Boston – Outfielder Mookie Betts agreed Friday to a $27 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, the largest one-year salary for an arbitration-eligible player.
Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. also agreed to an $11 million deal, ensuring Boston will avoid salary arbitration with two of its biggest stars.
Betts’ deal topped the $26 million agreement last winter for Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, which led to negotiations for a $260 million, eight-year deal.
A four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, Betts is eligible for free agency after this season.
He was voted the American League MVP in 2018, when he hit a major league-leading .346 with 32 homers and 80 RBIs, then helped the Red Sox to the World Series title. He hit .295 last season with 29 homers and 80 RBIs.
Bradley is known for his spectacular plays in the outfield, but his bat has been a liability at times. He is streaky, hitting .315 with five homers and 14 RBIs in June but just .225 for the season as a whole, with 21 homers and 62 RBIs. He led the league in putouts and assists as a center fielder.
Bryant gets $18.6M
Third baseman Kris Bryant avoided arbitration with the Chicago Cubs, agreeing Friday to an $18.6 million, one-year contract, according to multiple reports.
Bryant got a significant boost from the $12.9 million he earned last year.
Chicago also agreed to a $1,575,000, one-year contract with outfielder Albert Almora Jr.
The 2016 NL MVP, Bryant rebounded from an injury-filled season to bat .282 with 31 homers and 77 RBIs.
It remains unclear whether he will remain with the team he led to the 2016 World Series championship, the Cubs’ first title since 1908. Chicago’s thin minor league system, the prospects Bryant could bring back in a trade and the large contract the three-time All-Star would figure to command as a free agent have all thrown his future into question. He also has a pending grievance he filed in the hope of becoming a free agent one year earlier than scheduled.
The third baseman debuted on April 17, 2015, leaving him one day shy of the service time needed to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Bryant contends he was held in the minors in a deliberate effort to delay his free-agent eligibility and that delay violated baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
Lindor sidesteps arbitration
Shortstop Francisco Lindor avoided salary arbitration and agreed to a $17.5 million, one-year contract with the Cleveland Indians, who have so far rejected trade offers for the four-time All-Star.
Lindor received the second-largest one-year deal for a player in his second season of arbitration eligibility, only behind the $20 million Mookie Betts agreed to last year with Boston. Betts agreed to a $27 million, one-year contract with the Red Sox for 2020.
Lindor made $10.65 million last year.
The Indians also avoided arbitration with pitchers Mike Clevinger ($4.1 million) and Nick Wittgren ($1,125,000), and outfielders Tyler Naquin ($1.45 million) and Delino DeSheilds ($1,875,000).
Pair re-up with Dodgers
NL MVP Cody Bellinger agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the largest salary for a player eligible for arbitration for the first time.
Shortstop Corey Seager agreed to a $7.6 million, one-year deal with the Dodgers, also skipping arbitration.
Bellinger, the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year, hit .305 with 47 homers and 115 RBIs, a bargain at $605,000. With 2 years, 160 days of major league service, Bellinger is eligible for arbitration three more times and can become a free agent after the 2023 season.
Seager, the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year, missed most of the 2018 season following Tommy John surgery. He hit .272 with 19 homers and 87 RBIs this year, tying for the NL lead with 44 doubles. He earned a raise from a $4 million salary last year.