Red Sox 2020 payroll update following arbitration signings

An updated look at the Boston Red Sox 2020 payroll situation that factors in the arbitration-eligible players who agreed to deals.

We have a bit more clarity on the payroll situation heading into next season after the Boston Red Sox came to terms with five of their seven arbitration-eligible players. Scratch the projections of what we expected them to make and lock in the salaries they agreed to.

Prior to Friday’s deadline to exchange figures with arbitration-eligible players, the only certainty we had was with the players who were already on guaranteed contracts:

David Price ($31 million), Chris Sale ($25.60 million), J.D. Martinez ($23.75 million), Xander Bogaerts ($20 million), Nathan Eovaldi ($16.88 million); Dustin Pedroia ($13.3 million), Christian Vazquez ($4.52 million), Jose Peraza ($3 million), Martin Perez ($6.5 million), and Kevin Plawecki ($900,000).

Left-handed reliever Josh Osich is on a split contract with $850,000 on the major league component of the deal.

Those players combine to make $146.3 million.

Now we can add the five players who avoided arbitration by agreeing to one-year deals, headlined by a record-setting salary for Mookie Betts.

Betts ($27 million), Jackie Bradley Jr. ($11 million), Brandon Workman ($3.5 million), Matt Barnes ($3.1 million), and Heath Hembree ($1.6125 million).

Those players add an additional $46.2125 to the payroll. The Red Sox currently have 22 pre-arbitration players on their 40-man roster who will combine for approximately $7 million, depending on how much time they spend in the majors. We also can’t forget about the approximately $15 million for medical costs, health benefits, spring training allowances, moving and traveling expenses.

That brings the payroll up to around $214.5 million.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Eduardo Rodriguez and Andrew Benintendi were unable to come to terms before Friday’s deadline so their salaries will be settled in an arbitration hearing. The outcome of their hearings will determine where the payroll lands entering the season.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Rodriguez filed at $8.975 million and the Red Sox offered $8.3 million. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Benintendi filed at $4.15 million while the Red Sox countered with $3.4 million.

If the arbitration panel rules in favor of the players, Boston’s payroll will rise to $227.6 million. If the club wins both cases, the payroll comes in at around $226.2 million. That difference of nearly $1.5 million could be significant for a Red Sox team trying to dig their way out of luxury tax territory. The savings could fall somewhere in the middle if they split the decision in these two cases.

MLB Trade Rumors projected E-Rod for $9.5 million and Benny for $4.9 million. Regardless of how the panel rules, Boston will pay less than expected for those two players. That’s the case for their arbitration players in general. The seven eligible players were projected to earn a combined $61.1 million but the Red Sox will end up paying about $59.3 million – possibly less if they win the arbitration cases.

The Red Sox still have their work cut out for them to reach their goal of dipping below the tax line but they are closer than most expected prior to the arbitration news. In a best case scenario, they are approximately $18 million over the $208 million threshold. That could mean that trading Eovaldi and a modestly priced reliever like Hembree could get them to that goal. That’s a more appealing route than salary dumping Price, which seemed to be a necessity when the payroll appeared to be over the tax by north of $20 million.

Next: Bogaerts, Devers rising up position rankings

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We have a long way to go before Opening Day and the tax isn’t calculated until after the season anyway but it’s encouraging to see that the Red Sox have slightly more breathing room than expected.