January 29, 2020

Report: After 2018, The Red Sox Offered Mookie 10/300. He Countered With 12/420. That Does Not Bode Well For Betts Playing His Entire Career In Boston.

In his first three major league seasons, Mookie Betts earned $254,098, $514,500, and $566,000.

After 2016: The Red Sox offered 5-year/$100 million. Betts said no, earned $950,000 in 2017.

After 2017: The Red Sox offered 8-year/$200 million. Betts said no, went to arbitration and earned $10.5 million in 2018.

After 2018: The Red Sox offered 10-year/$300 million. Betts countered with 12 years/$420 million. The Red Sox and Betts avoided arbitration, agreeing to $20 million for 2019.

After 2019: The Red Sox and Betts avoided arbitration, agreeing to $27 million for 2020.

In a nutshell:
2014 - $   254,098
2015 - $   514,500
2016 - $   566,000   Red Sox offered 5/100. Betts said no.
2017 - $   950,000   Red Sox offered 8/200. Betts said no.
2018 - $10,500,000   Red Sox offered 10/300. Betts said no, countered with 12/420. 
2019 - $20,100,000   (No talks?)
2020 - $27,000,000   (Free agency?)

Betts's counteroffer of 12/420 was reported by Lou Merloni of WEEI.
They can't get it done. They know they can't get it done. When you go to a guy for three years in a row and you're off by almost $100 million -- in one instance over $100 million -- they know they can't sign him.
That 12/420 proposal is slightly less than Mike Trout's 12/430 contract, but higher than Bryce Harper's 13/330 deal.

Why was this news leaked to Merloni, of all the people in the media? I worry that letting Red Sox fans know Betts wants 12/420 is the first shot in the public relations battle that will break out if/when Betts is traded before spring training.

I love Mookie and the Red Sox have the money*, but 12 years is a seriously long time. I honestly cannot see any positive in the team tying itself to a $35 million/year contract until 2032. Betts will turn 40 during that year's postseason (October 7).

*: Before the 2019 season, the Red Sox were valued at $3.2 billion, which represented a 742% increase over the $380 million purchase price paid by John Henry and his partners in 2002.

John Tomase, NBC Sports:
If Mookie Betts and the Red Sox are really $100 million apart, then the Red Sox should stop pretending he has a future in Boston and trade him right now. ...

Keeping him in the hope that he suddenly agrees to an extension when he has never been closer to hitting the open market feels like a denial of reality. ...

The alternative is keeping him until the trade deadline, letting this story hang over both player and organization through July, and then being unable to pull the trigger because the team clings to the periphery of the postseason race, at which point the Red Sox are left with basically nothing.

Trading Betts now doesn't even preclude the possibility of him signing long-term ... Nothing would stop them from making a massive offer next winter and trying to bring him back ...

That said, if the Red Sox trade Betts, I suspect it would be forever, and there's a case to be made for that, too. Ten- or 12-year deals are generally bad business, no matter how talented the player, because there are too many ways they can sour [Pujols, Cano, Cabrera]
Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
For much of the winter, I was convinced that Mookie Betts would be in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day.

Now, I'm not so sure.

I believed that the Sox would hold onto Betts — at least to start the year. I thought they might make one more (public) offer on a contract extension, and then re-assess where they stood in July at the trade deadline. I found it hard to believe that, coming off a disappointing season, the team would effectively wave the white flag on the 2020 season by trading away its best player.

Now, I'm not so sure.

