The Boston Red Sox will make every effort to sign Mookie Betts either now or when Betts becomes a free agent. What may happen this offseason?
Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts is slowly plodding along to a great number – one that will reward Betts. Baseball is a numbers game with the constant use of statistics and the statistics become a driver for financial reward with the better the numbers the better the reward. Betts’ big number is 2021 – a long way off, but still looming like a sword of Damocles.
The 2021 season will end and the most notable free agent will be Betts. Next season it is arbitration two and then arbitration three. Arbitration has already resulted in a final score of Betts one and management zero. Betts’ $10.5 million salary was deemed appropriate by an arbitrator and after this season expect an arbitration record. Betts will be 28-years-old and in the prime years of his baseball life and maybe an MVP Award and a page load of statistical positives.
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Not succumbing to the temptation of a long-term deal is risky for Betts since injuries and even a mysterious plunge in numbers can surface. Baseball is loaded with both and the closest comparison on the talent lost scale is Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen took the money and the once-MVP deteriorated with the Pirates getting less bounce for the buck. Betts could be an outfield wall away from losing a pile of money and baseball is filled with promise cut short by injury.
Did the Red Sox seek out Betts’ agency to negotiate a contract extension? Maybe and maybe not would seem to suffice. My assumption is, as I leap to a conclusion, is the Red Sox are in a wait and see mode. Betts apparently is in the same mode waiting for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to give a tad more insight into value.
Does animosity potentially play into the contract dynamics? The arbitration process can be a “bloody” event with management presenting their version of “facts” and Betts’ representatives showing their version of “facts.” How contentious and how much hostility is involved? I go along with that known sage Michael Corleone – “It’s strictly business.”
Somehow I do not picture the effervescent Betts holding grudges over business dealings that he completely understands. Betts will certainly get his money here or elsewhere and he knows it. The deciding factor may not be the money but the here or elsewhere. Will Betts wish to stay tethered to Boston?
Betts is quickly elevating himself to an area reserved for Ted Williams, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, and Tom Brady – just to cherry pick a few legends. Betts is also the new face of the franchise but has yet to embrace that stature with the same aplomb of a David Ortiz. That, however, is linked to personality and Betts is more restrained than Papi.
With a World Series championship in the next few years and continuation of “numbers” bordering on the historic, Betts is in the ultimate sweet spot. Losing Betts would be a crushing blow to the team and especially an adoring fan base. There are simply situations where you must get it done regardless of fiscal circumstances – even a ten-year, $400 million deal.
This offseason may see the Red Sox and Betts attempt to reach a long-term deal once Harper and Machado sign a glimpse of the market may be in play for Betts and the Red Sox. The Red Sox will most certainly be paying a premium on buying out arbitration years and then adding on years that is anyone’s guess. That is exactly the smart thing to do for both Betts and a Red Sox future.
For the sake of conjecture, Betts should wait this out and see what the absolute maximizing of his dollar value will be. That, of course, tosses safety to the wind and can be viewed as greed. For me, I would see it as a smart business decision and as Red Barber would say. Betts is “In the catbird seat.”