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#pounditTuesday, December 7, 2021

Red Sox planning to cut payroll ahead of 2020

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The Boston Red Sox are facing a luxury tax bill in 2020, and they’re eager to avoid it.

Owner John Henry revealed Friday that the team intends to get below the $208 million luxury tax threshold in 2020. Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Red Sox opened the season with a payroll just north of $236 million, meaning the team will have to drop about $28 million in salary.

Pending free agents Rick Porcello, Mitch Moreland, and Steve Pearce make roughly $34 million combined, so letting them walk would do it in theory. They could also recoup some savings if outfielder J.D. Martinez elects to opt out of his deal. However, it’s not that simple. Key players are going to be looking for arbitration raises, including outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Most prominently, however, is outfielder Mookie Betts, who already made $20 million in 2019 and will be expecting more as he enters the final year of team control. Plus, this assumes that the Red Sox would make no additions, which would be a huge risk, particularly if someone like Martinez tests the market.

This is a big reason why the Red Sox are rumored to be open to listening to trade offers for Betts after the season. They’re going to have to make some big decisions to reach their target payroll.


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