(Photo Credit: Masslive)
By Ted Gay – @TedG63
There are several baseball front office commandments that shall not be broken. Don’t give a multi-year contract to a pitcher over 30, don’t trade top 10 prospects for middle relievers, don’t hack into another team’s scouting reports, and don’t have one player take up a large percentage of your salary cap.
But there are exceptions to every rule. If you develop one of the best players of his generation, a five-tool stud with nothing but upside, you throw out the rules and sign him.
In short, it is time to pay Mookie Betts his money down.
When this year’s free agency season settles, and Bryce with the Good Hair and Manny with the Bad Attitude have set the market, the Red Sox should waste no time in making Mookie Betts the highest paid player in baseball, lock him down for five years, throw in some options, and enjoy having the game’s best player leading the team out of the dugout every night. Yes, this will drive them over the salary cap but there are times when teams need to go all in and signing Betts is one of them.
He has the potential to be this generation’s Willie Mays, a rare true five-tool player. If Rob Manfred is seeking someone to carry the MLB brand, they should look no further than Mookie. He is scandal free in a world that can sniff out inappropriate behavior back to middle school. He never scowls, is good with the fans, and the camera loves him. Great talent can be accompanied by a bad attitude. Mookie’s media presence gives him a sixth tool
The biggest argument against awarding Betts a mega-contract is that the Angels emptied the vault for Trout and had not won a playoff game since. The problem is not the amount of money the Angels paid Trout but the poor job they have done surrounding him.
From bad signings (Josh Hamilton 26.4 million a year, Albert Pujols 25 million a year, C.J. Wilson 20.5 million a year and Jared Weaver 20 million a year), young pitching injuries (Tommy John surgery for Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs and a knee injury to Garrett Richards), losing three number one draft picks for signing Hamilton, Pujols and Wilson; and sticking with Mike Scioscia despite years without a playoff victory. Players turn off the manager after hearing the same tune for years. Scioscia has been Angels manager four months longer than Bill Belichick had been Patriots head coach and people are questioning if the five-time Super Bowl-winning coach has overstayed his welcome. Scoiscia’s welcome wore out a long time ago. The Angels surrounded Trout with 100 million a year in bad contracts. There are few organizations who could have squandered Trout’s prime as the Angels have.
The Red Sox, by making Betts the game’s highest-paid player, may not have the money to pay a Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale, or Andrew Benintendi, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that they could retain two out of that three. They know what they have in talent and should not repeat the Angels’ mistake of handing out bad contracts.
Betts is more than just immense talent. The exuberance he has shown, after his grand slam against JA Happ and his game-winning home run Friday night is infectious. The players like and respect him. He has a David Ortiz leadership quality. It is easy to imagine Betts putting a team on his back the way Ortiz in 2013 and leading them to a championship.
It would be heart-wrenching to watch Betts do that with another team. It is time to open the vault and pay Betts what he is worth
100 years ago the Red Sox decided against retaining the best player of his generation. It took them 84 years to recover from that mistake.
None of us have that much time.
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