If Mookie Betts does leave Boston, it's unlikely to be this winter.
Despite rampant speculation he could be moved in order to trim payroll, executives around the league believe it's unlikely the Red Sox will deal the 2018 AL MVP this offseason, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
But Boston still wants to shed salary and move under the first competitive balance tax threshold before Opening Day. In order to do that, the team is looking to move one of its two high-priced arms in David Price or Nathan Eovaldi, Passan reports.
Moving either pitcher will be easier said than done, though, as the Red Sox will likely have to add another piece to get out of the contracts. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi's name is apparently a popular one in trade talks, Passan reports, although it's not clear if he's a serious candidate to be moved.
Price has three years and $96 million left on his record $217-million contract with the Red Sox. His tenure in Boston has not been without some success, including a brilliant performance in the 2018 World Series, but the former Cy Young winner has fallen short of expectations overall.
The 34-year-old left-hander posted a 4.28 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 1.31 WHIP with 128 strikeouts over 22 starts in 2019 and underwent wrist surgery near the end of the season. Price has only reached the 30-start mark twice in his Red Sox career, with injuries and inconsistent performance often standing in the way.
Eovaldi signed a four-year, $68-million deal last winter after he starred for the Red Sox during their 2018 World Series run. But the 29-year-old, who has a history of elbow problems, underwent elbow surgery in April and missed three months; when he returned to action, the Red Sox temporarily moved him into the bullpen.
Overall, Eovaldi posted a 5.99 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over 23 appearances (12 starts) last year.
Neither Price nor Eovaldi own a no-trade clause.
The Red Sox ran MLB's largest payroll last season and paid into the highest luxury-tax threshold. Their goal of getting back under the lowest threshold was made tougher after Chris Sale signed a $145-million extension midseason and J.D. Martinez opted into the final three years and $62.5-million of his deal. Betts, now one year away from free agency, is projected to earn an arbitration-record $27.7 million in 2020.
Trading one of Price or Eovaldi would not only help bring the Red Sox payroll in line with their stated goal of resetting the competitive balance tax, but could also open up room to negotiate an extension with Betts.