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Friday, June 5, 2020

Why Mookie Betts avoiding arbitration with Red Sox could be beneficial

Mookie Betts

The Red Sox agreed to a record one-year contract with Mookie Betts on Friday to avoid having to go through the arbitration process, and many believe they will now either trade the star outfielder or let him walk as a free agent following the 2020 season. However, the fact that the two sides came to an agreement should be viewed as a positive for Boston’s chances of keeping Betts long term.

Betts and the Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $27 million deal. The previous record for an arbitration-eligible player was the $26 million Nolan Arenado got from the Colorado Rockies. the team later signed him to a long-term extension. Could the same happen with Betts in Boston? At the very least, that seems more likely now that the two sides avoided an arbitration hearing.

In an arbitration hearing, a player’s agent argues why his client deserves to be paid X amount. The team’s job is to counter that a player they supposedly want to keep on their roster is worth less, and that is where things get ugly. By not getting to that point, Betts and the Red Sox don’t have to air out any dirty laundry, so to speak.

Take, for example, the arbitration hearing Trevor Bauer had with the Cleveland Indians last year. The right-hander ended up being paid $13 million for the 2019 season, but the hearing damaged his relationship with the team. After Bauer won the hearing against the Indians for the second consecutive year, he unloaded on the team for what he called “character assassination.”

The Indians later traded Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds, and he said he was much happier after the move. While Cleveland probably couldn’t afford to keep Bauer anyway, it seemed like there was no salvaging the relationship after the arbitration mess.

Betts has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, and the Red Sox could still decide to go that route. Either way, agreeing to a record contract before arbitration eliminated the need for them to strap on the boxing gloves. That should be viewed as a win for Boston’s brass.

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