Boston Red Sox aren’t actively shopping outfielder Mookie Betts
By Sean Penney
The Boston Red Sox have no intention of salary-dumping superstar outfielder Mookie Betts in order to achieve their payroll goals.
The goal remains to find a way to escape luxury tax territory but the Boston Red Sox aren’t going to sacrifice Mookie Betts to get under the threshold.
According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the Red Sox are not actively shopping Betts. That’s not to say they won’t listen to offers. Anyone is available for the right price. Chaim Bloom will answer the phone if teams inquire about Betts but he’s not placing the call to offer up his superstar on a silver platter.
Rumors will run rampant as long as there is a chance that a player of this caliber is potentially available but the expectation is that a trade won’t happen. Very few teams can afford the $28 million that Betts is projected to earn in arbitration and those who can are hesitant to surrender a hefty package of prospects for a one-year rental. Boston would need to be blown away with a king’s ransom to even consider pulling the trigger on a Betts trade.
The Red Sox are NOT going to sell Betts for 10 cents on the dollar no matter how desperate they are to trim their payroll. The front office remains convinced that they can find financial freedom elsewhere, with David Price being the most likely candidate to be moved.
Boston’s brass also won’t make a panic trade out of fear that they might lose Betts to free agency next year. The Red Sox aren’t giving up hope that they can keep Betts for the long term. Trading him now means losing the advantage of any potential tie-breaker they may have over other suitors.
Trading Betts would also essentially mean punting on the 2020 season – the Red Sox aren’t going to compete without him. Even if he does end up signing elsewhere next offseason, holding on to Betts for one more year has value.
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A contract extension this offseason still appears to be a long shot. Bradford’s report indicates that Betts is asking for a contract close to Mike Trout‘s 12-year, $426 million deal. Betts is an outstanding talent but he’s not Mike Trout. He can ask for that all he wants, no team will give him that much even if he hits the open market in a year.
Betts deserves and will almost certainly receive a higher average annual value than Manny Machado (10-year, $300 million) or Bryce Harper (13-year, $330 million) received last winter. However, he won’t necessarily top the total amount that either earned. Keep in mind that Machado and Harper both received those massive deals at the age of 26 but Betts will be 28 years old if he waits until free agency.
Betts isn’t a lock to get 10+ years and any team that gives him that duration is paying for fewer years of his prime compared to Machado. Harper signed a longer deal in order to spread out the money to reduce the AAV for luxury tax purposes.
Nolan Arenado received an eight-year extension entering his age 28-season. Anthony Rendon signed for seven years as a free agent at the age of 29. Betts will get paid more than either of them but the precedent set by these players suggests he’ll be hard-pressed to get more than eight years.
Betts apparently doesn’t see it that way and is willing to wait until next year to find out what the market dictates he’s worth. Boston will compete with any reasonable offer. The only reason to trade him now is if they had already determined they aren’t going to invest in Betts as part of their future. That clearly isn’t the case.
The narrative building over the course of this offseason is that Boston’s top priority is to avoid the luxury tax when the reality is that their No. 1 priority is keeping Betts in a Red Sox uniform for the rest of his career.