The Boston Red Sox reportedly don't want to move Mookie Betts, but that doesn't change the fact that their payroll needs to be slashed.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the Red Sox are eyeing the starting rotation as the solution:
"Multiple executives this week said they believe a potential trade involving 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts is unlikely to happen. The Boston Red Sox, who are looking to cut payroll, instead are trying to move salary in the form of a pitcher—either David Price or Nathan Eovaldi. Which is all well and good, except that to do so, the Red Sox will need to include someone of value."
Betts is owed $27.7 million in 2020 before becoming a free agent following next season, and the 27-year-old outfielder told reporters in March that he doesn't "expect anything to happen till I'm a free agent."
The four-time Gold Glove winner added: "I love it here in Boston," he said. "It's a great spot. I've definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. ... That doesn't mean I want to sell myself short of my value."
More from Passan: "All of it stems from the desire to sneak under the $208 million luxury-tax threshold. Why the Red Sox, who are worth more than $3 billion and have won four championships in the past 16 years, need to practice austerity is a reasonable question. Particularly if it brings them back to dealing Betts."
Eovaldi and Price's contracts each offers a trade partner more security. Eovaldi is owed $17 million for each season he remains under team control through 2022. Price also remains under team control through 2022 but carries a $32 million price tag per season.
The market may not be robust for Eovaldi given he underwent elbow surgery in late April and didn't make his next start until August 18. Overall, the 29-year-old right-hander went 2-1 with a 5.99 ERA and 1.58 WHIP across 12 starts.
Price, meanwhile, went 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.31 WHIP across 22 starts.
Neither player has a no-trade clause in his contract.