The Red Sox saw Mookie Betts slide into home in the bottom of the ninth inning to win game 162 against the Baltimore Orioles. Sox fans were happy about it, but after there may have been a sense of sadness. That may be the final thing we see Mookie Betts do as a Red Sox player. There have been rumors swirling about Betts’ status for the 2020 season, and that’s because of what’s coming up for 2021. That will be the season that Mookie will be a free agent and take his talents anywhere in the majors.
Boston is looking to get under the luxury tax threshold essentially saying the team can bring the 2018 MVP and JD Martinez, who can opt out this offseason if they do financial gymnastics. Sox president Sam Kennedy said this during the team’s end of season press conference. “There is a way, but obviously it will be very difficult given the nature of the agreements and the contracts we have in place.”
I may certainly be in the minority, but the Sox may be able to trade Mookie Betts and be just fine. As a Celtics fan, I’m still scarred by the Kyrie contract issues. Betts won’t be another Kyrie but if next season is a repeat of this one for the Sox, it could be a missed opportunity. Betts can get you a haul of prospects which is what the Sox need, but IF the team signs what would be their cornerstone player there could be some problems on Jersey St.
Many baseball insiders say Mookie could sign a contract worth either side of a half billion dollars, thinking about that I decided to look at some other big contracts that may have sank or are sinking a franchise.
Mike Trout: 12 years/$430 million
The Angels outfielder has all of the talent in the world. Unfortunately for the Angels, he is also around a sixth of their annual payroll set to earn $36,000,000 a year. The halos haven’t ended a season above .500 since the 2014 season and since then Trout has been a top five or six paycheck for the team. He’s durable only playing under 130 games once since his rookie season (114 games in 2017). Unfortunately for the Angels, the “support” Trout was supposed to have in the lineup is old or injured. Shohei Ohtani who had Tommy John Surgery missed 56 games while Albert Pujols who signed a 10 year contract in 2011 worth $240 million has seen up and down years hitting 211 home runs and 746 runs batted in with a .257 batting average. The team can’t really go after free agents because they used their ridiculous amounts on Trout which could be a problem when the protection for Trout goes away.
Bryce Harper: 13 years/$330 million
The Phillies newest free agent acquisition signed a contract worth a ton of money. Harper hit 35 home runs in his debut season in the city of brotherly love, good enough for 12th in the National League to go along with 114 runs batted in which is 8th in the senior circuit. Where there is a problem is with his strikeouts. Harper struck out 114 times in 573 appearances which is 4th. While Mike Trout was dependable with his appearances in the lineup, Bryce Harper is the opposite. Only four times since he debuted in 2012, Harper appeared in more than 140 games. For an annual payment of $22-26 million the Phillies should be able to get more bang for their bucks.
David Price: 7 years/$217 million
Take a deep breath….this season Price was the definition of Jekyll and Hyde. Until the All-Star break Price was 7-2. After the break, Price went 0-3 with four of the starts featuring the man that holds all the cards pitching under 5 innings. The Red Sox still have three more seasons with Price and will pay him about $96 million. With Chris Sale recently signing a big contract extension during the season, Price and Sale will make a ridiculous amount of money that will make it difficult for the Red Sox, who are trying to cut the payroll to find another pitcher in free agency. Luckily, the team still has Eduardo Rodriguez but Price has proven he is the most reliable to be the least reliable. 2018 featured arguably his best year as a Sox pitcher with a 16-7 mark and 3.58 ERA, but he will be 34 going on 35 and set to eclipse the 2100 inning mark for his MLB career making his outlook very cloudy for the next three seasons.
The Angels, Phillies and Red Sox have these three big contracts and what is the common fact? None are playing in the month of October. It’s going to be interesting to see how high these contracts will get and what will happen to the team’s postseason hopes. Throw in players signing big contracts like Giancarlo Stanton with the Marlins, or Manny Machado with the Padres, and you can see these players along with Mookie Betts could leave teams mortgaging the future.
Or you could be the Mets and pay Bobby Bonilla for the next 20 years?
John Luck (@jluck_89)