Boston star right fielder Mookie Betts gambled on himself, and the current indicators are that he is going to financially benefit greatly from that decision.
Betts rejected an eight-year, $200 million extension proposal following the 2017 season, according to a source. A second source said the Red Sox have made several attempts at a long-term deal with Betts, but that the All-Star has been comfortable with the risks of going a year at a time in exchange for the reward that could come with patience.
And that reward seems to be coming into focus. Since turning down the eight-year offer, Betts has won the MVP and was central to a championship last year and just witnessed an offseason in which Manny Machado received $300 million, Bryce Harper $330 million and now Mike Trout $430 million.
So Betts very well may be looking at doubling that $200 million offer when he comes to free agency after the 2020 season. He was supposed to be the co-star in that market with Trout. But now with Trout on the brink of signing the largest contract in team sports history, Betts will either greatly outdo $200 million from the Red Sox to keep him from ever hitting free agency or have the top of the 2020-21 offseason market to himself.
The Red Sox, according to a source, made the eight-year offer following a 2017 season in which Betts finished sixth for AL MVP, but had a year significantly down from 2016, when he finished second. Following the rejection, Betts put together his best season in 2018 by leading the majors in batting (.346) and slugging (.640) while hitting 32 homers, stealing 30 bases and winning his third straight Gold Glove.
One reason Betts can incur risk is that by the time this season ends, he will already have made $32 million. That includes the $20 million he agreed on with the Red Sox for 2019, a record for a player in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
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