So here comes the speculation. Fans have been stressing after reports came out that Mookie Betts refused to negotiate a long term deal during the offseason. However, the good news is that Boston is still willing to talk about an extension after this season.
With the MLB arbitration rules, Betts technically will not become a free agent until 2020. However, he is technically not signed to a contract after his year. Keeping a player on a pre-arbitration contract usually doesn’t fair well long term for a team. Kris Bryant broke an MLB record for highest pre-arbitration contract signed at just over one million dollars. Im guessing it didn’t take long for Mookie to look at David Price’s 30 million dollar a year contract and realize something was off.
Boston should do everything they can to resign Mookie. The 24 year old has been nothing short of amazing since coming into the league in 2014. Debuting in late June of the 2014 season, Betts was one of the few positives on a very bad Red Sox team. He continued his hot hitting during the 2015 season. Betts hit .291, with 18 HR, 77 RBI, 92 runs scored and 21 stolen bases. He proved to not only to make an impact with his bat, but on the bases and in the field as well.
2016 is where Mookie really broke out. At only 23 years old he challenged Mike Trout in in the MVP race and put up monster numbers. 31 homers, 118 RBI, 26 stolen bases and a .318 average put Betts among the elite in the league. Considered by many to be one of the top 5 hitters in baseball, Betts has cemented his name into the league pretty quickly.
So why not just pay Mookie what he wants? Well it actually becomes much more complicated than that. The “Killer B’s” as they’re called are all on rookie contract. Betts, Bogaerts, Benintendi and Bradley are all due for an extension in the near future. With the Red Sox already giving up huge contracts to the likes of Pablo Sandavol, David Price and Dustin Pedroia, it seems like it will be pretty difficult to spend on all of these upcoming players.
If this was any other sport, this would be a major issue. But this is baseball. There is no salary cap. Of course there is a luxury tax, but no restriction as to how much money a team can spend. This means Boston needs to open up their pockets, accept their mistakes and sign the young guys.
If it comes down to letting someone go, Jackie Bradley is the guy. Of course his defense in centerfield is top tier, however his hitting is not. With Betts fully capable of playing centerfield, it will not be a huge loss. He is without a question the worst hitter of the group in a league where hitting is very badly needed. Benintendi, Bogaerts and Betts are three guys you simply can not let go.
Red Sox fans should be furious if Betts ends up walking. He has been the definition of a model player since being bought up. Always hustles, never in any trouble, shows up early and never has any issues with fans or media. If the Red Sox decide to give Price and Sandavol huge money but won’t pay Betts, then something is seriously wrong.