Mookie's arbitration deal sets record (source)

January 10th, 2020

The Red Sox avoided arbitration with in a record-setting manner.

The club agreed with the 2018 American League MVP Award winner to a $27 million deal, a source told's Mark Feinsand, for 2020 on Friday, breaking Nolan Arenado's year-old record $26 million for a player in his final year of arbitration eligibility. The Red Sox announced that they reached a deal with Betts, but they didn't disclose the salary number.

Betts has been at the center of offseason buzz as he enters the final year of his contract with the Red Sox. Questions speculating if he will stay in Boston, get traded or explore free agency after this season have swirled. But settling with Betts before Friday’s 1 p.m. ET deadline to exchange salary figures could be beneficial for the team if it is going to look to sign the 27-year-old to a long-term deal.

Betts' deal eclipses all of the previous highest salaries earned by arbitration-eligible players entering this offseason, listed below:

Nolan Arenado $26M (2019)
Josh Donaldson $23M (2018)
Bryce Harper $21.625M (2018)
Mookie Betts $20M (2019)
David Price $19.75M (2015)
Anthony Rendon $18.8M (2019)
Jacob deGrom $17M (2019)
Khris Davis $16.5M (2019)
Manny Machado $16M (2018)
José Abreu $16M (2019)

This is not the first time Betts has set a record during arbitration. Last January, he and the Red Sox agreed to a $20 million pact for 2019 -- a new watermark before Arenado’s one-uppance shortly thereafter. Both of Betts' settlements for these two years, however, are a different scenario from '18, when he was awarded a $10.5 million salary in an arbitration hearing after Boston offered $7.5 million.

A fifth-round Draft pick in 2011, Betts has played his entire career with Boston. This past season, he followed up his MVP campaign by hitting .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs while leading the Majors in runs scored (135) for the second straight year. Betts also won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove Award, due in part by topping the AL outfielders in putouts (320), posting an AL-best .996 fielding percentage for right fielders and ranking tied for 10th among all players with 15 Defensive Runs Saved.

Betts enters his seventh season in 2020 with a resume that includes three Silver Slugger Awards, the 2018 AL batting title, four All-Star selections and a World Series ring. He has a career slash line of .301/.374/.519 with a 134 OPS+.

The questions surrounding Betts’ future have impacted other Red Sox outfielders, as Boston looks to keep its payroll below the $208 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Center fielder , who has been in the mix as a trade candidate, settled with the team for $11 million, per a source.

Betts and Bradley were part of seven arbitration-eligible players for the Red Sox this offseason. The organization also settled with relievers ($3.5 million, per a source), ($3.1 million, per a source) and ($1.6125 million, per a source). and are the lone two to remain unsigned.