Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels set a record-breaking deal yesterday as the two agreed on a new set of terms that is unlike anything that we’ve ever seen in American professional sports. The deal is worth $430 million over a 12-year span giving the once in a generation player an average annual salary that lands just under $36 million.
We’ve seen massive contract after massive contract signed this off-season between some of the current top players in the game and Trout frankly, blew them out of the water.
However, I doubt we’ll be seeing any deals exceed the astronomical limits that were set yesterday, and that includes the one that Red Sox right fielder, Mookie Betts, inevitably signs.
Trout, at 27-years-old, has amassed a career that has sparked the conversation that he could potentially be on the path to becoming one of, if not, the greatest ballplayer to ever live. Since debuting in 2011 at just 19-years-old, he’s pieced together a cool .307 batting average, and 240 home runs along with two American League MVPs.
Trout is on a pedestal that no other current major leaguer can touch. He’s the perfect all-around player between his elite fielding, ability to hit for power and average while maintaining a squeaky clean reputation.
But if there is someone in baseball who could come close to achieving what he has, it’s Red Sox right fielder and reigning American League MVP, Mookie Betts.
Betts and Trout were scheduled to hit the free agent market simultaneously following the 2020 season. If Trout held out and awaited his turn to hit the market, the speculation and anticipation for their signings would have ruled the off-season. Unless there was a significant drop in his play, it would have most likely been the waiting game for Betts as the 2021 season approached. The majority of fans and baseball professionals alike would acknowledge that while Betts is an astounding player, Trout is the clear benchmark and current king of the dirt diamond.
Trout would have inevitably signed a deal much like he did today that would have made the online blogs and Twitter world alike, explode. An extensive amount of years mixed with unbelievable money. And once that mark was set, it would have then been Betts’ turn to sign something close, but not equal to what Trout hypothetically received.
But regardless of the timing, that’s what happened here today.
With Trout signing his jaw-dropping contract that calculates out to about $98 thousand a day (WOW) we now know what Mookie Betts is just about worth.
With Mike Trout being the consensus best player in baseball and Betts being considered as the strong number two, wouldn’t it now make sense to give him a contract that is represented as such?
Quite frankly, the way I see it, nobody in this league equates to Trout and I don’t think anyone’s money should either. Not only for talent reasons but for the sanity of the league and its fans as well. The money is getting out of hand, and now that Trout has his number set, let’s try not to climb past that line, at least for the foreseeable future.
You can argue who the third best player in baseball is at this point. Whether it’s Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado or even Manny Machado. Whoever your choice may be, the one thing that they all have in common is that they all saw massive pay bumps this off-season with extensions and new deals. So, now that we have the players who sandwich Betts in the overall player rankings squared away, the parameters of his new deal appear pretty obvious, right?
Maybe we don’t exactly have the numbers, but with the length and lucrative nature of these new contract being unlike anything that we’ve ever seen before, I would be shocked if the Gold Glove right fielder and World Series Champion sees anything less than 10-years and $400 million.
Average annual salary-wise, that does defeat Trout’s record-breaking deal. But as far as total worth goes, the nod still would go to Trout, making him the man with the richest deal in the game.
Of course, this is all speculation, but why wouldn’t a deal like that make sense for a guy who will be commanding a contract that will only increase concession prices at Fenway Park if he were to stay put in Boston?
Now that leads us to the question; when? When would Betts sign this deal? Does it still make sense for him to wait it out until his free agent year? Or, if he would be willing to be a member of the Boston Red Sox for essentially his entire career, would he sign a contract now?
Let’s answer this. What would be the benefit to holding out and testing the market? Again, to reiterate the most important factor of this entire conversation, the number one man in the MLB has already set the tone. If he personally believes he could achieve a contract larger than what we saw yesterday, that would be the most pivotal factor in a decision like this. But in order for that to happen, I believe he’d have to put up legendary numbers over these next two seasons. The only other reason as to why he may not sign an extension now? He has another club in his sights and he does not want to call Fenway home long term.
Following the 2017 season, the Red Sox offered Betts a deal of 8-years and $200 million. This would have given him an AAS of $25 million. Betts elected to go to arbitration instead and brought home a 2018 salary of $10.5 million for 2018. Does Betts’ decision to deny the Red Sox offer signify that he doesn’t want to be apart of the team’s long-term plans? No.
It would have been an awful decision for Betts if he took the contract at that time. Knowing the talent that we knew he possessed following a runner up finish for the MVP voting in 2016–where he ultimately lost to Mike Trout–we knew his capability to earn more than what was put in front of him was conceivable. It was a contract that was much more short-sighted on Betts’ part if he were to have put his pen to the paper.
His decision to wait and see what others brought home, knowing that Harper, Machado, and Trout were all impending free agents, was the only choice to make.
Now as for the Red Sox? You offer Betts a deal prior to the start of this season. Again, the benchmark has been set and the players surrounding your best player in the rankings are signed and ready to begin 2019 in new cities. The deal is going to be something that will most likely make owner John Henry’s stomach turn, but the return on investment will be well worth it, at least to someone who writes about the team.
A 10-year contract is probably the minimum requirement if you want to get this deal done. After seeing a 12 and 13-year contract agreed upon, how could anything less than that be an option?
At 26-years-old, Betts has built a resume that causes teams to clamor for his services. After five years in the league, debuting in 2014, he currently sits on a .303 batting average and an .888 OPS. Not to mention, he’s a three-time Gold Glover, two-time Silver Slugger winner, and American League MVP.
If the Red Sox offer a deal that is anything remotely close to Trout’s and the Red Sox prized, homegrown possession denies it, that will smell like trouble. That will show me that he’s willing to test the market and really see what’s out there. Not just fiscally, but he might go see what other clubs, and cities, just simply have to offer.
Get ready for an anxious next couple of weeks. Because if the Red Sox want to get a deal done for Mookie Betts, now is the time to do it.
Today, Betts opened up about Trout’s contract extension and when asked whether or not he plans on entering this season without his own extension, he said, “That’s exactly what I expect.” per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. He also went on to further explain that he doesn’t expect anything to happen until he’s a free agent.
Does Betts expect to enter this year without a long-term deal? ‘That’s exactly what I expect. I don’t expect anything to happen till I’m a free agent.’
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) March 20, 2019
He also spoke on the Red Sox attempted extension offers and said that although he and the team have disagreed on what’s “fair”, it has not hurt his relationship with the team.
Mookie Betts says he loves it in Boston, would be a great place to spend his career, but recent extensions ‘don’t impact me that much.’ He wants what he feels is fair, and that he and the Sox have disagreed on what that is, but suggests that hasn’t hurt relationship w/team.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) March 20, 2019
These are worrisome quotes. Although he does go on to say that he loves it in Boston and that it would be a great place to spend his career, his unwillingness to work out an extension now concerns me for his future long term.
The possibility of an extension I believe is still there. However, in saying that he still plans to hit free agency, it gives the team absolutely no leverage on negotiations.