Both plans would lead to a heavier tax burden in 2013 for someone like Napoli, who signed a three-year deal Monday with the Sox and will make an average of $13 million per season. The prospect of higher taxes was a factor in Napoli’s negotiations with the team, said his agent, Grieper.
“Absolutely, we thought about it and talked about it with the team,” Grieper said. “We always take taxes into consideration when it comes to negotiating contracts. Any good agent is doing the same.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington downplayed the influence of the fiscal cliff on contract talks but acknowledged it has been part of talks.
“I have heard some of that,” Cherington said at baseball’s winter meetings in Nashville. “I don’t think it has affected anything we’ve done. But that has come up in conversation, the uncertainty around that.”
Another high-profile baseball player, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, signed a six-year, $100 million contract extension with his club last week and took a pay cut in 2013 in order to receive a $1 million bonus by Dec. 15.
Longoria’s agent, Paul Cohen, said the deal was not a response to the fiscal cliff, specifically, but said he has long believed that tax rates are likely to rise in the future and has tried to take advantage of current, low rates.
Packard, the tax adviser, is preparing his clients for a scenario in which the GOP gets its way, advising them to make deductible expenditures — real estate taxes, charitable contributions, agent fees — before the new year.
Whatever the outcome of the deficit negotiations, “there’s a strong possibility that very high earners — and baseball players certainly fall into that category — will be paying higher taxes,” said Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution who was the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office.
“If you make as much money as Mr. Napoli does,” she said, “it shouldn’t bother you very much.”
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Callum Borchers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.