Red Sox renew Mookie Betts with one year extension
After initially making an attempt to sign Mookie Betts, the Boston Red Sox have renewed the right fielder’s contract for the 2017 season.
What’s the difference between signing a player and renewing their contract? The two sound like they’re identical, but there is an important distinction. The Red Sox signed 18 pre-arbitration eligible players on Thursday, meaning they were able to agree to terms with the respective athletes. However, Mookie Betts was notably exempt from that group. Instead, the Red Sox renewed his contract for $950,000 according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports.
MLB organizations can automatically renew pre-arbitration eligible players if the two camps fail to come to an agreement. Thus, players with zero-to-three years of service time are eligible to play for the league minimum ($535,000) regardless of performance if their teams so decide. Organizations that are smart and care about their relationships with young players will tend to avoid making such financially stringent decisions, which the Red Sox historically have proven to be.
The Red Sox were generally successful in this measure once again, signing 18 pre-arbitration players to extensions. Andrew Benintendi, Blake Swihart, Carson Smith, Christian Vazquez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Steven Wright were notably included in that group.
Nevertheless, Betts was not.
To be fair to the Red Sox, $950,000 is a significant increase over what Mookie was making last season. To put it into perspective, he’ll earn 67% more in 2017 than the $566,000 he made last season.
His contract will be the second highest pre-arbitration salary in MLB history, behind only Mike Trout. After Trout’s back-to-back second place finishes in MVP voting at the start of his career, the Angels renewed his contract for a cool $1 million.
That Betts and the Red Sox couldn’t come to an agreement isn’t overly alarming. It’s easy to understand why each side held firm in their stance. For Betts, he was the second best player in the American League last season and one of the best players in all of baseball. Players with the skill set that he has get paid, and paid well at that. From the club’s view, they were simply playing by the rules mutually agreed upon by the owners and MLBPA.
Red Sox president of baseball operations echoed these sentiments, according to Mike Cole of NESN.
"“That was his choice, and we just couldn’t come up with a number that he thought was the right number for him,” Dombrowski said, admitting he was “a little bit” surprised about Betts’ decision. “It was significantly above the minimum. We didn’t feel like there were any animosities involved. He just had a different number in mind than we had, so we just couldn’t come to an agreement.”"
Thankfully for the Red Sox, neither side left with animosity towards the other. Betts is still just 24 so the club will have plenty of time to restart negotiations on a long-term extension, which would be welcomed news.
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Along with Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr will require extensions in the not too distant future.