciting, and in the playoffs its the best baseball you'll ever see. 2003 and 2004 prove that. What if our biggest rivals next season are the Rays? Its just not as fun. Now, the Red Sox could still be competitive next season, they're definitely not poised to finish under .500 or anything like that, but it does appear that they're going to be a first half team. Then, they may look to make some competitive splashes in the 2010-2011 free agent market, which should be a ripe one. Could the Red Sox be competitive this coming season? Absolutely. If they re-sign Bay, and either trade for Halladay or sign Lackey, then all of a sudden they look much better. But they don't appear to be moving in that direction, and I beleive I know why.
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Red Sox have $10.5 million in payroll commitments in 2010 for players who don't even play for them (Lugo, Wagner, and Gonzalez). If the Mike Lowell deal goes through, that number jumps to $19.5 million. These are all obligations that end at the end of this coming season.
There's also a few other pieces to consider. David Ortiz is under contract this season at $12.5 million. He has a club option for 2011 at the same rate and with no buyout. I suspect the Red Sox will decline this option and free up the $12.5 million.
Josh Beckett makes $12 million this season, and will be a free agent for 2011. If he re-signs you can expect him to make bank, but otherwise it frees up an additional $12 million. Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek will also be free agents, and they make a combined $10 million this year.
Lastly, Tim Wakefield makes $3.5 million this season, and will earn $1.5 million in 2011.
So what's my point? Well, the Sox have $56 million coming off the books after next season, and though some of those positions will leave glaring holes (Namely Beckett and Victor Martinez), that's a decent amount of money to hold in a great free agent market. Expect next years off season to be much more exciting than this years, because you know the Yankees will be players as well.