J.D. Martinez has decided to put off free agency for at least one more year, picking up his player option for the 2020 MLB season that will pay him $23.75 million. With Boston Red Sox ownership looking to shed payroll this offseason, the team is expected to look for a way to get below the $208 million luxury tax threshold.

Boston’s current roster is projected to earn more than $226 million in player salaries for next season, according to Spotrac. That includes a $27.7 million salary in arbitration for Mookie Betts, making him a trade candidate this winter.

Betts has one year left on his contract before becoming a free agent, where he could command a contract worth more than $300 million. Between the Red Sox wanting to shed close to $20 million in salary for the upcoming year and the franchise’s unwillingness to give Betts a contract extension that he would accept, there’s speculation that 2018 AL MVP has played his last game with Boston. 

It wouldn’t exactly be hard for the Red Sox to deal Betts in exchange for a package of prospects and promising young players. The 27-year-old has made four straight All-Star teams with three top-6 MVP finishes from 2016-2018. Betts led the league with 135 runs scored in 2019, hitting .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs.

Because Betts only has one year left on his contract, the Red Sox might not get enough back in a trade to justify giving up their best player. Boston has other high-priced players they could try to unload. Doing so would likely also mean trading a young player to incentivize another team to make such a deal.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal speculated that David Price could potentially be moved if Boston includes a player like Andrew Benintendi in a deal. A couple of MLB executives suggested to ESPN’s Jeff Passan that the Red Sox could explore dealing Xander Bogaerts if it means also getting rid of Price and Nathan Eovaldi.

Price has three years left on the most lucrative contract for any pitcher in MLB history. The left-hander is owed $32 million in each of the next three seasons. Eovaldi is set to make $17 million in each of the next three seasons, having missed significant time due to injuries in each of the last five years.

Chris Sale starts the first year of a five-year, $145 million contract extension in 2020. He would be very hard to move, coming off the worst season of his career.

After winning the 2018 World Series, Boston finished in third place in the AL East with an 84-78 record.

Mookie Betts Boston Red Sox Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with the World Series trophy after his team's 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images