Mookie Betts and the Boston Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $27 million contract for the 2020 season. It’s the largest one-year salary for an arbitration-eligible player in history. The previous record came last year when Nolan Arenado and the Rockies agreed to a $26 million pact.
Arenado’s deal led to negotiations for a $260 million, eight-year deal. Betts, like Arenado a year ago, has one year left before he can be an unrestricted free agent. The Red Sox are rumored to be at least exploring a trade of Betts, as the club signaled earlier this offseason that they would like to get below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $208 million in total payroll. Another option would be to sign him to an extension. Another option would be to simply pay him his $27 million and see if he leaves via free agency a year from now.
Part of that calculus: Sox’ DH J.D. Martinez declined to opt-out of his contract. Earlier this offseason the President of the Red Sox said it would be “difficult” to keep both Betts and Martinez and still get below the the threshold. We’ll soon see how difficult that is or if, for that matter, the Sox still stick with that plan.
Either way, the four-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, and 2018 MVP Award winner knows what he’ll make, at the very least, in 2020.
You can track all of the other arbitration-avoiding deals here.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.