Red Sox

First reaction to Mookie Betts, Red Sox avoiding arbitration with $27 million deal

First reaction to Mookie Betts, Red Sox avoiding arbitration with $27 million deal

Quick reactions to the news that the Red Sox and Mookie Betts have settled on a $27 million contract for 2020 and avoided arbitration...

-- While Betts will be handsomely paid, it feels like he could've squeezed the Red Sox for more if he really wanted to push. The $27 million tops Nolan Arenado's arbitration record of $26 million, but it's still less than the $27.7 million he was projected to earn via MLB Trade Rumors.

Considering Betts' status as a former MVP and four-time Gold Glover and All-Star, the Red Sox would've had a hard time defending a number lower than $27 million if Betts came in at $30 million. He traded maximum value for certainty.

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-- Along these lines, the last two years have punctured the idea that Betts intends to maximize every last dollar of value.

He settled for $20M last year and probably would've won more in arbitration then, too. We'll see if this translates to free agency, though the one area where Betts has remained steadfast is in his desire to hit the market.

-- That said, the fact that the sides were able to strike an agreement while avoiding a potentially acrimonious hearing at least signals a willingness to communicate and compromise. If this negotiation is the first real test of new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, it feels like he passed.

-- Of course, we're not done discussing Betts. The Dodgers are reportedly interested and the Red Sox still need to cut at least $20 million in payroll to drop below the luxury tax threshold of $208 million.

The fact that he's now locked in at $27 million for 2020 allows any trade negotiations to proceed without uncertainty. Had Betts and the Red Sox not agreed, any acquiring team would've inherited Boston's arbitration figure for a hearing, with a potential $5 million swing between winning and losing.

-- The impact of arbitration on long-term extensions is often overstated, as if the bad taste of a hearing can derail a negotiation two years later.

Any goodwill or bad will tends to dissipate long before it actually comes time to sign for the long haul or hit the market, as Red Sox fans might remember from the Pedro Martinez option extravaganza of 2003, when the team picked up his 2004 contract seven months early in the hopes that it might convince him to take less in an extension. He instead left for the Mets after the 2004 World Series.

So we don't want to lend too much significance to Betts signing a deal that qualifies as slightly team-friendly, but maybe we shouldn't close the door on his Red Sox career just yet, either.

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

SPRINGFIELD -- For five hours on Saturday morning at Winter Weekend, Red Sox players and coaches delivered basically the same message in regards to the 2018 cheating scandal: We're not at liberty to say anything until the league finishes its investigation.

And then J.D. Martinez stepped in front of the cameras.

The slugging DH, who earlier this offseason chose to remain in Boston rather than exercise an opt-out in his contract, minced no words when asked if the Red Sox did anything wrong during their championship 2018 season.

"You know, it sucks, to be honest with you," he said of the investigation. "It does suck. But you know what? I know I'm excited for the investigation to be over with just so that they can see that there was nothing going on here."

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So he believes the team is innocent of the charges that it used the replay room to steal opposing signs in real time?

"I believe that, yes," Martinez said.

And what gives Martinez this confidence, despite a report to the contrary in The Athletic claiming that the Red Sox stole signs?

"Because I was in there," he said. "I saw what was. . . . Straight up, everyone seems to forget that in 2017 and '16 this team was a really good team. This team won 93 games those two years and then we just got better."

Martinez spoke without hesitation, and also saluted departed manager Alex Cora, while offering some insight into why Cora decided to leave the team.

"Kind of heartbroken about it," he said. "I talked to him before and I understood his side of it. He didn't want to be a distraction going into the season. I know it was wearing on him and his family, so I obviously feel for him and I wish him the best. But I know he played a big, big role for our team and he was one of my favorites, if not my favorite manager that I've had. It's going to be tough."

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell would check a lot of the boxes the Red Sox would be looking for in their managerial search. The popular former Red Sox third baseman is a Cuban-American who speaks Spanish and English and is media-savvy as an analyst for the MLB Network. 

Still, there's one condition he has that will probably take Lowell out of the running. 

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The 2007 World Series MVP and 2018 inductee into the team's Hall of Fame has no managerial experience, but told WEEI's Rob Bradford in a text message, "I would love to if I knew it was just for a year and Cora was guaranteed to come back."

Alex Cora, a Red Sox teammate of Lowell's for three seasons (2006-08), was let go by on Tuesday after he was named as the central figure in Major League Baseball's investigation of sign-stealing by the Houston Astros when Cora was their bench coach in 2017. Cora is also alleged to have brought a similar system to Boston when he became manager before the 2018 season. MLB is continuing to investigate the allegations against the Red Sox and it will likely result in a suspension of one season or longer for Cora.

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a season by MLB and subsequently fired by Houston.

With Cora facing perhaps a longer punishment, or perhaps even a lifetime ban from baseball -- and from Red Sox ownership's telling silence when asked if Cora would ever manage in the majors again -- Lowell's plan of temporarily filling in until Cora's return isn't likely to fly.