Arbitration Signings Bring Sox Luxury Tax Dilema Into Focus

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Last week the Red Sox reached agreement with several arbitration-eligible players, most notably Mookie Betts, who agreed to a record $27 M one-year contract.  While not unexpected or surprising, these signings helped bring into clearer focus the Red Sox salary structure for the 2020 season, and with it the

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Other notable players agreeing to contracts, and thus avoiding arbitration hearings, were center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. ($11 M), and relievers Brandon Workman ($3.5 M), Matt Barnes ($3.1 M), and Heath Hembree ($1.6 M).

The Red Sox were not able to come to terms with starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez or left fielder Andrew Benintendi, so each will now go to arbitration hearings to determine their 2020 salaries.  The Red Sox extended Rodriguez a $8.3 M offer, while E-Rod was seeking $8.975 M, a difference of less than $700 K.  Benintendi and the Sox were $750 K apart, with Benintendi submitting a salary of $4.15 M and the Red Sox countering with $3.5 M.
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Assuming E-Rod and Benintendi reach agreement somewhere in the middle of their differences, this puts the Red Sox just over the 2020 Luxury Tax threshold for rostered players with guaranteed salaries.  Unfortunately, that does not include the non-arbitration eligible players, such as Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis, or the remainder of the 40-Man Roster.  Though these players will be closer to the major league minimum of $583,500 than the multi-million dollar salaries of the veterans with more service time, the sheer number of them add another $6 M to $7 M to the bottom line.  Finally, the team is also on the hook for a $5 M buyout to Pablo Sandoval before they can be rid of that disastrous signing.

Taking all of these factors into account, the Red Sox payroll is now sits at nearly $230 M, or $22 M over the luxury tax threshold.  This is without a defined first baseman or second baseman on the roster.

For a full breakdown of the Red Sox payroll, see the chart below.

Player
Salary

David Price
$32,000,000
Chris Sale
$30,000,000
Mookie Betts
$27,000,000
J.D. Martinez
$23,750,000
Xander Bogaerts
$20,000,000
Nathan Eovaldi
$17,000,000
Dustin Pedroia
$13,125,000
Jackie Bradley Jr.
$11,000,000
Eduardo Rodriguez
$8,637,500
*
Martin Perez
$6,000,000
Christian Vázquez
$4,200,000
Andrew Benintendi
$3,775,000
*
Brandon Workman
$3,500,000
Matt Barnes
$3,100,000
Jose Peraza
$3,000,000
Heath Hembree
$1,600,000
Gorkys Hernández
$1,000,000
Hector Velazquez
$1,000,000
Kevin Plawecki
$900,000
Josh Osich
$850,000
Rafael Devers
$700,000
Ryan Brasier
$700,000
**
Tzu-Wei Lin
$700,000
**
Ryan Webber
$700,000
**
Michael Chavis
$650,000
**
Darwinzon Hernandez
$650,000
**
Marcus Walden
$650,000
**
Josn Taylor
$650,000
**
Chris Mazza
$650,000
**
Austin Brice
$650,000
**
Remaining 40 Man Roster
$6,418,500
***
Pablo Sandoval (buyout)
$5,000,000
Total =
$229,556,000
* arbitration eligible - estimated salary
** non-arbitration eligible - estimated salary
*** 11 players at $583,500 each (major league minimum)

Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has made several moves to bring in low cost options with talent who so far have not lived up to expectations.  He is going for volume in the hopes that one or two of these players can realize their potential and become serviceable major leaguers.  At worst, Bloom is adding depth to the farm system and potential trade chips for future deals.  However, the likes of Austin Brice and Trevor Hildenberger are not going to keep the Red Sox faithful warm by their hot stoves this winter. 

If the Red Sox are committed to getting below the threshold, one or more prominent players are likely headed elsewhere.  If you haven’t been excited by Bloom’s moves so far, buckle up, because it is likely to get worse.



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Boston Sports Syndicate: Arbitration Signings Bring Sox Luxury Tax Dilema Into Focus
Arbitration Signings Bring Sox Luxury Tax Dilema Into Focus
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