Fuzzy Math

Having perused the web-based journos, I have come to the conclusion that none of them know how to use a calculator. This, regarding the Randy Johnson-to-the-Sox rumors floating around. I refer to the relatively common proclamation that the acquisition of the Unit would mean Pedro is unaffordable next year. I simply cannot understand how people come to this conclusion.

First, let’s assume that the Sox make an effort to re-sign Pedro, and that he doesn’t walk to another team with deep pockets. He may move on regardless of what the Sox offer, but let’s just look at it mathematically. Let’s assume that Pedro gets somewhere between 12M (Schilling’s per annum) and 16.000001M (one dollar more than the Unit). The “Big Three” would be earning 44M between the three of them. Assuming the Sox move Nomar to get Johnson, that’s between 12M (what the Sox offered) and 16M (what Nomar apparently wants) off the books. Right there we have a push in salaries. It gets a bit more complicated, however. The Red Sox would likely try to move Lowe (in his walk year), who is making 6.5M this year and is a free agent. Additionally, they may try to move Kim in a deal now (he’s making 3.5M now and on the hook for similar next year). Let’s say the Sox have to pick up some (50%?) of Kim’s deal to make him tradeable. Next, the Sox have to decide whether to re-sign Varitek, who may be staring at about 8M per year. Lastly, there’s the possibility that the Red Sox would try to make some sort of deal for a more potent middle infielder to fill in some of Nomar’s production for the rest of the year, so there’s a bit of salary there to consider (though Rich Aurilia can be had for the minimum).

So, to summarize, in a nearly worst-case scenario with regards to pro-rated potential salaries (I admit I am not taking into account the structure of potential deals for Nomar et al, which would obviously change things):

Johnson = +16M 2005
Nomar = -13.5M 2005
Varitek = +1M 2005 (over 2004 salary)
Pedro = +15M 2005
Lowe = -6.5M 2005
Kim = -3.5M 2005

Total: +8.5M 2005

Now, imagine the Sox feel Kelly Shoppach (if he’s still here following a deal) is ready, they let Varitek walk and pay the rookie minimum. There goes most of the 8.5M. Or, suppose they don’t have to eat any of Kim’s salary, however unlikely. Down to 5M. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that acquiring Johnson would prevent the Sox from retaining Pedro. It may put a fly in the ointment, make Pedro’s price higher, make it harder for him to accept not being the “ace” of the staff, but looking at the finances in layperson’s terms there is no reason to believe what many people are saying.

And perhaps the biggest reason not to assume a speculative Unit’s arrival would spell Pedro’s Beantown demise is that none of us really have any clue what the Red Sox have in mind financially, what their payroll limit is, or where their profit numbers hit a sweet spot.