The Boston Red Sox and Mookie Betts have reached a contractual accord for 2020. Does this open up opportunities to retain Betts?
Is there a Mookie Betts recovery group for contributors so we have an intervention on no more Betts articles? I’m ready to join a ten-step or more program, but until then I will continue to contribute to the Betts drama. My next take on the path this may follow – subject to change at any time.
High profile signings of position players do not necessarily make sure of success on the field. Neither Manny Machado or Bryce Harper brought their new teams to the playoff promised land, but that could change as other pieces are added or subtracted. How does this impact, Betts? Where is this going?
Betts will sign an enormous contract either with Boston or another suitor who clears some payroll and needs a centerpiece for their franchise. The money is known for this season as Betts and Boston had a conjugal visit – in a baseball sense – and reached a nice $27 Million accommodation.
The signing so quickly and amicable is different from the previous arbitration hostilities where Betts won. Arbitration hearings can be a divisive force since the player’s representatives and management are at loggerheads with the agents declaring sainthood and management that the player is a stiff. Yes – that is an overblown assessment, but the friction is not.
This time around the Red Sox ran the numbers through their abacus and came up with a respectable number. Team Betts already had a figure in mind and undoubtedly the number came into the same fiscal ballpark as management. Case settled. Betts is here for the season – maybe.
Betts is firmly on record that he will test the market which is a clear signal to potential buyers that a high risk exists. Was that deliberate, insidious, or just honesty? I will go with door number three – honesty. Shipping out prized prospects for a rental may not be a course of reasonable action, but baseball management has never been collectively reasonable. The potential that Betts elevates a team over the hump may just be too tempting.
A team that trades for Betts will have to have deep pockets knowing that when Betts comes back with a folder full of offer sheets they will have to match. Ditto for the Red Sox. That is naturally a risk as Betts may wish to plant his talents in a home of his choosing and be willing to toss a few potential million to the winds.
The Red Sox are also part of the conspiracy blender as Betts may just want to return knowing that business is business and not take a trade personally. With Red Sox clearing payroll, a freshly minted free agent Betts could return to a comfortable nest with adoring fans, a genuflections media in tow, a reasonably solid team to add support, and a personal comfort zone.
There are many paths to the Betts’s never-ending story – even if tomorrow Betts is packaged, sealed, and sent elsewhere. No messy payroll complications for 2020. Whatever transpires, it is clear that you just don’t want to lose a franchise player, but history also shows that it is not the end of the local baseball world as we know it.
Stars have left Boston – stars of various magnitudes – and the franchise survived and in the case of an unrepentant Nomar Garciaparra actually busted a curse. So if Betts is just an occasional visitor to Fenway Park, the team will still prosper as long as they are reasonably competitive.
The message I like is the preemptive signing of Betts that shows a no-nonsense realistic approach. The table on a one-year deal is clear and next in line is possible negotiations with team Betts to decide potential contractual demands. That will allow a baseline for assessing payroll for 2021 and possibly the entire decade if the Red Sox seriously pursue Betts.