The Red Sox have avoided arbitration with outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Betts, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, will receive a record-setting $27MM for his final season of club control. Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe, meanwhile, tweets that Bradley will earn $11MM. Betts’ record payout comes in $700K shy of his $27.7MM projection from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, while Bradley’s $11MM salary is an exact match with his projection. The Boston organization also locked up righty Brandon Workman to a $3.5MM deal, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
Betts’ contract sets a record for an arbitration salary, topping previous record holder Nolan Arenado’s old mark by a full million dollars. He’ll head into his final season of club control as one of the more fascinating storylines in baseball; Red Sox ownership reportedly is intent on dipping south of the luxury tax, and while there’s been no indication that the team is definitively planning to move Betts this winter — much the opposite, as of late, in fact — they could find themselves in a trickier situation as the trade deadline approaches.
Boston could yet take another run at extending Betts, but the former AL MVP has been vocal and candid about his desire to test the open market once he accrues six years of Major League service. As such, the team’s previous efforts to hammer out a long-term deal have fallen flat.
It’s another case altogether with Bradley, who is also entering his final year of club control but is a much more plausible trade candidate. Moving him wouldn’t dip the Red Sox below the luxury line in one fell swoop, as moving Betts effectively would, but as the season draws nearer it’d be a surprise if Bradley’s name weren’t bandied about the rumor circuit to an extent. While his overall season numbers in 2019 weren’t particularly eye-catching, Bradley hit .252/.342/.504 over his final 422 plate appearances and has long been considered a standout defender. Given the lack of center field options available in free agency, he could yet hold appeal to a club looking for a short-term boost in center.