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Mike Trout saga makes for Mookie Betts reality check(s)

Rob Bradford
September 11, 2018 - 11:36 am

It's a conversation most are averting their attention away from: Mookie Betts' financial future.

Prior to the last few days, the latest reminder regarding what it will take to keep Betts around beyond the 2020 season came at the All-Star Game when the subject of Bryce Harper's impending free agency came up.

"I’m really curious to see how it’s going to play out," Betts said of Harper's market. "We’ll see what kind of records he breaks. We all know what kind of player he is. I think that may affect some things going forward."

He then added when asked if he was paying attention to his contemporaries' potential paydays. "Definitely. Things kind of come full circle now. My peers are going through what is soon to come. I’ll definitely be locked in to see what they get."

Last week another flare was thrown up courtesy Mike Trout's existence.

According to The Athletic, the Angels want to approach Trout about a contract extension this coming offseason despite the fact he can't become a free agent until after the 2020 season. Part of the impetus behind such an approach is to gauge whether or not Los Angeles might need to explore a trade of the transcendent outfielder as his chance to hit the open market draws closer.

Sure, Betts can monitor the likes of Harper and Manny Machado throughout this coming offseason, but the Trout scenario is probably the most worthy of attention.

The 25-year-old Betts, who is just about a year younger than Trout, has two more years of arbitration-eligibility after this season, having already won a record-setting $10.5 million settlement last offseason. While the Red Sox have attempted to extend his deal in prior offseasons, the outfielder has chosen the route of banking on himself, which includes not talking contract during the season.

Make no mistake about it, Betts is keeping the closest eye on Trout.

If an agreement is made between Trout and the Angels then Betts has his comparable. Sure, many will point to the Los Angeles' outfielder's longer track record and history-making Wins Above Replacement. Well, right now it is Betts who leads all of baseball in WAR (9.7), with Trout sitting at No. 4 (8.6). It's just a reminder of how things might be trending toward the end of that 2020 season. And, once again, we're talking about potentially hitting that free agent class after 2020 with just as much on-field momentum while being born in 1992 instead of 1991.

With all of that in mind would the Red Sox line up their strategy with the Angels' reported approach? In terms of making a full-court press in signing Betts this offseason, of course. They have already gone down that road and undoubtedly will continue to knowing his importance to the organization. But will the impetus for the engagement be born from figuring out if a trade is necessary? Probably not.

Unlike Trout in previous years, there has been no willingness by Betts to buy out years or ensure an extended stay with his current team. He seems dug in. The Red Sox don't need to dance around how much they need to pay their outfielder, particularly if another Trout deal gets done.

Mookie doesn't seem to mind waiting, most certainly paying close attention to that drama in Anaheim while he passes the time.