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.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.
With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.
Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.
Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.