Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts is one of baseball’s brightest young stars, good enough that he’s received MVP votes in each of three full seasons and young enough that he’s just now entering salary arbitration.
While most teams and their young players settle on a salary to avoid going to an arbiter, that wasn’t the case with Betts and the Red Sox, whose respective arbitration filings had a wiiiiiide gap. Betts’ camp thought he was worth $10.5 million in 2018 but the Red Sox countered with $7.5 million.
The arbitration verdict came down Wednesday and it was a big KO for Betts’ camp. He got his $10.5 million, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Buster Olney of ESPN. After making $950,000 last season, Betts is now in for a raise of nearly $10 million in 2018 — it’s $9.55 million to be exact.
A big win for Mookie Betts in arbitration, at $10.5 million. Repped by Steve Veltman and Ed Cerulo of Legacy.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 31, 2018
According to MLB Trade Rumors, 24 arbitration eligible players are still without contracts with their teams for 2018, with Betts being the biggest name of the bunch. The decision Betts is a win on two fronts — both for him and for the MLB players in general.
Betts now has the second-highest payday for a first-year arbitration player. Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant settled earlier this winter with his team for $10.85M, which set a record previously owned by Ryan Howard’s $10 million.
Since Bryant and the Cubs settled before getting to arbitration, this also means — as pointed out by Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston — that Betts has set an arbitration record for a first-year player who went to a hearing. Howard also went to a hearing for a $3 million difference with the Phillies and won his case, but Betts’ salary will be higher.
Three million dollars isn’t even that much money in baseball terms — and certainly not for a team like the Red Sox. Even at $10.5 million, Betts is the Red Sox’s eighth-highest paid player.
Baseball pundits are also viewing the Betts victory as a much-needed boost for the collective unit of baseball players, since the free-agent market has been ice cold and many stories have circulated painting the players’ union as losing its battle with MLB.
Yep, it’s been a rough offseason for players so far. But Mookie Betts has a reason to smile. He just got a HUGE raise.
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