Having successfully re-set their luxury tax rate by cutting payroll spending while Major League Baseball managed to complete its shortened season, the Red Sox accomplished the first step toward having a more robust payroll to help lead the team back into contention.
But with the free-agent market set to open in a little more than a month, the club is still uncertain of how much money with which it has to work.
The fallout from the pandemic -- which led to a 60-game season, played without paying customers -- is still being felt. Some MLB franchises expected revenue losses of nine figures. Worse, with the fear that the coronavirus may worsen over the winter, it's impossible to predict if fans will be allowed for at least the start of the 2021 season, making a projection of future resources exceedingly difficult.
"As it relates to the budget for next year and beyond, the obvious impacts of the pandemic has been felt in every industry,'' said team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, "and baseball is no exception. I think the good news for Red Sox fans is that John Henry and Tom Werner will take a long-term view with respect to the COVID era. Will it have an impact on our budget? Yes, of course it will, because of the devastating impact it's had on our revenues this year. And obviously next year is uncertain.
"That said, I don't know what the outlook for 2021 looks like yet with respect to the virus. As that becomes clear, we'll be able to act in real-time and make decisions. (But) there is an organizational-wide commitment, from the top down, to this goal and mission of building a team that is consistent, that is competitive and gets us back to where we belong, which is atop the American League East.''
The issue, however, may well be one of timing.