Red Sox Totally Avoid Arbitration with Betts and Crew

AP Photo / Charles Krupa
Jeff Marval
Contributing Writer

**Updated following additional reports of players signing**

I believe I just heard a collective sigh of relief from Red Sox Nation as news broke Friday that the 2018 World Series Champions and the 2018 American League MVP have reached an agreement on his 2019 salary and therefore avoided arbitration.

The two sides have decided on a base salary of $20 million and included incentives of up to $400k.

Overall this can’t be seen as anything other that a big win for both sides. The Red Sox get to maintain the reigning league's best player and Mookie Betts is going to nearly double his salary and see his efforts rewarded, all while avoiding the incredibly stressful, uncomfortable and difficult arbitration process.

Last year the two sides disagreed to the difference of about 3 million dollars and then each needed to make their case to a three person panel about who had the correct value for Betts’ skill set.

Ultimately the Red Sox lost that case as the panel sided with Betts and he was paid the $10.5 million he asked for.

However, keep in mind that just because Betts’ asking price was justified by the MLB arbitrator...he still needed to sit there and listen to the Red Sox make their case by comparing him to Kris Bryant to avoid paying the extra $3 million.

With Mookie’s 2019 contract taken care of and a (hopefully) multi-year deal on the way the Red Sox will need to turn their attention to their other Arbitration Eligible players. According to Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports, of the original 12 who were headed towards a hearing, all are now signed. here are the remaining 6 who were late additions to Fridays deadline signing day:

Jackie Bradley Jr is in his 2nd arbitration eligible year and made $6.1 million. Admittedly his average was a little down this past year but Bradley is a premier center fielder in the spacious Fenway outfield who consistently makes highlight level plays and brought home the, much deserved, Gold Glove in 2018. Plus, who can forget his huge Grand Slam in game 3 of the ALCS?

Xander Bogaerts is in his 3rd arbitration year and made just over $7 million. The two time silver slugger winner has anchored the left side of the infield for the last 5 full seasons (he only had 18 games in 2013) and matched NBC Sports projections of $12 million for 2019.

Brock Holt is 3rd year arbitration eligible and made $2.2 million in 2018. The 1st player ever to hit for the cycle in a postseason game has served many roles over his time with the Red Sox but the Brockstar is still a fan favorite.

Sandy Leon is 2nd year arbitration eligible after making just under $2 million. The switch hitting catcher is in a difficult place. The crowded catching situation in Boston likely has a lot to do with why he was nearly heading to arbitration (Blake Swihart signed for 900k this morning) and the outcome could be a factor in trade situations for one of the 3 catchers on staff

Eduardo Rodriguez is hitting arbitration for the first time and made $2.3 million in 2018. The Red Sox have 4 other starters each making at least $15 million in 2019. Rodriguez has a ton of upside but will likely be the 5th guy in the rotation or might even be moved to the bullpen if necessary.

Matt Barnes is also in his first year of arbitration and made just $605k last year. The reliable 8th inning setup man and possible successor to the closing role will top 1 million for the first time in his career.

These guys all played significant roles in the 2018 season and each had personal and important contributions to claiming the World Series Title. It was incredibly important for the Red Sox to lock them up as they look to repeat as champions of baseball for the first time in franchise history.