Boston Red Sox

Every so often, Mookie Betts goes on such a hot streak that the question is impossible to ignore: what, exactly, is he worth now? And the right answer is … a lot.

But there’s another question that should concern you:

Specifically, are the Red Sox going to be able to keep him?

Say what you want about Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter. He can come off as an arrogant blowhard who is extremely uptight. But he knows baseball. Showalter recently called Betts “the best right fielder I’ve ever seen,” which may be hyperbole given that Bryce Harper is a Betts contemporary and plays a short drive from Showalter and the Orioles. But that’s not the point. Betts is a dynamic combination of talent who is above-average in each of the game’s five “tools,” which is to say that he really has no major holes.

Fact: over from 2015-2017, there were only three players in the game who totaled 70 home runs and 70 stolen bases: Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon … and Betts. Obviously, homers and steals and an elementary way to sift through players. But you get the idea. Speed and power are often mutually exclusive, and Mookie does both.

(Courtesy: baseball-reference.com) – Click to Enlarge

Now, if you wanted to refine the list further, you could add in defense. Goldschmidt and Betts have won multiple Gold Gloves while Blackmon hasn’t won any. So we’re down to Betts and one other player.

Now, of those three players, it is worth noting that Betts is the youngest at just 25 years of age. (Both Blackmon and Goldschmidt are in their 30s.) It is also worth noting that both are grossly underpaid – Blackmon currently in the second year of a five-year, $94 million contract and Goldschmidt in the final year of a laughable five-year, $32 million dollar deal. And while we’re at it, Betts has the lowest batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS of the three, though we’d be remiss if we failed to point out that he is still growing as a player and that both Blackmon and Goldschmidt play in hitter-friendly ballaparks.

All of those facts only reaffirms the truth that no players are ever perfect comparisons because there are an array of variables that skew any argument.

With Betts, there is only one real criticism of his abilities – and that concerns his size. He’s listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, which is probably a little on the conservative side. (He’s probably closer to 5-foot-10 and 185 or 190.) While Betts has proven durable to this point in his career, teams can mitigate him some – especially at Fenway Park – by pitching him to the outer half of the plate and using Fenway’s spacious right field against him.

Just the other night, Betts homered to the opposite-field in Toronto, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 victory. That said, don’t get too excited. Pay special attention to that “328” marker on the right field wall while noting that Betts has hit just four opposite-field home runs in his career, three of which have traveled 380 feet or less.

Why are we using 380 as a cutoff? Because, of course, that is the distance of the bullpens at Fenway. (Embed code here –

In the end, don’t misunderstand. If and when Betts hits the free agent market following the 2021 season, he’s going to make a fortune. Last spring, the Red Sox offered Betts – remember, he was 24 at the time – a five-year contract worth $100 million, an average of precisely $20 million a season. He said no. This spring, he happily refused to any overtures of an arbitration settlement, took the Sox to a hearing – and won. (He’s making $10.5 million.) Quite simply, Betts is going to crush it if he keeps playing as he is, and don’t be surprised if his salary doubles next year at this rate.

So what’s it going to take for him to sign? That is unclear. To this point, Betts seemingly has made it clear that he intends to hit the open market. Bet with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado set to hit the open market at the end of this season, the Red Sox’ might have had a chance last spring if they were willing to go to something like eight years and $200 million. (They basically came in at half that.) Betts laughed in their face, then had a disappointing season.

But this year? So far, Betts is mashing.

And make no mistake, the price is going up.

— By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

You can hear Mazz weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program, and from 6-7 p.m. on The Baseball Reporters. And you can get a closer look every Tuesday and Friday with the Behind The Seams blog. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.