The Boston Red Sox expects to have one of baseball's highest payrolls in 2013, general manager Ben Cherington told Boston radio station WEEI on Thursday.
The team has just $45 million in guaranteed salary committed to next season, but, and would plan to invest in their arbitration-eligible players such as Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Bailey, spend on free agents or take on salary through trades.
"It's harder to predict this offseason than it has been in previous offseason because in previous offseasons ,we've been closer to that, closer to where we'll end up," Cherington told WEEI. "Especially last offseason, when we were making more cosmetic changes.
"I know that we'll have a very strong payroll, a large payroll. I know that we're going to add to it this winter. I'm confident in saying that we'll be amongst the larger payrolls in the game. Exactly where it ends up, exactly what rank we are, I don't know that yet. I think it just depends on what we do. We're not going to shoot for an arbitrary payroll number just to say that we're going to get to this. We just have to look at each opportunity as it comes and figure out whether it's the right thing for the Red Sox."
The Red Sox are seeking corner outfielders, a first baseman and pitchers for the starting rotation and bullpen. He said that he had spoken to the Miami Marlins before they dealt most of their expensive players to the Toronto Blue Jays.
He added that he likely wasn't willing to take on that much in one swoop.
"The scope of that deal was bigger than we were expecting," Cherington told WEEI. "As far as we're concerned, we have standards and we have a limit to what we'll do in a trade and free agency and we're going to try to stick to that and have faith in our process and that over time the best way to build a team is through getting the right veterans here, being disciplined but getting the right veterans here through free agency or trade and continuing to develop from within."
Cherington expects that the Red Sox will be a much-improved squad from the one that won 69 games last season.
"I think we'll be looking at a Red Sox team that's going to be a contender (in 2013)," he said. "I'm not ready to put a win total on it. ... I know we're going to be good in the long run and I know we're building something that's going to be good. Exactly what that turns into in 2013 time will tell. I know we're going to be better, I know we're going to be improved. And I think we're going to have a team that fans are going to enjoy watching a lot more and that has a chance to contend."