The main goal of the Red Sox' offseason plan is to slash payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold. For the 2020 season, the luxury tax is set at $208 million but the Red Sox payroll for 2020 projects to be at $224 946 428 which includes projected arbitration salaries. Just over half of that projected payroll is set to go towards five of 25 players on the roster on guaranteed contracts. While it won't be popular among Red Sox fans, one way the Red Sox may look to get under the luxury tax threshold is by trading superstar Mookie Betts who's projected to earn $27.7 million in his final year of arbitration.

In 2019, Betts kind of had a down year from his career norms but still put up very good numbers with a slash line of .295/.391/.524 with 29 HR, 80 RBIs and 16 SB. He holds a career slash line of .301/.374/.519 with 139 HR, 470 RBIs with 965 hits compared to just 464 strikeouts. He also has 126 career SB with a success rate of 83.4 percent.

Regarding career accolades, he's made four all-star appearances, three Silver Slugger awards, four Gold Glove awards, and an MVP award, Defensive Player of the Year award and a World Series ring that all came in 2018.

He's one of the premier five-tool players that MLB has. Even though he'd be a welcome addition to any team, only a few teams are realistic fits since there's one year left on his contract. Here are possible destinations for Betts and the returns they can get if the Red Sox decide to move him.

Atlanta Braves

ATL: Betts

BOS: P Bryse Wilson, P Kyle Muller and OF Trey Harris

The Braves had an elite core of Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson, Ronald Acuna, and Ozzie Albies last season but Donaldson may no longer be part of the picture as he's a free agent and can sign wherever he wants.

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The rest of the offense drops off considerably after those three guys and Betts would be a great player to add to that core. In return, the Red Sox would get the Braves sixth-ranked prospect Bryse Wilson, seventh-ranked prospect Kyle Muller and number 18 ranked prospect, Trey Harris.

If the Braves were to acquire Betts, he can slot in as either the center fielder or right fielder with Acuna being right next to him. Whether Betts plays center or right, he would form an elite and athletic defensive outfield combination with Acuna which would be very beneficial in a big ballpark like Sun Trust Field is.

Betts would create a daunting top of the order of Acuna, Albies, himself and Freeman which combined to bat .291 with 132 HR in 2019.

With the Red Sox getting three prospects, it would help restore the cupboard a little as the Red Sox farm system is very thin. In his career in the minors, Wilson has an E.R.A. of 2.94 with 429 strikeouts compared to 354 hits given up and an opponent average of .230. Muller took huge strides forward in his development this year as he posted an E.R.A. of 3.14 with an opponent average of .208.

In his minor league career, he has an E.R.A. of 3.03 with 336 strikeouts and only 264 hits given up in 326 2/3 innings pitched which gives him a career opponent average of .223. Along with Wilson and Muller, the Red Sox would be able to net a bat in Harris who slashed .323/.389/.498 with 152 hits in A and AA combined in 2019. His ETA is 2021 but he could reach the big leagues next season and replace Betts in the outfield if he continues his development.

St.Louis Cardinals

STL: Betts

BOS: OF Harrison Bader or OF Tyler O'Neill, RP Dominic Leone, P Steven Gingery and a minor league hitter

The Cardinals won the NL Central but that was largely due to their pitching.

Their hitting was a struggle as they only really managed to get offensive production out of Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna with Ozuna hitting free agency. If the Cardinals want to repeat in 2020, they'll need to bolster their lineup and Betts would be a huge help. To get Betts, the Cardinals would have to give up one of their major league outfielders in Harrison Bader or Tyler O'Neill, relief pitcher Dominic Leone, pitching prospect Steven Gingery and a minor league hitter that's not a top 30 prospect in the Cardinals organization.

The Cardinals acquiring Betts would just make the team much better. Just like Betts would provide a boost to any team, only a few teams make sense to acquire Betts and the Cards are one of them. They're in a contending phase and are looking to make the team better. When the Cardinals got swept by the Nationals in the NLCS, it was obvious that the offense was in need of improvements and adding Betts to the lineup would help. Acquiring Betts would give the Cardinals a huge offensive boost, especially when they're up against top pitchers in the league.

Meanwhile the Red Sox would get a decent haul that will help them stay competitive in 2020 and stay under the luxury tax threshold.

Boston would be able to choose between Harrison Bader, a young athletic outfielder that excels on the basepaths and in the field or Tyler O'Neill who has monstrous power and could very well hit 30+ HR if given regular playing time. To simplify it, the Red Sox can choose between a younger more athletic version of current CF Jackie Bradley Jr or a younger version of DH J.D. Martinez.

They would also be able to add an arm to their struggling bullpen in Dominic Leon who struggled last season but when he was with the Blue Jays in 2017, he posted a 2.56 E.R.A. with good numbers so perhaps a change of scenery back to the AL East could benefit both Leone and the Red Sox.

To add to their prospect cupboard, they would get pitching prospect Steven Gingery who projects to be an innings eater at the major league level which is something that the Red Sox are in need of due to their old and injury-prone rotation. They would also be able to get a bat that wouldn't be in the top 30 in the Cardinals minor league system but would be a player with a high ceiling, so perhaps a young minor leaguer with potential to be a starting-caliber player at the major league level.