Spring training is just two weeks away, and yet talk of a Betts deal is heating up. Talks are ongoing with both the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Arizona Diamondbacks perhaps on the periphery. It's probably not a coincidence that the teams are all housed in the same division. That way, the Red Sox can create some leverage.
Jon Heyman, Twitter, January 28:
Sense is that Red Sox seem more serious than ever about a Mookie Betts deal, and rivals are starting to think a trade may happen. Dodgers and Padres are teams most often publicly linked though no sense yet who may be most likely.
RedSoxStats, Twitter, January 29:
On MLB Network Rosenthal says Padres are in, Dodgers are in, Padres are pushing the hardest but the Dodgers can do it the cleanest.
"If I had to guess I believe he is going to be traded. I wouldn't have said that a week ago."
Buster Olney, Twitter, January 29:
["How likely do you think the Dodgers are to get Betts, 1 being no way-10 being it's a lock"]
SoSH is having an interesting discussion. Here are some posts that align with the various things I am thinking.
Rough Carrigan
In the span of about three years he's gone from being truly great as a defensive right fielder to one of the top 3 in the league. That's a significant decline and it's the reason why I wouldn't give him that kind of contract. He doesn't walk quite enough, hasn't been very good in the postseason and wasn't in the top 10 in OPS+ in the AL this last year. It's kind of unfair to complain about that but when you want a top of the game contract it becomes somewhat reasonable. The last four years he's been in the top 10 in the AL once, when he was second to Mike Trout in 2018. The standards for justifying a top of the game contract are tough and I guess I fall on the side of thinking that he hasn't justified it.
This is where I fall. I calculated his OPS+ and wOBA from 2016-2019 the other day and he ranks somewhere in the 13-15 range. That's very good especially with his defense. But it's not worth the 2nd highest contract to Trout or anywhere within 10% of it ...
wOBA, 2016-2019
Mike Trout        .434​
J.D. Martinez     .406​
Aaron Judge       .397​
Juan Soto         .393​
Christian Yelich  .392​
Freddie Freeman   .392​
Nolan Arenado     .391​
Charlie Blackmon  .391​
Joey Votto        .388​
Josh Donaldson    .387​
Kris Bryant       .386​
Mookie Betts      .385​
Nelson Cruz       .385​
wRC+ 2016-2019
Mike Trout         180​
J.D. Martinez      154​
Aaron Judge        152​
Christian Yelich   147​
Nelson Cruz        147​
Jose Altuve        147​
Alex Bregman       146​
Freddie Freeman    144​
Juan Soto          143​
Josh Donaldson     143​
Kris Bryant        140​
Cody Bellinger     140​
Joey Votto         139​
Mookie Betts       139​
Justin Turner      139​
Oil Can Dan
If the report is true, I don't blame Mookie for asking for that. Certainly within his rights, and maybe he gets it. But the Red Sox should not agree to any deal that extends to 2032. That's crazy talk and they'd be assuming way more risk than is responsible. That sort of deal for that length at that sort of financial commitment is a franchise killer.
Rough Carrigan
According to the fielding bible, Mookie's defensive decline over the last 3 years from truly great in 2016 at 32 runs saved, and 2017 31 runs saved to 2018 at 20 runs saved to 2019 15 runs saved. The first 3 of those years he ranked as first in MLB. Last year he ranked third behind Bellinger and Judge. That's a loss of half his extra defensive value. If true that's a big deal.
Smiling Joe Hesketh
Mookie's much better than all those guys and they should keep him under any circumstances. 10/300 is what Machado got; Mookie's WAR is much much higher and he doesn't have the reputation of a laggard that Machado had. SD is also exponentially poorer than Boston; offering Mookie the same deal as Machado shows that the Sox are not seriously interested in retaining his services.

They have the money. They're one of the richest clubs in baseball. That they're choosing not to spend it to retain a homegrown superstar who should be the face of their organization for years to come speaks volumes about the priorities of this ownership group at the current time.

If he leaves the team will be substantially worse. They will get killed on the field and in the NESN ratings, and the owners will lose money that way. But hey those draft picks make up for all. ...

This is not letting Johnny Damon leave when they've got options ready and Damon's already past his prime; this is letting a top 5 player in the game leave at the peak of his powers.

At some point you have to decide what's more important, putting a good team on the field or acting like the Pirates. The sudden urge to get under the luxury tax just as their best player is up for a new deal stinks to high heavens. ...

Mookie is infinitely better than Machado. He's better than Harper, who got 12/330. You can't offer 10/300 and expect anything more than being laughed out of the room. ...

JWH is a billionaire and the Sox are the second or third most valuable MLB franchise. Of course they can afford to pay Mookie without any negative impact on the rest of the team. They are swimming in money. They are simply choosing not to pay him his fair value. That's their choice, but it will cost them dearly. ...

I'm saying they should offer 10/400 now. Today, right now. Call him up and make that offer. That's a fair deal, and Mookie might actually accept it. ... They'll never do it, of course. They're going to let him walk or trade him and then cry poor about it later, like they've done with so many other players. I'm resigned to this. These are the same guys who offered Lester 5/70. They've learned nothing.
I'm all in on giving Mookie whatever the max market deal he could get is. At some point, the Red Sox are going to have to step-up to the big boy table and offer one of these massive new deals to a player, and there is unlikely to ever be a better option than a player like Mookie. Your point about acting like the Pirates is true, the Red Sox are either a rich club willing to spend money the way the Angles, Philly or the Yankees have so far, or they are not. ...

I don't have a problem at all giving Mookie a deal for 10+ years; if you want to get MVP-level production from a player in their prime, that is the cost of doing business. If Mookie is 36 years old, making $35 million and a 1.0 WAR player, I'm totally okay with that, provided that for 5-8 years before that, he was a 7-10 WAR player. I want the Red Sox to pay for one of the best players in baseball, and the reality is that if you want that, you need to pay for a little bit of insurance on the back end.

