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.
Per Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have been discussing the idea of playing the 2020 season entirely in Arizona. The state has 10 spring training parks as well as Chase Field, home to the Diamondbacks. MLB suspended the 2020 season last month as the U.S. began to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This certainly comes as no surprise as commissioner Rob Manfred has suggested the need to potentially get “creative” if MLB is to have a season. Other ideas have included running the season deep into the fall, hosting games in mostly warm-weather states, and making use of frequent doubleheaders.
For many reasons, the U.S. has not done well to date dealing with the pandemic, so it is quite optimistic to expect sports to return at any point in the near future. That being said, agent Scott Boras, who spoke to Blum, suggested baseball’s return could provide “a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment.” He added that that product would be “inspirational to our country.”
MLB and all of its associated interests stand to lose significant amounts of money the longer the season is delayed, which is why many are champing at the bit for the schedule to resume. Presumably, any resumption of the schedule would require that games not be played in front of fans.