Left-handed pitchers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery entered the offseason as two of baseball's premier free agents in this class. In the early stages of the offseason, top Red Sox brass had hinted at making some big splashes following the club's three last place divisional finishes in the previous four seasons.
With high expectations in mind, fans anticipated the team to be competitive in bidding for the top of the line talent. Instead, the Red Sox have become known as the "interest kings", being linked to a litany of free agents but seemingly never forking up the money to close the deal.
Both Snell and Montgomery remain unsigned, and both are represented by agent Scott Boras, a notorious eleventh hour operator. Even with their services still available, Red Sox fans can add the pair to Boston's ever-growing "interest kings" roster.
On Saturday morning, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that "every indication remains that the Sox won't be pursuing long-term deals" with the southpaws. On Sunday morning, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic further pushed this narrative, "going in-depth on how unlikely Boston is to shell out cash for Montgomery, specifically." Speier and Rosenthal's reporting aren't exactly groundbreaking revelations, as they are merely confirming what any sane Boston fan has already concluded from observing this offseason.
At last weekend's Red Sox Winter Weekend, president and CEO Sam Kennedy stated the he expects the Red Sox' payroll to be lower in 2024 than it was in 2023. The Red Sox payroll for 2023 came out to approximately $225 million, while their current 2024 payroll projects at $180 million.
Boston's insistence on capping spending is frustrating given that the team is still $61 million short of the first competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold for 2024. The competitive balance tax for 2024 is set at $237 million.
If the Red Sox exceed that mark in payroll, then they would have to pay a "luxury tax" in additional to their payroll amount. In 2024 the highest-paid starting pitcher is Max Scherzer, while earn a shade over $43.3 million.
So even if the Red Sox made Snell or Montgomery the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, they could still have $17 million of space prior to surpassing the first CBT threshold. Mathematically, the Red Sox could easily afford one of the two without incurring any non-payroll financial hits. Ownership is cheaping out, make no mistake about it.
Earlier this offseason, Montgomery had given some hope to Boston fans as he moved to the city while his wife completed a dermatology residency at an area hospital. Montgomery was also working through his offseason program at nearby Boston College. The South Carolina native greatly enhanced his free agency stock during the Texas Rangers' title run, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.90 ERA and 17 strikeouts across six postseason appearances.
Meanwhile, Snell collected his second Cy Young Award in 2023, becoming only the seventh pitcher in MLB history to win the award in both the American League and National League (Snell won the AL Cy Young with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018). Snell has reportedly only received one offer in free agency: a five-year, $150 million deal from the New York Yankees.
With their current roster, Boston's current rotation projects as Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Lucas Giolito, Nick Pivetta, and Garrett Whitlock. Right-hander Tanner Houck could feature in either a starting or bullpen role.
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