The idea that the Red Sox might trade him and then re-sign him next off-season...I mean get that weak shit out of here. That reeks of doomsday prepping for the inevitable backlash fans would give the Sox if they trade him right now. We already went down this road with Lester ...

I'm not going to say I'm going to stop rooting for the team if they trade Mookie, but if they expect me to continue to pay escalating ticket prices, $12 for a beer and $7 for a hot dog, and not be annoyed when the second I step into Fenway some teenager with a camera is trying to sell me a $25 photo of my "experience at Fenway Park", that is going to be a tough, tough sell.
I'm on team SJH. I think it comes down to whether you think Mookie is a generational franchise impact player, and I happen to think so. When you look at all the dumb overpays that the Red Sox have made in the last decade, this one doesn't smell like an overpay to me, and the stats don't suggest it would be either. It seems the Red Sox ownership swings drastically in both directions, and a year from now when Mookie is long gone, they'll swing in the other direction and overspend on talent that will not equal Mookie's numbers. Call it the 2021 mystery Mookie replacement, and in a decade we can compare the stats of future HoF Mookie vs mystery replacement.

Pay the man.
John Marzano Olympic Hero
This is the take right here and it lines up with what Bill Veeck said about teams don't go broke over paying the superstars, they go broke over paying the mediocre players. If you know that your generational superstar is coming up for a big-time contract, you don't back up the Brinks truck for Nathan Eovaldi. You don't give a bunch of cash to a person who has wilted in August and September like Chris Sale. You take that money and sock it away for Betts.

I'm pretty much sure that Betts is going to get traded and I'm coming to grips with it. What I'm not going to ever understand is how the Sox could be like a poet on pay day when it came to spending money in the spring and then turning into Mr. Burns and announcing that they're cutting back on payroll in the fall? I do get that there was a big change in the front office during those six months, but everything still runs through John Henry, no?

And the reported players in exchange for Betts aren't going to be good. They may as well go the full nine yards and just sell him to the Padres or Dodgers. GTFOH with these fifth and sixth-ranked players and Wil Myers or Joc Pederson. ...

I like watching Mookie Betts play, I don't think that there has been a better homegrown player to come through the Red Sox system since Yaz. He is one of the players that I will stop what I'm doing and watch his at bats, even when the team is 19 games behind the Yankees. If you think that it's a good idea to trade a player like that for virtually nothing, cool. I disagree. I also think that it's dumb for the Red Sox to give a ton of money to Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale in November and March, then cry poor six months later.

Not only that, but to portray the Boston Red Sox as needing to stick to some sort of imaginary budget a few weeks before Forbes listed the worth of MLB franchises (the Red Sox are in the top two or three) and the team announced an increase in ticket sales.

So yeah, excuse me for ... not being excited to watch Wil Myers stumble his way around right field.
I don't think you can blame the owners here, SJH. They've put their best foot forward in trying to buy out Betts' arbitration years and it seems like he is dead set on testing the open market. I don't think you want them bidding against themselves and give him $420 million when they don't really have to at this point. The FO has to make a choice: do you want to be above the tax and incur these penalties no matter what? If they do, then keep him but any contract you sign Betts to is going to have a huge tax bill attached to it. If Betts isn't signing now for any team, why not get under the tax this year with as much of a chance to re-sign him at the end of the year as if you would if he was here? Believe me, I was where you were for most of the offseason. I couldn't stomach to trade him because he's a great, great player in his prime. But, as I am reading all the facts it simply makes financial sense to trade him now, get as much as you can for him, and do what you need to do to get under the tax. If he leaves after the year, they'd get a mid-round pick for him which would be cancelled out with a mid-round pick they'd lose as an over-the-last-tax-threshold team. They lived above the tax and got a World Series for their troubles. It's time to reset and get ready for the next run. That run could still include Betts going forward whether you trade him or not. If it doesn't, the FA class after the 2021 season should be filled with a lot of franchise-type players.
John Marzano Olympic Hero
I think that in a sense you're right, Babe Ruth left the Red Sox. As did Fred Lynn, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Manny, Pedro, Nomar and Mo. Ted Williams, Yaz and David Ortiz all retired. And yes, the Boston Red Sox still play baseball in Fenway Park year in and year out.

I get the bottom line. I get the luxury tax implications. I get, deep down, that it's probably the right move to send him away. But I don't have to like it. And the reason why I don't like it is because I don't think that the 2020 Boston Red Sox are a better team without Mookie Betts. The Ewing Theory doesn't exist and teams that trade a superstar for nothing special don't normally do better without that star player. Will I watch a middling Red Sox team? Of course I will. I've watched 100+ Red Sox games every year from 1986 until today. I'm not going to turn in my Red Sox hat because they got rid of Mookie Betts. But it's a much more pleasurable experience to watch a good team with good players and not a lot of financial flexibility than watching a .500 team without their best player but a lot of room to throw around money in a year.

