Betts tops list of 7 arbitration-eligible Red Sox

January 9th, 2020

Eyes are on the Red Sox as Friday’s 1 p.m. ET deadline for exchanging salary-arbitration figures nears. Mookie Betts has been at the center of offseason buzz, and he’s not the only player whose contract the club will have to address by then.

Outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi, starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and relievers Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree also are arbitration-eligible. Last year, the Red Sox settled with all eligible players on the day figures were due to be exchanged and did not go to arbitration.

Here's a look at the arbitration-eligible players and their projected 2020 salaries, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

The outfielders

Cot’s 2020 projection: $27.5 million

Where will Betts play in 2020 and beyond? Will the right fielder stay in Boston, get traded or explore the free-agent market after this season? These questions have surrounded the 27-year-old all winter. Not only is Betts in his final year of arbitration-eligibility, he also is entering the final season of his contract with the Red Sox. Settling with Betts before Friday’s deadline could be beneficial for the team if it is going to look to ink him to a long-term deal.

Betts and the Red Sox avoided arbitration in 2019, following his ‘18 American League MVP Award performance, when they agreed to a then-record $20 million deal. Betts is projected by Cot’s to surpass that figure, as well as Nolan Arenado’s current record for a player in his final year of arbitration-eligibility ($26 million). In January ‘18, Betts was awarded a $10.5 million salary in an arbitration hearing after Boston offered $7.5 million.

Last season, Betts hit .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs and an AL-leading 135 runs.

Cot’s 2020 projection: $11.5 million

What happens with Betts could impact Bradley, as the Red Sox look to keep their payroll below the $208 million luxury-tax threshold. If Betts stays in Boston, the team could explore trade possibilities for the center fielder. Bradley and the Red Sox settled at $8.55 million in 2019. Last season, the center fielder hit .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs, and he led the AL in putouts and assists at his position.

Cot’s 2020 projection: $4.25 million

At 25 years old, Benintendi is still experiencing Major League firsts. Arbitration-eligibility is one of them this year. Benintendi is projected to surpass the million-dollar salary mark -- and then some -- after earning $717,500 in 2019. The left fielder hit .266/.343/.431 with 13 home runs last year.

The pitchers

Cot’s 2020 projection: $9 million

Rodriguez is projected to earn more than twice his $4.3 million salary from 2019, when he went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA. He tied for the most starts (34) among all Major League pitchers in his standout season. While the left-hander is in his third year of arbitration-eligibility, he falls under the category of a Super Two player. This designation gives Rodriguez four years of arbitration-eligibility instead of three because of the service time he earned as a rookie in ‘15.

Cot’s 2020 projection: $3.25 million

Workman emerged as the Red Sox’s closer in the second half of last season, enjoying a career-best 10-1, 1.88 ERA performance, with 16 saves in 73 games. The righty is in his third (and final) year of arbitration. He earned $1.115 million in ‘19.

Cot’s 2020 projection: $3 million

Barnes is in his second year of arbitration-eligibility following a 2019 season in which he was 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA and four saves over 70 games. Barnes earned $1.6 million last year.

Cot’s 2020 projection: $1.5 million

Hembree was limited to 45 games last season (only 12 after the All-Star break) because of injuries to his right elbow. The setup man is in his second year of arbitration-eligibility, and he is projected to earn a slight raise from his $1.3 million salary in 2019.