The Boston Red Sox made a massive decision on Tuesday night. They elected to trade Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to cut their 2020 payroll.
Betts was slated to be a free agent next offseason and it seemed possible that he could leave the Red Sox, as the two were rumored to be far apart in contract negotiations. They managed to get two good prospects in return for Betts and Price, Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol, but fans will still likely be unhappy with the return given that Betts is, undoubtedly, one of baseball's top-five players.
That said, the Red Sox did accomplish their goal of getting under the luxury tax. In fact, they cut $43 million from their payroll by trading the $27 million owed to Betts and half of the $32 million owed to Price in 2020.
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As a result, the Red Sox now have a payroll number of $178 million and projected tax allocations of about $192 million, according to Spotrac.com. That will drop them $16 million below the $208 million tax line.
And now, the Red Sox have just three players set to make $20+ million in 2020. They are as follows:
- P Chris Sale ($30 million)
- DH J.D. Martinez ($23.75 million)
- SS Xander Bogaerts ($20 million)
Other players making eight-figures in 2020 include Nathan Eovaldi ($17 million), Dustin Pedroia ($13.1 million), and Jackie Bradley Jr. ($11 million).
So, all told, it looks like the Red Sox have fixed their payroll issues. They won't have to pay luxury tax following the 2020 season and they still have a little wiggle room to add some low-cost free agents.
But will the Red Sox be able to stay competitive in 2020? They gave up their best overall player and their second-best starting pitcher. Their starting rotation looks particularly weak and will be especially dependent on Sale, who struggled amid shoulder and elbow injuries last season. So, they may be in for a rocky 2020 campaign.
Only time will tell if the Red Sox made the right move here. But for now, they accomplished what appears to be their biggest goal. They won't likely pay luxury tax after the 2020 season.