Besides the question of if/when the Red Sox will make a big move this winter and what it could be, the other portion of the offseason that has been hanging over the team for a few weeks has been finishing the arbitration process. This year, as you may recall, they had one player go to a trial to determine his 2018 salary. That player just so happened to be the best player on the team in Mookie Betts. The trial was on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we learned that the player came out on top.
mookie betts won his arb case— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 31, 2018
With the victory, Betts has set himself up for a big payday both this year and the next two seasons after. Betts and his agent asked for a salary of $10.5 million while the Red Sox countered with $7.5 million. It was unclear if Betts was going to be able to win this trial, not because he’s not worth it but because this is a process that doesn’t generally favor players like Betts who rely heavily on baserunning and defense for their value. He and his team were able to come out on top with their arguments, though, and as a result he now has the second-highest first-year arbitration salary in baseball history. The only player to top this was Kris Bryant, which also came this winter. The Cubs star will make $10.85 million in 2018.
The effects of this win for Betts will not only be felt in this season as he is set to make more than $2 million above MLB Trade Rumor’s projection, but also for years to come. Arbitration salaries are always based on incremental increases from the previous season, so this year has set a strong baseline for Betts moving forward. The team surely isn’t thrilled with this development, though it’s impossible to argue that the star outfielder is not worth much more than this on a year-to-year basis. Beyond the salary, the hope for the team has to be that setting this baseline will make the next two years of negotiations easier. There haven’t been any reports of Betts being particularly disgruntled with the team, so hopefully this trial went relatively smoothly and the two sides will be able to stay in good graces moving forward. The club needs to do everything in its power to keep Betts here for the long haul. In the meantime, Betts is getting paid and he deserves every penny.