FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Better than 20 years ago, in the throes of a contentious contract extension battle with the Red Sox, Mo Vaughn noted a basic rule of baseball economics.
"Gentlemen,'' said Vaughn to a group of sportswriters assembled in the Red Sox clubhouse, "the price goes up every day.''
Surely, Mookie Betts can appreciate such a sentiment.
Betts has not had a meaningful at-bat since last October, and yet, his value has managed to grow anyway. First, he was named the 2018 American League AL MVP. More recently, he has watched as a number of his contemporaries have landed huge contracts -- either via free agency or through extensions with their current teams.
Betts won't qualify for free agency until after the 2020 season, but his leverage has only been strengthened with these series of deals:
Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300-million deal with the San Diego Padres.
Nolan Arenado agreed to an eight-year, $260-million contract with the Colorado Rockies.
Bryce Harper got a 13-year, $330-million package from the Philadelphia Phillies, a record at the time.
And now, Mike Trout is on the verge of signing a landmark 10-year, $363.5-million extension to remain with the Los Angeles Angels. (Coupled with the two years remaining on his current deal, which runs through 2020 and pay him $66.5 million, Trout will make $430 million over 12 years.
Three of the four deals topped $300 million in value. All but Harper's is worth an average annual value of better than $30 million.
Together, they help establish the bar for Betts. Or more accurately, for the Red Sox, since Betts stands to get his money from some team in the next 20 or so months.