John Henry doesn’t need to defend the Red Sox’s spending patterns.

It’s just too bad he thinks he does, because his public messaging has passed right through confusing on its way to nonsensical with his latest remarks this weekend.

If there’s one thing Henry is good at, it’s pouring money into a baseball team, as he’s done since he’s been the principal owner of the Red Sox.

They’ve been in the top six in spending all 18 years he’s owned the team. They’ve been first, second or third in 13 of those 18 years. They’ve crossed the competitive balance threshold in 10 of those years.

Every three years, they reset. Just like the Yankees do. Just like the Dodgers do. Just like every big-spending team does.

The CBT was designed to limit outrageous spending year after year. Spend outrageously this year and next year, that’s fine. But then reset in Year 3. MLB doesn’t want another team outspending the field annually, essentially buying World Series titles. Fans around New England should be sympathetic to that, given they had to watch George Steinbrenner’s Yankees do it for a long time.


But if there’s one thing Henry is bad at, it’s public messaging. He’s acknowledged as much in recent years, when he’s tried to better connect with the media and fanbase, making himself more available for comments, particularly via email, when he has time to think through what he wants to say.

Which only adds to the silliness of his comments via email to the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy for a column about cutting payroll that was posted Saturday.

“This focus on CBT resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox,” Henry wrote. “I think every team probably wants to reset (the luxury tax) 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 5 years over and above resetting to which they said, ‘That’s exactly how we’ve been approaching it.'”

Following along? Of course not. How could you? There’s been mixed messaging on this issue since last spring, when the Sox signed Chris Sale to a long-term extension that starts paying him $30 million this year.

Sale’s deal didn’t seem like a terrible one at the time, but it assured the Sox would have challenging payroll issues if they wanted to get under the CBT in 2020. That much was obvious.

Did they always know they wanted to get under the CBT in 2020?


Take the words from Henry’s mouth in September, two weeks after he fired Dave Dombrowski: “This year we need to be under the CBT and that was something we’ve known for more than a year now.”

So they knew when they signed Sale to a megadeal that they wanted to get under the CBT in 2020. They knew they’d have to make spending cuts. They knew it’d be tricky with Mookie Betts’ growing salary. But they did it anyway.

And again, it’s not a bad thing to invest in great players. Quite the contrary. It’s the constant changing of direction that doesn’t make sense.

If the owners wanted to go under the threshold in 2020 that should’ve been a clear directive given long ago. And maybe it was. But how can ownership sign off on a record payroll ($245 million) in 2019 and then blame Dombrowski in a backhanded way after the fact, when Henry said, “There was a difference, I think, in how we thought we should move forward?”

Moving on from Dombrowski was the right thing to do, so most of us looked past the confusing comments and just assumed the Sox were getting cheaper and needed a new general manager.

Now, all of a sudden, Henry says cutting payroll is not the priority. It’s a media-driven narrative, he told Shaughnessy.


So where does that leave the Red Sox, a team that’s made not a single impact move this winter while the Yankees got the Cy Young Award runner-up, Gerrit Cole, the Twins revamped their starting rotation, the Astros remain a powerhouse, despite their quiet offseason, the Rays, Indians and A’s are still strong and the White Sox, Angels, Blue Jays and Rangers added All-Star talent to push them closer to contention?

The Sox added some nondescript pieces like Martin Perez, Jose Peraza, Kevin Plawecki, among other players most fans haven’t heard of, and now Henry says they might stay above the CBT and roll into 2020 and compete, spending more than $208 million, paying extra penalties (financial and strategic) while finding themselves with the same limitations again next offseason.

All for the chance of getting into a one-game playoff as a wild-card team, because they’re not winning the division against a Yankees team that was 19 games better last year, when half the stars were hurt and Cole was still pitching for the Astros.

If it seems like a lot to take in, that’s because the Sox look totally directionless.

Pitchers and catchers report four weeks from Wednesday.

Comments are not available on this story.