McCarthy: It’s Time to Pay Mookie Betts

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

Newly-minted American League MVP Mookie Betts is going to be a very rich man in a few years.

The Red Sox shouldn’t wait around. They should make him a very rich man now. They should make him the highest-paid player in baseball.

Offering anything less wouldn’t get the deal done. Offering anything less would be an insult to Betts.

It’s time for the Red Sox to get serious about retaining their franchise player.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will reset the market this offseason. Machado is said to be looking for a $300 million contract this winter, and Harper reportedly already turned down $300 million from the Nationals.

Betts is a better player than both of them. Whatever Harper and Machado make, Betts should make more.

Pay up, Red Sox.

Oct 13, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) reacts after hitting a single during the first inning against the Houston Astros in game one of the 2018 ALCS playoff baseball series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The organization has failed to lock Betts up long-term, in part because they have not been willing to offer him a market-value deal. At this point, it’s fair to wonder whether they are willing to pay Betts what he is worth.

In 2017, the Sox reportedly offered Betts a five-year contract in the neighborhood of $100 million, according to Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal. Betts passed on the offer, knowing he could make two to three times as much in free agency.

Betts ended up playing 2017 on a $950,000 pre-arbitration deal after his contract was renewed by the team when the two sides could not come to a mutual agreement.

The contract disagreements between the right fielder and the club seemed escalate in 2018 when the Red Sox took Betts to salary arbitration in a squabble over $3 million. The Red Sox wanted to pay him $7.5 million. Betts wanted $10.5 million.

A three-judge panel rightfully sided with Betts.

In two years, the Red Sox won’t have arbitrators forcing them to pay Betts what he’s worth. They won’t have the luxury of floating below-market contract extensions to see if he’ll bite. They won’t be able to unilaterally renew Betts’ contract.

In two years, Betts will be a free agent and somebody else will pay him what he’s worth if the Red Sox don’t.

This is the offseason the Red Sox must act. If they don’t get serious about keeping Mookie Betts, then Betts will get serious about playing somewhere else.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub's own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.