The White Sox don’t want to lose bargaining power and therefore aren’t likely to ever acknowledge their exact payroll for 2014. But per their owner, the White Sox still have some money to spend.
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told WSCR-AM 670 on Saturday that general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams haven’t yet reached the magic number he has allotted for payroll next season. In fact, Reinsdorf suggests they have plenty to go.
“They’re well below the budgeted number that we can afford to spend this year,” Reinsdorf said. “If they have a player that is going to increase the payroll as long as it fits within the budget they can do it.”
Last week Hahn estimated the White Sox current payroll is roughly around $80 million with projected raises included for both arbitration-eligible and minimum-salaried players. In 2013, the White Sox fielded a $112 million Opening Day payroll, though they trimmed more than $10 million in the trades of Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain.
The White Sox do have an $8 million increase in spending planned for next season’s signing bonuses for amateur and international signees. With the third overall pick in next June’s amateur draft, the White Sox are expected to have signing bonus pools in the $14-15 million range. This season the White Sox spent around $7 million.
Were they simply to subtract the additional $8 million for signing bonuses from the payroll, the White Sox conceivably could have $104 million to start next season. Hahn agreed with Reinsdorf’s assessment last week at the GM meetings in Orlando.
“Payroll is probably not going to be as high as it was last year but there’s still room for us to operate,” Hahn said.
After Hahn traded his four veterans last July and August it was widely assumed the White Sox were headed for a full-blown rebuilding plan. But at the time Hahn stressed that one key for the club was the financial flexibility gained in the deals, in particular the ones involving Peavy and Rios, which freed up $27 million in salary this season alone.
The White Sox also acquired Avisail Garcia in the Peavy deal and have since signed Jose Abreu. Reinsdorf believes those moves signal the organization’s thirst to get back on track.
“(It) certainly is a statement that we’re not ripping it apart and trying to get bad before we get good,” Reinsdorf said. “That’s certainly a statement that we want to immediately be better than we were last year. On the other hand, better than last year still isn’t saying much. We’re certainly trying to get better. We’re not striping it down. I think that’s the message that we sent. We’re spending a lot of money on (Abreu). He’s 26, 27. He should be able to contribute for a long time, but we expect him to contribute in 2014.”