Red Sox: Mookie Betts reportedly shutdown extension talks last winter
The Boston Red Sox star is going to take his time before he makes a long-term commitment.
According to a report by Jon Heyman of the FanRag Network, the Red Sox approached Mookie Betts with a long-term contract offer over the winter. Evidently, the 24-year-old slugger was more than content to move on a year-by-year basis.
Per Heyman’s sources, there wasn’t a specific dollar value tied to the contract extensions, though one could easily speculate the size of a deal for a player of Betts’ ability. He finished second in AL MVP voting last season after turning in 31 homers, 122 runs, 113 RBI, 26 steals, a 135 wRC+, and 7.8 fWAR. He also led all position players in defensive runs saved (32), resulting in his first career Gold Glove Award. By almost all accounts, he was the best right fielder in baseball.
While he decided to forgo the opportunity to sign an extension last winter, that doesn’t mean the Red Sox couldn’t lock him up before he hits free agency. He’ll become arbitration eligible for the first time this coming offseason and won’t accrue his minimum six years of service to be free agent eligible until 2021.
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From the player’s perspective, it’s no surprise that he chose to make his money on a yearly basis. Betts stands to cash in on the arbitration process based on his ability and minimal risk of injury. He, like other young stars in the game (Kris Bryant and Francisco Lindor), are foregoing the security of a long-term deal for the payday of arbitration, and you can’t really blame them.
The Red Sox paid Betts $950,000 after his career season, though they were under no obligation to pay him more than the league minimum. Through the arbitration process, he could stand to make $11-15 million per year based on similar players’ settlements. There’s a major incentive for a player of his ability to delay signing.
He’s also raking again this year, with 11 homers, 42 runs, 37 RBI, 11 steals, and a .830 OPS through 62 games played. He’s still playing some of the best all-around defense in baseball to go with his impressive offensive numbers, proving that 2016 was no fluke.
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Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox’ other young star players, will enter their first and second years of respective arbitration in 2018. Both are represented by Scott Boras, who is notorious for extracting as much money as humanly possible for his clients.