When it comes to the Boston Red Sox, we all know that they have some huge free agent decisions looming. Also clearly, they did not want those decisions in the hands of Dave Dombrowski.
The exiting President of Baseball Operations has made some interesting decisions on pitchers that has put the organization in a bit of a bind. Between David Price, Chris Sale, and Nathan Eovaldi, the Red Sox have over $80 million wrapped up for each of the next three seasons.
When it comes to Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have to resign him. Betts, who is set to become a free agent in 2021, has been one of the most consistent performers over the past handful of seasons. Additionally, combined with Xander Bogaerts, Betts solidifies what Boston is trying to with the offensive future. The better news is that Bogaerts, who is the second shortstop ever to have a 50-double, 30-home run season, is under control through 2025 at a friendly $20 million per season.
Rafael Devers is still under pre-arbitration next season and then arbitration control through 2023. Andrew Benintendi still has arbitration control through 2022. Michael Chavis had a nice 2019 season before it ended with an injury. There are some nice fielding prospects coming up the pipeline. With a young core, Boston is able to give Betts a huge deal and still have some financial flexibility.
However, back to Betts’ value on the field. He has been to four All-Star games in a row. He has won three Gold Gloves in a row. Betts has been a Silver Slugger two of the last three seasons. He has won an American League MVP and finished second another season. Additionally, he has been durable, playing in at least 145 games in five of the last six seasons. The only season he did not was the MVP season last year.
In just six seasons, Betts is a 41.7 WAR player, which puts him 25th among active players. His career .893 OPS is 11th among active players. He is always near the top in the American League in runs scored. Betts has been second or third in all of his full Major League seasons in doubles. He has been a 20-20 player every full season, but has 15 steals this season. He was a 30-30 player in 2018. On the other side of the ball, his Defensive WAR of 10.5 is already 20th among active players.
While the skepticism to sign any player to a huge deal when there are some large numbers on the books is understandable, Betts is the type of complete player that just doesn’t grow in trees. If resigning him makes a couple of others expendable, that just has to happen.
Betts is the type of complete player that you build a franchise around. Even if that makes some players like J.D. Martinez nonessential. The first decision of the new regime has to be to build around Betts and make him the franchise player. If not, he will be the face of another franchise and make the Red Sox pay for years.