Red Sox could lose Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez this offseason in order to get under luxury tax, report says

On Sunday, the Boston Red Sox fired president Dave Dombrowski less than one year removed from winning the World Series title. Dombrowski's team had disappointed this season, but was on pace for 86 wins. Previously the Red Sox had won at least 93 games in his three full years on the job. Nevertheless, the Red Sox decided it was the right time to make a change at the top.

Whether or not the Red Sox end up in a better position than they were under Dombrowski is to be determined. This much is certain: Dombrowski's tenure will continue to impact Boston's long-term plans -- perhaps more than previously imagined. According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox are likely to part with at least Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez this winter -- if not both.

In re-signing Eovaldi and then reaching a long-term deal with Chris Sale, Dombrowski put the Sox in a position where – based on their payroll projections and a significant desire to get under the luxury tax threshold sometime in the next two years to reset the penalty structure – they'll likely end up parting with J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, or possibly even both this winter.

Betts, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, has one more season of team control remaining before he qualifies for free agency. Betts has been clear about his desire to test the open market as a means of securing fair value. The Red Sox, in turn, have reportedly contemplated trading him this winter. Betts is making $20 million this season and should receive another sizable raise ahead of next season.

Martinez, meanwhile, can opt out of his contract after this season or next if he so desires. Should he remain in place, he'll make more than $60 million over the next three years.

As we covered elsewhere, the Red Sox have baseball's highest payroll and are well over the luxury-tax threshold. Owner John Henry had to pay nearly $12 million in overage fees last winter, and will have to cut another check this winter. 

Based on Speier's report, the Red Sox would like to get under the tax line ($208 million next season) to reset their penalties. Doing so while maintaining the current core -- and adding pieces to shore up weak spots -- would be difficult. As such, it's not too surprising to learn that the Red Sox may look to move on from one (or two) of their highest-paid players. 

It is, however, disappointing that a global brand as powerful as the Red Sox are would be willing to trade a 26-year-old perennial MVP candidate in order to save their owner money. After all, Betts is the kind of player the Red Sox -- and every other team in baseball -- is said to desire: young, productive, and by all accounts a model human being off the field.

Blame should be placed on Dombrowski for maneuvering the Red Sox into a financial state where trading or allowing Betts to walk was ever deemed an option -- especially given the poor results yielded by his alternative signings. But Henry is to blame as well, and Red Sox fans are positioned for what could be a painful winter -- all, apparently, because the rich desire to get richer.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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