And honestly, if they are are worried about their financial future; just blow the team up today. If you trade Mookie Betts, you don't need a $20+ million DH, get rid of JBJ, Eovaldi and Price and Sale. Just bottom out and quit dicking around with half-measures. Build around Devers, Benintendi and Bogaerts. It might take longer, but just rip the damn band-aid off.

The one thing that I would caution the Red Sox on is that right now, Boston is a football town and the Red Sox are the number two team in the region, by a lot. ... If the Red Sox ever want to be the number one team in town again, I don't think that it behooves them to trade the one player that could take Tom Brady's crown. This is not a Helen Lovejoy lament, but there are a lot of kids who are into the Red Sox because of Mookie Betts. And while you don't make moves specifically to garner future fans, a move like this could torpedo the team's status. Especially considering that baseball (and other teams sports) is losing the young fan to other things. Don't give them a reason to turn the game off, because that may not impact the bottom line today, but it will eventually.
I *want* to root for Mookie on the Red Sox. I will be disappointed if I cannot.
However, I am, and will always be, a Red Sox fan.


Rizz said...

Don't let Mookie go!!! Don't make any sense letting your best player walk. It sucks they going into cheap mode. Not to many players as electrifying and enjoyable to watch than Mookie. Life long fan I'm 50 years old and I love putting on nesn and watching in my opinion the best player in baseball.

allan said...

In that SoSH thread, there is a poll:
Would you give Mookie a 12 years, $420 million contract?
Yes: 77 votes - 19.4%
No: 319 votes - 80.6%
(Total votes: 396)

I voted No.

Unknown said...

I love Mookie but it's just to much. I really hope the Dodgers or Padras come through with a decent deal.

allan said...

It is. But it's also only a counteroffer. It's Mookie's dream contract and any negotiations are bound to cut off years and dollars. The question is how much? All the way down to the team's last offer of 10/300? That seems unlikely.

I saw a suggestion of cutting everything in half: 6/210. I'd be happy with that, but Mookie probably would not want to hit the open market again at age 34. He wants this to be the last contract he ever signs. But will any team agree to 12 years?

allan said...

Andy McCullough, The Athletic, January 30:

In recent days, though, dialogue with Boston has approached a resolution on Betts.

The Dodgers lack interest in parting with elite prospects like [Gavin] Lux or pitcher Dustin May. But their organization features a plethora of other options — from big-league assets like Enrique Hern├índez and Chris Taylor to up-and-coming performers like outfielder Alex Verdugo and pitcher Tony Gonsolin to farmhands like catching prospect Keibert Ruiz or pitching prospect Josiah Gray — from which [Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim] Bloom could build a reasonable package for Betts. The discussions, though, are more complicated than that.

One scenario being discussed would involve former American League Cy Young award winner David Price. Price, 34, is still owed $96 million over the next three seasons. He logged only 107.1 innings with a 4.28 ERA in 2019. Despite their financial flexibility, the Dodgers are likely to balk at absorbing the entirety of Price's contract. Two rival executives say they would not value Price at more than $15 million per season. The Dodgers are not incentivized to take on Price's money just to land Betts. ...

Betts would make the Dodgers better. He is a special talent. And they can also win a championship without him. That understanding informs all of the discussions involving Betts, especially if Boston insists on foisting another expensive contract onto the acquiring team.


allan said...

SoSH, Thursday afternoon: "Aside from the Mookie talk, Olney mentioned that he heard MLB had something new on the Red Sox wrt to the cheating scandals but was vague on how significant and how it could affect the punishment."

allan said...

Alex Speier's latest.
--He says in recent days, the view of the future of Betts in the organization has shifted. His sources say it's likelier than not that he gets traded, potentially in the near future.
--It's a two team race between SD and LA, moreso LA.
--They need to do something before Feb. 11 to avoid a mess in ST.
--They've been pessimistic about signing him long-term for a while now.
--Sources say there is a wide enough gap in negotiations that it's difficult to imagine bridging that gap outside the context of free agency.
--Talks with SD and LA have centered around a major league outfielder. SD is open to discussing any OF besides Pham and Grisham. Margot and Naylor are the targets with SD. Quantrill, Lucchesi, and Campusano are also in play. The 35th overall pick is in play as well but only if they take Wil Myers back.
--With LA, talks have centered around Verdugo and multiple top prospects not named May or Lux. They've discussed Price, but the Dodgers would only pay a fraction of the cost of his contract which would compromise the amount of prospects they get back in return.
--Speier sees them not standing pat with Betts because of their stated desire to cut payroll and them saying it would be very difficult to retain both Betts and JD long-term.