AL MVP Betts agrees to $20 million, 1-year deal with Red Sox
BOSTON (AP) — Mookie Betts keeps putting up big numbers.
The AL MVP and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox agreed to a $20 million, one-year contract Friday, a raise of $9.5 million that was for a few hours the highest for an arbitration-eligible player.
Betts was later surpassed by New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who got a raise from $7.4 million to $17 million.
The Red Sox reached deals with all nine players eligible for arbitration ahead of Friday’s scheduled swap of salary figures. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts got a $12 million contract and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. got $8.55 million.
After beating the Red Sox in arbitration last offseason, the 26-year-old Betts led the major leagues in batting average (.346) and slugging percentage (.640) and was second in on-base average (.438). He also had 84 extra-base hits, including 32 home runs, and stole 30 bases. The right fielder also won his third straight Gold Glove while making $10.5 million.
Betts can make more in award bonuses, including $100,000 each for AL MVP, World Series MVP and ALCS MVP, and $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star team or winning a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger award. He would get $75,000 for finishing second in the MVP vote and $50,000 for third.
Betts is eligible for free agency after the 2020 World Series.
All-purpose player Brock Holt ($3,575,000), pitchers Matt Barnes ($1.6 million), Eduardo Rodriguez ($4.3 million) and Brandon Workman ($1.15 million) and catchers Sandy Leon ($2,475,000) and Blake Swihart ($910,000) also reached agreements. Pitcher Steven Wright got a deal Thursday for $1,375,000.
Leon could earn $50,000 in performance bonuses for games at catcher: $25,000 each for 75 and 100. Rodriguez could earn $25,000 for 100 innings.
After posting a team-record 108 wins and romping to their fourth championship in 15 seasons, the Red Sox mostly stood pat during the early part of free agency, making their biggest noise when they re-signed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million contract.
Last season, Boston exceeded the luxury tax threshold and is on track to endure another tax and penalty in next June’s amateur draft. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said last month during the winter meetings that dropping below the highest surtax this year would be ideal, but not mandated.
Bogaerts hit .288 with 23 home runs last season and his 103 RBIs were second on the team behind only J.D. Martinez’s 130. He was also third in slugging percentage (.522) behind Betts (.640) and Martinez (.629). A 2016 All-Star, he made $7.05 million this past season.
Bradley had an up-and-down year, hitting just .234 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs during the regular season.
The 28-year-old came up big in the postseason, though, and was chosen the ALCS MVP despite hitting just .200 (3 for 15) in the best-of-seven series win over Houston. He was clutch with go-ahead hits in two Boston wins and game-sealing grand slam in another.
Bradley earned a Gold Glove for the first time in center field. He made $6.1 million.
Holt, 30, was Boston’s most-versatile utility infielder this season, hitting .277 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs. His biggest moment came in the playoffs when he became the first player in postseason history to hit for the cycle, sparking a 16-1 win at Yankee Stadium. He made $2.25 million in 2018.
Leon, 29, split time with Christian Vazquez behind the plate. He hit just .177 with five home runs and 22 RBIs. He made $1.95 million last season.
Swihart, 26, appeared in 82 games this past season. He hit .229 and had three home runs and 18 RBIs in his 207 plate appearances.
Rodriguez went 13-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 23 starts last season. The lefty spent six weeks on the disabled list from mid-July until September with a right ankle sprain. Despite not making a start since late September, he was called on to start Game 4 of the World Series after Eovaldi’s marathon relief appearance in an 18-inning loss in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.
Rodriguez was up to the challenge, pitching five scoreless innings and giving up only two hits. The 25-year-old made $2,375,000 last season.
Workman, a 29-year-old right-handed reliever, appeared in 43 games, going 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 41 1/3 innings. He made $835,000 last season.
Barnes, a 28-year-old righty, has spent his entire career in Boston and become a steady presence in the bullpen. He appeared in 62 games in 2018, striking out 96 with a 3.65 ERA in 61 2/3 innings. He made $305,000 last season.