By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Mike Trout has agreed to a record-setting contract extension with the Angels. And Mookie Betts should end up with something similar.
That ought to make the Red Sox sweat. Their superstar right fielder is the best player in baseball not named Trout and he has a case to take the crown. The reigning American League MVP stands to make just an obscene, incomprehensible amount of money by 2021 when he's set to his unrestricted free agency.
If he's not going to top 12 years and $430 million, which Trout is getting from the Angels, he'll land just under that bar.
Trout's extension, first reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan, is the richest contract in professional sports history. He topped Bryce Harper's 13-year pact with the Phillies by $100 million. World-class boxer Canelo Alvarez held the previous record, $365 million with streaming network DAZN. Until Trout blew by him like he's stealing home.
Could Betts possibly top that? Harper's deal now looks like the low end for what the Red Sox need to offer. At this point, 10 years and $300 million (which Manny Machado got with the Padres) is an insulting lowball that would be likened to the one sent to former Red Sox lefty Jon Lester. And you know what the Sox ended up having to do after that.
If the choice is to ship a historically heavy pile of money to Betts, or let him go before dumping it in the lap of another uncertainty-laden free agent? It's easy. They take door No. 1.
Betts has played like a generational talent in two of the past three seasons. At 26 years old, his best years could still be ahead of him. So the Red Sox better be prepared to build a Trout-like contract. If they're not, then they should think about moving on before he gets that deal elsewhere and they're left empty-handed.
But that last scenario shouldn't even be in the conversation right now. The priority should be to just pay the guy. There's no one in the Red Sox' system that looks even close to approaching Betts' level of talent or production over the next several years. The Sox have their stud. It's time to pay him like one.
It may not happen immediately. The Red Sox have two more seasons to iron something out. Betts himself might want to explore the open market before agreeing to anything. He could pull a Harper/Machado and easily last into 2021 spring training before deciding. But Trout's deal shows precisely where the Red Sox are going to have to approach in order to make Betts a Red Sox player for the rest of his career.
Whatever logo adorns his cap in 2021, Betts is certainly looking at some hefty paychecks.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].