Red Sox Set To Have MLB’s Highest Payroll For First Time In Nearly 30 Years

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Red Sox outfielder J.D. Martinez

Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

The Boston Red Sox have not been shopping in the bargain aisle lately. Here’s proof:

The Red Sox are projected to open the season with the highest payroll in Major League Baseball at approximately $223 million, according to The Associated Press. That ends the Los Angeles Dodgers’ four-year streak with baseball’s highest payroll and marks the first time since at least 1990 — the first year salary figures were readily available to the AP — that Boston is the league’s highest spender.

Interestingly enough, the notoriously deep-pocketed New York Yankees are projected to have MLB’s seventh-highest payroll at “only” $167 million, their lowest ranking since 1992 and lowest payroll since 2003.

The San Francisco Giants (second, projected at $203 million) and Chicago Cubs (third, $183 million) are Boston’s closest competitors, while the Dodgers, Washington Nationals ($180 million each) and Los Angeles Angels ($170 million) also are ahead of New York.

Why the sudden leap in the Red Sox’s payroll? Two words: J.D. Martinez. The 30-year-old slugger signed a five-year, $110 million contract with Boston in free agency and is slated to make about $23.75 million in 2018, trailing only left-hander David Price ($30 million) for the highest salary on the team this year.

Of course, not all of the Red Sox’s investments will be on the field this season. Boston owes San Francisco Giants veteran Pablo Sandoval $18.05 million after buying out the remainder of his hefty contract, while outfielder Rusney Castillo also is on the books for $11.77 million 2018 despite not playing a major-league game last season.

Still, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has committed considerable resources to legitimate talent: Boston took on the salaries of Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel after acquiring them via trade and will pay Mookie Betts $10.5 million this season after an arbitration settlement.

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