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The projected salaries for Red Sox players in arbitration

Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

As the Red Sox look forward to an offseason that should aim to bring at least a couple major additions to the roster, budget is always going to be a concern. Now, they should be willing to go over the luxury tax unlike last year, though that’s a post for a future day. Even with that, though, every team has a budget. It’s often not as big as we’d like, or frankly as big as it should be, but it’s there. This year, the Red Sox have something of a unique wrinkle in their budget: A buttload of arbitration-eligible players. Right now, they have a whopping fifteen players who will be eligible for arbitration this year. That is a huge chunk of the roster, and each and every one of them — if held on the roster — will receive a raise in salary.

Arbitration is an antiquated process in baseball, but it is a major part of roster building and planning for those salaries is something that every front office needs to do. Fortunately for those of us not in front offices (and I’m sure those who are there use this as well), MLB Trade Rumors projects the salary for every arbitration-eligible player in baseball every year. You can see that list here, and it of course includes the Red Sox. While they obviously aren’t perfect with their projections, the MLBTR group has a phenomenal track record in this area.

Below, you will see a table with the 15 arbitration-eligible Red Sox players, their salary from this past year, their projected salary for 2018 and the difference between the two. Of course, the dollar amounts listed are in the millions.

Player 2017 Salary Projected 2018 Salary Difference
Player 2017 Salary Projected 2018 Salary Difference
Robbie Ross $1.83 $2 -$0.18
Joe Kelly $2.80 $3.60 -$0.80
Drew Pomeranz $4.45 $9.10 -$4.65
Josh Rutledge $0.60 $0.70 -$0.10
Tyler Thornburg $2.05 $2.10 -$0.05
Brock Holt $1.95 $2.00 -$0.05
Xander Bogaerts $4.50 $7.60 -$3.10
Jackie Bradley $3.60 $5.90 -$2.30
Sandy Leon $1.30 $2.10 -$0.80
Steven Wright $0.59 $1.20 -$0.61
Mookie Betts $0.95 $8.20 -$7.25
Brandon Workman $0.65 $0.90 -$0.25
Christian Vazquez $0.56 $1.50 -$0.94
Carson Smith $0.56 $1.10 -$0.54
Eduardo Rodriguez $0.58 $2.70 -$2.12
Total $23.74

There’s a lot to digest on this table, but the main takeaway is this: The Red Sox are going to be adding some serious salary to their books even without adding new players from the outside. All added up, there is a projected $23 million of increased salary. Granted, all of these players won’t be back next year, but there aren’t a lot of no-brainer nontenders. In fact, Josh Rutledge would be the only one I see there. There are arguments for others — Ross, Holt, and Leon stand out — but there’s also an argument to keep all of them.

More than anything, this list shows why teams try to lock up players early in their careers and why players can often be resistant. Look no further than Mookie Betts, who is projected to see a massive increase in salary over $7 million. Pomeranz, Bogaerts, Bradley and Rodriguez are all getting significant raises as well. This is the cost of doing business when you have a young core all coming up together. They all get expensive at the same time. Fortunately, the Red Sox have a budget that should be able to fit all of these salary increases, though it remains to be seen just how many of these guys really will be back for 2018.