With the constant stream of money being funneled to players recently in the MLB, big-time contracts are being handed out to any players who have been on the level of what a superstar is. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Mike Trout, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt have all been forced into a new tax bracket with their new deals recently, signaling a change in the importance of money in the league and how fast it is flowing.
For Mookie Betts, he could have been yet another member of this newly-extended club, as he was offered a new deal last offseason. However, betting on his future potential, Betts said no to an eight-year, $200 million deal with Boston and is content with playing out his arbitration years unless he receives a deal he cannot pass up.
Not signing this extension is two-fold for both Betts and the Red Sox, as it affects each party two different ways.
For Betts, this is the ultimate gamble on his health and production, as the wait could pan out and he could double if not triple his value on the open market. However, if injuries beset him and he is forced to become more of a situational player rather than a daily contributor, then the contract he could have signed looks like a large afterthought and something that he can never get close to.
As far as it concerns the Red Sox, this provides them with immediate flexibility as if Mookie Betts would have accepted that deal, he would be earning $25 million this season, and through arbitration, he is going to be on a $20 million deal in 2019. For a team that has troubles spreading cash throughout its entire roster and is one of the league’s highest payroll teams, any bit of money saved is helpful.
Betts will earn a long-term deal at some point during his playing days, and he may already be at that point. By betting on himself now, his future has the potential to be that much brighter and that much greener when he decides he is finally ready to sign a deal. While signing with the Red Sox for more years seems to be in the cards, Betts could always move onto greener pastures if that means the green is cash.
One of the franchise’s best players, Betts would be a monster of a loss for the Red Sox if he were to leave, so they are smart to want to engage in contract negotiations now. However, even with Betts not wanting to sign until he hits free agency, that does not mean all hope is lost for the Red Sox.
Betting on yourself is not a big-time move seen in the league, as most players are very comfortable taking the money that is being thrown at them now without asking any questions. However, Mookie Betts is smart to make this move, and hopefully, this forces players to consider this more as an option down the road when it comes to extension time.