Red Sox: Three ways to dip under luxury tax while still contending
By Sean Penney
There are ways that the Boston Red Sox can get under the luxury tax without giving up their high-priced stars so that they can still contend for a title.
The Boston Red Sox have a clear goal of trimming the payroll this offseason in order to avoid going over the luxury tax for a third consecutive season. That doesn’t mean they can’t put together a contender in 2020.
The luxury tax threshold is set at $208 million for next season, which poses a problem for the Red Sox since they are already well over that figure.
Boston has approximately $139 million in committed salaries for next season, per Spotrac. This accounts for only seven players, including Dustin Pedroia, who may never see the field again. Pablo Sandoval‘s $5 million buy out also counts toward the tax.
The rest of the roster has yet to have their contracts finalized but we have a fairly good idea of what they will cost. The 12 arbitration-eligible players are projected to earn a combined $70 million. That leaves seven pre-arbitration players to fill out the remainder of the 25-man roster, tacking on approximately $4 million. We also need to account for about $15 million in benefits and other expenses that count toward the tax.
That puts the Red Sox payroll in the neighborhood of $228 million without making any offseason additions to improve the roster. They need to cut at least $20 million, preferably more so that they can afford a back of the rotation starter or bullpen arm.
The good news is that there are ways the Red Sox can get under the tax without giving away any of the high-priced stars they will need in order to contend next season. Following each of these three steps would be enough to provide Boston with the savings they need.