By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Red Sox have publicly stated they want to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for the 2020 season, a goal that will most certainly be a challenge for a team that had a $240 million payroll last season.
At this point, we can only project how much money the Red Sox already have committed for 2020. That's because the salaries of all arbitration-eligible players and pre-arbitration players have yet to be determined.
MLB Trade Rumors has released their annual arbitration projections, and the site predicts the Red Sox would have to pay $70.1 million to their 12 arbitration eligible players. This comes on top of the $133 million in guaranteed money the Sox already have committed for next season and does not include players who are not yet eligible for salary arbitration.
Here are the complete projections:
Mookie Betts – $27.7 million
Jackie Bradley Jr. – $11 million
Eduardo Rodriguez – $9.5 million
Andrew Benintendi – $4.9 million
Brandon Workman – $3.4 million
Matt Barnes – $3 million
Chris Owings – $3 million
Sandy Leon – $2.8 million
Heath Hembree – $1.6 million
Steven Wright – $1.5 million
Gorkys Hernandez – $1 million
Marco Hernandez – $700,000
The Betts number will be the big one, as that $27.7 million projection could certainly come in higher than that. Betts made $20 million in 2019 and could be in line for up to $30 million in his final year before free agency.
It doesn't seem likely that the Red Sox will tender offers to all of their arbitration eligible players. It's hard to envision them keeping Chris Owings and Gorkys Hernandez, and it's fair to wonder if Steven Wright and Sandy Leon will be back with the club in 2020.
In the end, it's easy to see the Red Sox paying about $65 million total in arbitration salaries. For a team that's trying to get under the tax, every cent counts.