The echoes of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face race through the memory banks. The Patriots are in the AFC Championship, 55% less likely, according to odds makers, than the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. Almost as bad as the Patriots odds against the Falcons down 28-3. Gaga performed at halftime, and the rest was history. These were a fraction of the long odds the Red Sox were looking at resigning Mookie Betts a month ago. Then he signed with the Red Sox for $20 Million last week. Is this the turning point that Hightower’s sack of Matty Ice was?
Mookie Betts Contentious Arbitration Cases
It is well documented that Mookie has gone to the wall with the Red Sox in arbitration thus far. It has been trumpeted by Tony Massarotti, among many others, that the Sox have risked completely alienating Betts by going to arbitration after 2017.
In that case, Betts asked for $10.5 Million, and the Red Sox countered with $7.5 Million. Up to that point in history, only Kris Bryant and Ryan Howard had gotten more than $10 Million in their first year of eligibility for arbitration. They agreed before an arbitration hearing, and both had Rookie Of The Year and NL MVPs under their belts at the time. The Red Sox were most definitely looking at Mookie and saying to themselves “Hey, he hasn’t won any major awards, why give him $10.5 Million?”
Arbitration hearings can be contentious. The player is promoting themselves, while the team is tearing them down. A funny thing happened in this case. The Arbitrator sided with Betts, noting his Silver Slugger in 2016, his Gold Gloves in 2016 and 2017, and his MVP runner up in 2016. Hey, not everyone has to compete against Mike Trout.
A New Deal
But then the news came across the wire on January 11th of this year: Mookie Betts had agreed to one year contract with the Red Sox for $20 Million. This after an MVP season in 2018, when he put to bed all the worries that 2016 was a one year aberration. After a historic 105 win season and 11-3 postseason on the road to a World Series Championship.
The fact that the Red Sox have approached him with long term offers that he has rejected don’t seem so real now. His deal of $20 Million sets a record for players with only 4 years in the big leagues, but it’s still a bargain.
Mike Trout is simply the sickest player on the planet. He finished 2017 leading the majors in WAR for the 5th time. He’s played 7 years full years. If he retired tomorrow he would arguably sail into the Hall Of Fame on the first ballot. That’s the guy Mookie beat out for the 2018 AL MVP. Guess who beat Trout out for 2018 WAR lead? That’s right. Mookie Betts. In 2018 he lead the league in batting average at .346, hit 32 homers, stole 30 bases, and won another gold glove, among many other things. Yes, $20 million is a bargain.
The bars of Gaga’s A Million Reasons ring out:
” I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one to stay “
Sox fans have a reason to feel good. Because the Sox gave Mookie $20 Million reasons to stay, and by agreeing without going to the wall in arbitration they’ve opened the door to perhaps $300 Million more after 2019.
Is it Alex Cora and a culture of togetherness and support? Maybe it’s JD Martinez and his other teammates that he loves. Could be the joy of working in Fenway Park with all of us screaming his name. Whatever the reason, Mookie has opened the door to a long term deal.
Don’t screw this up Red Sox. And go Pats!