If you have been hiding under a rock for the last couple of years, you may not have noticed that Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts has turned into one of the absolute best players in baseball. Since 2015, the lowest fWAR Betts has posted in any season is 4.8 and he just completed a 2018 season that is among the best in baseball history with a 10.4 fWAR mark while slashing .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases. In short, he has been insane.
He is also in just his second season of arbitration eligibility and was widely expected to get a very significant pay raise. However, the size of that raise was, well, record-breaking.
Mookie Betts settled with the Boston Red Sox at $20 million, league source familiar with the agreement tells ESPN. A huge number that sets a new standard for 4+ players. His number next year, if he doesn’t work out an extension, could be gargantuan.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 11, 2019
Betts’ $20 million sets the record for the most money given to a player in their second year of arbitration eligibility and sets a very interesting precedent going forward. With young studs in the game like Ronald Acuna Jr., Juan Soto, and Aaron Judge among others in the league, we could see some crazy arbitration figures in the coming years assuming that teams don’t sign such players to early extensions. Passan followed up his tweet with some context regarding Betts’ deal.
Some more context to this settlement. Betts is a second-time-eligible player. His $20 million salary is higher than every second- and third-time-eligible player and pitcher. Only fourth-time-eligible players who got that extra season as a Super 2 have exceeded $20 million.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 11, 2019
Suffice it to say, the Red Sox may want to sit down with Betts soon and talk about a contract extension, because the days of young stud players getting paid way, way less than they are worth in arbitration may very well be over and Betts is likely to get even pricier after the 2019 season.