Red Sox's Mookie Betts doesn't want to sell himself short with an extension, says he expects to hit free agency
The reigning AL MVP is two years away from free agency
On Tuesday,. The deal includes 10 years and $360 million in new money and is easily the largest contract in baseball history.
Red Sox wunderkind and reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts. Betts and Trout were both set to become free agents in two years and now Mookie stands alone as the top superstar in that class. Trout set the top of the market and will no longer compete for free agent dollars with Betts. We saw how that somewhat worked against Manny Machado and Bryce Harper this winter.?
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Tuesday that Betts rejected an eight-year, $200 million extension following the 2017 season. Betts confirmed that report Wednesday, and added he doesn't expect to sign an extension anytime soon.
"I love it here in Boston. It's a great spot. I've definitely grown to love going up north in the cold," Betts also said to reporters, including Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. "... That doesn't mean I want to sell myself short of my value."
Betts, who will play the entire 2019 regular season at age 26, will make $20 million this year after making $10.5 million last year. This season's $20 million salary is a record for a player in his second season of arbitration eligibility. Mookie has yet to receive a monster baseball payday, though he will have banked over $30 million player contracts by the end of the season, which is apparently enough to go year-to-year and continue betting on himself.
There are very few players comparable to Betts in general, and even fewer who are comparable and signed a long-term contract extension at the same service time level. Seven players have signed a nine-figure extension at Mookie's service time level. Here's the list:
Career WAR at Extension
Age at Extension
8 years, $158 million
5 years, $125 million
10 years, $157.5 million
10 years, $225 million
6 years, $100 million
8 years, $120 million
13 years, $325 million
Mookie Betts, Red Sox
35.2 (entering 2019)
In terms of WAR, no one was particularly close to Betts' current total when they signed their extension. Longoria is the only player who was within 13 WAR (!) of Betts. Also, hardware matters. Mookie has already won his MVP (and finished second in the voting one other time). Howard and Votto had their MVPs when they signed their extensions. Stanton and Cabrera (neither one) did not. That matters.
The Stanton deal is easily the largest extension for a player at Betts' service time level. It was theup until a few weeks ago. Betts has been the better player through the same point in his career and he has the MVP trophy to his credit. Also, helping his team win a World Series title doesn't hurt either. The Red Sox surely feel some pressure to get Betts locked up and that equals leverage for Mookie.
Realistically, there might not be a worse time for the Red Sox to sign Betts. He's coming off his best season and an MVP award, as well as a World Series title, and the Trout extension just raised the salary bar. Betts has all the leverage in the world right now. That said, the longer the Red Sox wait to sign him, the more it'll cost. The closer Betts gets to free agency, the more it'll cost them to keep him out of free agency.
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