Boston Red Sox owner John Henry has denied his team is focused on reducing payroll below the luxury-tax threshold this winter in order to reset penalties, according to Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe.
Henry - who owns both the Red Sox and the Globe - made the remarks in an email exchange with Shaughnessy published Saturday. Shaughnessy contacted Henry, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, and CEO Sam Kennedy to ask whether the team had planned to publicly disclose the mandate to cut payroll before Henry did so at a September news conference.
"You might actually be right for once in that I don't plan what I'm going to say before answering media questions in a live media event," Henry wrote to Shaughnessy. "But this focus on (the competitive balance threshold) resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox.
"I think every team probably wants to reset at least once every three years - that's sort of been the history - but just this week ... I reminded baseball ops that we are focused on competitiveness over the next five years over and above resetting, to which they said, 'That's exactly how we've been approaching it.'"
The Red Sox were one of three teams to pay penalties for exceeding the luxury-tax threshold in 2019, earning a $13.4-million tax bill after running a league-high $229-million payroll last year.
In September, Henry told reporters, "We need to be under the CBT (in 2020) and that was something we've known for more than a year now."
Boston fired Dave Dombrowski, who built the 2018 World Series-winning team on the backs of multiple massive contracts, shortly before Henry's payroll remarks. The Red Sox hired Chaim Bloom as chief baseball officer from the notoriously cost-conscious Tampa Bay Rays early in the offseason.
"You seem to think Chaim was brought in to reduce payroll. That has simply not been the way (Fenway Sports Group) operates here or across the pond," Henry added. "We try to act responsibly so as to be consistently competitive. Your main point seems to be that I accidentally disclosed a secret plan but unlike you, I am honest about Sox issues. The question was asked and I answered it."
Werner also responded to Shaughnessy, stating: "Our plan has been the same since 2002, namely to be competitive year in and year out. That is the charge for Chaim."
Boston's tax issues have sparked rumors that the Red Sox are looking to move multiple high-priced pieces this winter. Star outfielder Mookie Betts has featured prominently in rumors given he's one year from free agency and has yet to engage in meaningful discussions with the team regarding a long-term deal.
Betts and the Red Sox avoided arbitration Friday, agreeing to a reported record $27-million contract for 2020.