Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
If I owned the Red Sox and Mookie Betts asked for $500 million today to stay for the next 10 years, I’d hand over the check right now and feel like I got away with something. What do you think he ultimately gets, either from the Red Sox or – gulp – if he gets to free agency? More important, what’s the most you’d offer him? – Craig W.
Remember in the winter of 1986-87, when Andre Dawson hit free agency and couldn’t get a bite because, as we later found out, the owners had colluded? He ultimately told the Cubs to fill in the amount they’d pay him and he’d sign there. They ended up getting the 1987 National League Most Valuable Player for $500,000.
Well, this is the opposite scenario. We’re almost at the point where the Red Sox should hand Mookie a blank check and tell him to write as many zeros as he wants after the first digit. He’s 25 years old, plays an exceptional right field, runs the bases as well as anyone in the league, and is hitting .352 with a 1.108 OPS, both MLB-best numbers. He’s a great teammate and immensely rootable, the definition of a franchise player.
He’s also a bargain, at $10.5 million this year. He’s not a free agent until 2021, but there isn’t a player in baseball, save for maybe Mike Trout, that you’d rather have locked up for the foreseeable future.
Trout is signed through 2020 on a six-year, $144.5 million. He could get $50 million a year when he hits free agency. The highest-paid player this year in terms of annual salary is Clayton Kershaw, who makes $34 million. The largest contract in baseball history remains the 13-year, $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Marlins in 2014.
While free agent salaries seem to have stagnated – J.D. Martinez is a bargain of comical proportions at $110 million over five years – it’s hard to believe potential suitors will be conservative when Betts or Trout gets to free agency.
If Betts continues on this path, he’s going to be a $400 million player at least. I’d give him that today too, and if I’d watched a replay of that 13-pitch grand slam against the Jays before negotiating, I’d probably go higher. But for now, the line is drawn at $400 million.
But what do you guys think? What’s the maximum the Red Sox should offer Mookie Betts at this point? I’ll hear you in the comments.