New York Mets

NYM: Betts, 3B Bobby Dalbec and RP Bobby Poyner

BOS: P Steven Matz or P Noah Syndergaard, 1B Dominic Smith, P Matthew Allan, P Kevin Smith and P Stephen Gonsalves

This is a prime example of a blockbuster trade with lots of moving pieces include star players switching teams (potentially) and high ceiling players that are being moved because of their path being blocked on their current team.

The Mets are trying to be contenders in 2020 so trading for Betts would solidify that but they would also be able to net a good prospect in Bobby Dalbec who's the second-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization and a relief arm in Bobby Poyner who's ranked 30 in the Red Sox organization. Going to Boston would be a quality major league starting pitcher in Steven Matz or Noah Syndergaard, Dominic Smith, fourth-ranked prospect Matthew Allan, eleventh ranked prospect Kevin Smith and twenty third-ranked prospect Stephen Gonsalves.

The Mets have a back-to-back Cy Young Winner, the reigning Rookie of the Year who's primed to become a star so why not add a former MVP into the fold.

Betts would provide the Mets an impact bat that would push them over the top and make them serious contenders. Betts can man center or right for the Mets with one of Nimmo or Conforto sliding over to left which would make J.D. Davis a bench bat who could be used every day as a pinch hitter for the pitcher. The Mets current third baseman is Jed Lowrie who can't be trusted as he only appeared in nine games last season. Dalbec, while unproven, would provide a younger presence at the hot corner and can be held onto for a longer-term at a cheaper cost. Dalbec is blocked by Rafael Devers in Boston so a move to Queens would give him a clear path to playing time.

Meanwhile Poyner would be a throw in and an bullpen arm that the Mets can control until 2024.

The return for Boston from the Mets for Betts would help the Red Sox both now and in the future. They would be able to add to their rotation by either getting Steven Matz who's cheaper but is a free agent at the end of 2020 or Noah Syndergaard who's better, under contract for two more seasons but will be more expensive. They would also be able to get Dominic Smith who's blocked at first base by Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso. The Mets did experiment using Smith in the outfield but the results turned out to be disastrous.

In Beantown, Smith would get more playing time than he would in New York and in 89 games in 2019, he slashed .282/.355/.525.

To improve their farm system, the Red Sox would net three pitching prospects, all laden with tremendous upside. Matthew Allan projects as a future frontline starter and with an ETA of 2023 due to his age of 18, the Red Sox will be cautious with him and give him all the time to develop into the frontline starter he projects to be. In 140 2/3 career innings in the minors, Kevin Smith has a 2.75 E.R.A. with 158 strikeouts and a career opponent average of .237. Stephen Gonsalves stock has taken a hit in recent years due to struggles and injuries but he was once expected to be a solid major league starter even getting comparisons to Madison Bumgarner. In the case that the Red Sox decided to take Syndergaard over Matz, one of Allan, Smith or Gonsalves would have to be removed from the equation.

San Diego Padres

SD: Betts

BOS: OF Hunter Renfroe, SP Dinelson Lamet, P Ryan Weathers and P Matthew Thompson

In the past two offseasons, the Padres have made big moves. In the 2017-18 offseason, they signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million deal and last offseason they signed Manny Machado to a 10 year, $300 million contract. They can make a big move for a third straight offseason via trade by trading for Mookie Betts. The Padres would part ways with Hunter Renfroe, Dinelson Lamet, ninth-ranked prospect Ryan Weathers and twenty seventh-ranked prospect Matthew Thompson.

With nine straight losing seasons, the Padres are looking to turn things around and they very well could in 2020. They have a dynamic left side of the infield, an emerging ace in Chris Paddack and other young players including prospects that make up the team. Acquiring Betts would go a long way in helping the Padres be contenders and potentially squeak into a wild card spot. Betts would go a long way in helping the Padres defensively as the corner outfield spots are occupied by Renfroe and Wil Myers who are poor defenders.

With this package, the Red Sox would get a replacement for Betts in Renfroe who is under contract until 2023 and can hit 30+ HR consistently. Dinelson Lamet would bring a younger presence in an old Red Sox rotation and Lamet has a ton of swing and miss stuff which is evidenced by his 244 strikeouts in 187 1/3 career innings pitched in the majors. To stash in the minors for further development would be Ryan Weathers who doesn't have overpowering stuff but has tremendous off-speed pitches and would be an excellent mid-rotation starter in the future. They would also get Matthew Thompson who has decent off-speed offerings but is in need of development but he'll have time to do so as his ETA is 2021.

Philadelphia Phillies

PHI: Betts

BOS: P Enyel De Los Santos (7), OF Mickey Moniak (8) and P David Parkinson (18)

Phillies lineup with Betts

1) Andrew McCutchen LF

2) Mookie Betts CF

3) Bryce Harper RF

4) Rhys Hoskins 1B

5) J.T. Realmuto C

6) Jean Segura SS

7) Scott Kingery/Cesar Hernandez 2B

8) Scott Kingery/Maikel Franco 3B

9) Pitcher

What's in it for the Red Sox?

De Los Santos

- Career 3.57 E.R.A. in minors

- Career .237 opponent average

Moniak

- First overall pick of 2016 draft

- So far has struggled to live up to expectations

- Change of scenery and new development could help him get back on track

Parkinson

- Career 2.71 E.R.A. in minors

- 301 K/228 H

- Career .226 opponent average

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