Red Sox

Mike Trout's huge reported Angels extension gives Mookie Betts his blueprint

Mike Trout's huge reported Angels extension gives Mookie Betts his blueprint

We're still weeks away from meaningful baseball games, but Mookie Betts' projected value in free agency continues to rise.

The Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a gargantuan 12-year contract extension with outfielder Mike Trout worth more than $430 million total, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Tuesday.

That's an average annual salary of $35.8 million, smashing Zack Greinke's previous record of $34.4 million per year and making Trout the highest-paid player in baseball by both annual salary and total contract worth.

Trout and Betts, both former American League MVPs and generational talents, both were set to become free agents following the 2020 season and launch historic bidding wars for their services.

But the Angels reportedly got ahead of the game Tuesday -- and in the process set a target for Betts to shoot for in free agency.

We already knew the Boston Red Sox outfielder would be within his right asking for a deal north of $350 million after Bryce Harper's 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

With Trout re-upping the bar to $430 million, though, Betts can make a case to earn at least $400 million total or at least $35 million per year if he desires a shorter deal.

Why? Because even if you think Trout is the best player in baseball, you could argue Betts is right behind him: Both players have very similar career 162-game averages at the plate, while Betts has three Gold Gloves to Trout's zero.

The timing of Trout's reported extension is important, as well. Betts signed a one-year, $20 million extension with Boston in January during arbitration, but do the Red Sox try to follow the Angels' blueprint and lock up their superstar to a long-term deal either this season or next before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020?

If they don't, they'll have to compete on the open market for one of the best players in the game -- and put a Trout-like number on the table to convince Betts to stay in Boston.

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MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

With MLB players and owners struggling to come to terms on a return-to-play strategy for 2020, we're focusing on the actual players who will take the field when games eventually get back underway.

Over the next several weeks, NBC Sports Boston is counting down the Top 100 players for 2020. While our list won't include several aces who will definitely not play this season — Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, Luis Severino of the Yankees, and Chris Sale of the Red Sox — our countdown includes many other All-Stars.

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Red Sox closer Brandon Workman kicked off our list at No. 100, and our next group of 25 players included Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

As we continue our countdown and move into the Top 50, we find J.D. Martinez, who has broken out into a feared hitter after a slow start to his career. Released by the Astros before the 2014 season, he remade his approach, flourished with the Tigers and now has made back-to-back All-Star teams with the Sox. 

Now 32, he's an established veteran, but it's also possible the late bloomer is only early in his prime years. So where does he land on our Top 100?

Click here for Part 3 of our countdown of MLB's Top 100 players.

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

The NHL has announced a return-to-play strategy. The NBA could announce its plan as soon as Thursday after a Board of Governors vote.

And then there's Major League Baseball.

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MLB's first proposal was quickly shot down by the Players' Association, which submitted its own plan over the weekend. That's also expected to be immediately dismissed. And as the days tick by, the hopes for a 2020 season get dimmer. While there's still time to salvage a season, the lack of productive dialogue between the league and the MLBPA is getting discouraging.

Speaking on NBC Sports Network's "Lunch Talk Live" on Monday afternoon, Pedro Martinez voiced his frustration with the stalemate.

"I'm hoping that both sides actually stop thinking about their own good and start thinking about the fans," Martinez said. "I think this is a perfect time to have their baseball teams out there and try to have the people forget a little bit about what's going on. It's not only the pandemic, it's everything that's going on. People need something to actually do and find a way to relax. I hope that the Players' Association and MLB realize how important it is to bring some sort of relief to people."

Martinez is spot-on with the sentiment that sports returning would be a welcome respite from the news right now. But getting players back on the field is proving to be complicated, especially as the sides navigate the financials of a shorter season without revenue from tickets.

"The economics is the dark part of baseball. The business part of baseball is dirty. It's dark," Martinez told Tirico. "And I hope that they take into consideration who pays our salaries, what the people do for us, how important the people are, and forget about or at least bend your arm a little bit to find a middle ground for the negotiations.

Let's not be selfish about it. Let's think about the fans, let's think about the families that are home that want to at least watch a baseball game and distract themselves from all the things that are going on.

Ongoing disputes over money are reflecting horribly on the sport, and cancelling the entire 2020 season could do irreperable harm to a sport that has seen its popularity ebb in recent years.

Fans can only hope that the sides take Pedro's advice, and find some common ground — and do it quickly.