Boston was one of only two teams that paid into the luxury tax last season, along with the Washington Nationals. The team's $238.4-million payroll in 2018 blew well past the $197-million tax threshold, leading to some $11.3 million in penalties.
The Red Sox are likely going to pay a luxury tax of some kind in 2019. Cuts to what remains a league-high payroll - slightly above $167 million, according to Spotrac - would be made in an attempt to stay below the highest tax threshold, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Trading starter Rick Porcello is one possibility being explored as the Red Sox are reported to be "openly listening" to offers for the former Cy Young winner, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Rival executives told Nightengale the Red Sox are also willing to discuss shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Gold Glove center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Porcello and Bogaerts are both free agents at season's end. Porcello will earn $21 million in 2019, the final year of an $82-million deal signed in 2015. He also holds limited no-trade protection and can block deals to three teams of his choosing, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Bogaerts, meanwhile, is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $11.9 million in arbitration next year.
Bradley has another two years of arbitration remaining and is projected to make $7.9 million in 2019.
If president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is able to move some salary, Nightengale reports the Red Sox want to use the savings to add relievers. The team has been connected to several available bullpen arms including David Robertson and Adam Ottavino.