Red Sox

Where is Mookie Betts' market after Bryce Harper's reported mega-contract?

Where is Mookie Betts' market after Bryce Harper's reported mega-contract?

The final shoe of 2019 MLB free agency finally has dropped.

Bryce Harper reportedly agreed to a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, and it's a doozy: $330 million over 13 years with no opt-outs and a no-trade clause, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

To recap, here are the three massive contracts MLB players have signed or reportedly agreed to in the last week:

Manny Machado, San Diego Padres: 10 years, $300 million ($30 million per year)

Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: 8 years, $260 million ($32.5 million per year)

Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies: 13 years, $330 million ($25.4 million per year)

While Harper's reported deal has a (relatively) modest average annual value, it's the richest contract in MLB history based on total amount.

Boston Red Sox fans know where we're going with this: Mookie Betts is set to back up multiple Brinks trucks two years from now.

Betts will hit unrestricted free agency in 2021. And if a 26-year-old outfielder who hit .249 last season can fetch $330 million, how much is a 26-year-old outfielder who just won the American League MVP award worth?

Machado, Arenado and Harper boast better power numbers than Betts — each player topped 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2018 — but Betts isn't far behind in that department (87 home runs and 295 RBIs over the last three seasons).

He's also the most well-rounded player of the group, leading MLB in 2018 with a 10.9 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) while posting an MLB-best .346 batting average (97 points better than Harper's) and winning a third consecutive Gold Glove award in right field. Aside from Mike Trout, you could argue Betts is the best position player in baseball right now.

That's all to say Betts deserves to break Harper's record as baseball's highest-paid player. The three-time All-Star would be well within his right to start negotiations at $350 million for 10 years. If he seeks an even longer deal, Betts easily could become the first $400 million man in baseball.

Would Boston be the team offering Betts that record-breaking deal? The superstar outfielder seems committed to the Red Sox for now and is fresh off a World Series title. Sox ownership also seems committed to keeping its best player around. But the more Betts' price tag rises, the more uncertain his future could become.

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Dave Roberts says former Red Sox Mookie Betts 'loves' being a Dodger

Dave Roberts says former Red Sox Mookie Betts 'loves' being a Dodger

Are Dave Roberts' latest comments about Mookie Betts just wishful thinking or reality?

The Los Angeles Dodgers manager said some interesting things about his new right fielder on ESPN's "The Sedano Show" Monday, including that he knows how Betts feels about being in Dodger blue.

I think him being in spring training with us — the relationship I have with him personally, and I think some players too, and coaches — it feels like he’s already played a season with us, which is strange. … Mookie’s gotta do what’s best for him and his family once that time does present itself, but I know that he loves being a Dodger.

After just eight spring training games, Betts "loves" being a Dodger? It seems like a stretch, but maybe getting out of Boston was that much of a relief for the 27-year-old.

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With the 2020 season on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak, it's possible we never see Betts play a regular-season game for the Dodgers. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association agreed on a settlement that would let all pending free agents hit the open market if the coming season is canceled.

Betts, the 2018 American League MVP and World Series champion, likely will test free agency come 2021, and the Dodgers will have to pay a hefty price to keep him in L.A. 

If Dodgers ownership and team president Andrew Friedman decide to shell out the cash, then Betts will probably "love" being a Dodger even more. 

Chris Sale on MLB's proposal to play in Arizona: 'Going to be tough'

Chris Sale on MLB's proposal to play in Arizona: 'Going to be tough'

If MLB really wants to open the season next month in Arizona, Chris Sale expects that players will do their part to make it happen. One line that will be hard to cross, however, is spending four or five months without their families.

Speaking on a conference call on Tuesday to address his recent Tommy John surgery, Sale weighed in on the possibility of players leaving everything and everyone behind to sequester in the desert

"That's going to be a case by case issue," he said. "To answer your question, I think it's going to be tough. I don't know if I could look at my kids just through a screen for four or five months. The same things goes for my wife, not being able to be around her, that's a long time. But people have done it in harsh scenarios, I guess."

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Under one proposal, players would relocate to Arizona next month and the season would be played in spring training ballparks, as well as other sites around Phoenix. In order to minimize risk of infection, however, players would live in isolation, traveling only between hotels and ballparks.

"I think there's a lot of figuring out to do," Sale said. "I think there's a right way to do this, and I'm confident that Major League Baseball, the Players' Association, all the owners, all the teams and players, I think that we're going to be able to find a way to come together and iron this stuff out, and figure out a way that's safe and is going to please the masses. Whatever that is, I don't know."

Games would be played without fans, an experience Sale remembers from 2015, when Baltimore riots following the death of Freddie Gray forced the White Sox and Orioles to play in an empty Camden Yards.

"That was actually a really weird experience," Sale said. "It was definitely different. The game was much faster, I can tell you that, but it was a weird feeling having nobody in the stands. But hey — sometimes you've got to adapt. Sometimes you've got to do some things for the greater good of what's going on around you. That's the situation we were in. Is it ideal? I would say no. But at the same time, you have to be sensitive to your surroundings and what's going on. At the time, that's what it took with the safety of not only the players and the staff, coaches, umpires, everybody at the stadium, but people coming into the stadium as well. It just made the most sense moving forward playing the game.

"If that's what it takes, we've got to do it. Sports by no means is on as important a level as what's going on right now. We're in a pandemic. This is worldwide. It's taken 12 or 13 thousand people's lives. That's almost half the capacity in Fenway Park. That's wild. I think people have an outlet with sports. That's a way for them to escape reality sometimes. They just kind of decompress. I would love to be able to get back to that."

Sale hopes baseball can help provide the housebound with an escape.

"I think the sooner we can get back on the field and bring a little bit of levity to what's going on for people around the world, obviously in a safe way — we've got to dot all the I's and cross all the t's, we don't want to step on any boundaries, cross any lines — there's a right way to do this," he said. "We've definitely got to figure that out. But I think the sooner we get back out there across all major sports, the better off we're going to be."