Mookie Betts is in a pretty good place right now. He just won his first go-around in arbitration, taking home a near-record for a first timer with a $10.5 million salary in 2018. Merely staying the course on his current levels of production will mean astronomical salaries in arbitration years two and three, and if he takes his game to a new level, his pay will be something truly amazing to behold.
That gives the Red Sox a very, very big incentive to lock Betts up to a long-term deal. Betts, however, is not interested in talking about that during the season. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe:
It’s the smart financial play for him, for sure. Betts is just 25 right now and, if he stays on his current course, would hit free agency in his prime, at age 28. A deal which buys out his last two years of arbitration and some amount of his free agency would delay true free agency until he’s in his 30s, most likely, and as we’re seeing this year, being a free agent over 30 is not a great place to be.
All of which means, if you’re the Red Sox, and if you want to lock Betts up long term next fall, you had best go hard or go home.
The Rays have acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named later, the teams announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the Rays cleared a roster spot for Cron by designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.
Cron wasn’t expected to factor prominently in the Angels’ plans for 2018, especially given the recent addition of pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the projected Luis Valbuena/Albert Pujols combo at first base. The 28-year-old infielder wasn’t overly impressive during his fourth season in Anaheim, either, slashing .248/.305/.437 with 16 home runs and 0.5 fWAR through 373 plate appearances in 2017. He’ll give the Rays a platoon option with fellow first baseman Brad Miller, though neither Cron nor Miller have looked particularly adept against left-handed pitching lately.
Dickerson, meanwhile, is coming off of a banner season with the Rays. The 29-year-old outfielder enjoyed his first All-Star nomination in 2017, rounding out the year with a .282/.325/.490 batting line and career-best 27 home runs and 2.6 fWAR in 629 PA. Some have already speculated that a trade is in the works; barring that, it’s a head-scratching move to make considering his clear offensive value to the team.