Adrian Gonzalez passed his physical (as expected) on Saturday, which means the Red Sox have until 2 p.m. EST on Sunday to complete deal with an agreement on a contract extension. The first baseman reportedly wants "Ryan Howard money," referring to the five-year, $125 million contract the Phillies' 1B signed this year.
While it's not a necessity that a new deal is signed to complete the trade from San Diego, the Red Sox at least are going to want strong indications that the two sides are on the same page and headed in the same direction. After all, Boston is giving up three of its top-six prospects.
But with Boston supposedly offering six years and Gonzalez wanting eight years, it's possible a new deal is not reached. So what if that happens? SI's Jon Heyman tweeted Saturday night "[The Red Sox] may be willing to do [a Gonzalez] deal without extension and may actually prefer to just talk parameters now, then watch him in spring." Gonzalez is still in a sling after shoulder surgery and is not expected to be able to swing a bat until March, so in that sense kicking the tires a bit before a new contract makes sense. However, dealing Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes for a player you're not already 100 percent certain makes little sense.
Delaying a new contract does make sense financially, thought, writes WEEI's Alex Speier. Gonzalez is set to make $6.2 million in 2011, but if an extension is signed before the start of the season, suddenly he becomes much more expensive when the Red Sox calculate their competitive balance tax and 2011 payroll.
The implications would be significant. The Sox have always viewed their CBT payroll as being more significant than their actual payroll, and with good reason: If they can avoid doing so, they don't want to pay the luxury tax. [...] If Gonzalez is playing under the terms of his current contract, it would go a long way towards helping the team avoid paying the tax in 2011. Superstar production for a $6.2 million CBT can help transform a payroll.
So what does that have to do with signing the extension after the season starts? If the extension is signed after Opening Day rather than before it, then it would not be factored into the calculation of Gonzalez' AAV for the 2011 season. So, he would have a $6.2 million CBT hit in 2011, and then count for $22 million (or whatever the average salary is of his long-term deal) against the luxury tax threshold during the life of the extension. Under that scenario, the Sox could likely afford to hand out a monster contract to Werth or Crawford while still limbo-ing under the luxury tax threshold for next year.