There were two things that were practically guaranteed for Mookie Betts with how the Red Sox right fielder played last season. He was going to be named the AL MVP—which he was. When the season ended, he would also get a pretty hefty pay raise, which he now has.
It looks like he will be making $20 million next season. The amount makes him the sixth highest paid outfielder in baseball along with Royals left fielder Alex Gordon and Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward (also making $20 million next season).
— Mookie Betts (@mookiebetts) January 11, 2019
Reds outfielder Matt Kemp is the only right fielder currently scheduled to make more ($21.5 million).
Betts and the Red Sox had trouble with contract talks last year forcing them to go to arbitration. The Red Sox offered him $7.5 million, a significant raise from the $950,000 he made the year before. Betts ended up being awarded a salary of $10.5 million for last season.
With the kind of season Betts had, the tea had to know that Betts would have a great case for a big raise coming off an MVP-type season. So, rather than risk paying even more, they made Betts an offer he could live with before Friday’s deadline for teams to sign arbitration-eligible players.
This is only the second year Betts has been eligible for arbitration. His $20 million salary is a new record for players entering just their second or third year of eligibility (any position).
Mookie Betts’ 20M settlement is a record for a player in his 2nd year of arbitration
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 11, 2019
It is not surprising the team was willing to make him a generous offer rather than go to arbitration. Betts played a significant in the team winning 108 games during the regular season and the World Series. He hit .346, knocked in 129 RBIs, and had a .640 slugging percentage—all AL League bests. He also hit 32 home runs and on his third Gold Glove in four years.
His $9.5 million raise was an arbitration record at the time but was broken hours later when the Mets gave pitcher Jacob deGrom a $9.6 million raise. Assuming Betts doesn’t have a season-long slump in 2019, it’s a record he could very well top next season. It wouldn’t be shocking to see his number be someone in the $30 million range.