With the top regular-season props already covered, we now take a look at some of the most appealing individual player props. With Bryce Harper finally signed, sportsbooks have begun offering props on his season performance. The most interesting development here, however, is the debut of contract props regarding two of the Major League’s best players in Mike Trout, and Mookie Betts. These are futures with longer potential payout windows as there is no guarantee that either sees a new contract prior to the end of this season.
Props are often the most exciting and cost-efficient ways to get some action on your favorite players. A wager or two can keep you invested all year long and at a fraction of the cost relative to pounding player props for each of the 162 games. These contract props add a new layer of excitement to free agency and extension talks and allows us as fans and bettors to become even more invested as we already are.
Bryce Harper (OF – PHI)
Batting Average (Over .267 -115)
Bryce Harper had quite the poor start to his 2018 campaign. After batting .214 to open the season, Harper locked it in after the All-Star break. Harper went on to average .300 in his final 65 games. He is much closer to a .300 hitter than he is to the .214 hitter we saw in the first half. Harper is a career .279 hitter that has had two sub-.250 seasons in his last three campaigns. This presents us with a prime opportunity to exploit. He may not hit .300 for a full season, but .275 is well within reach.
Home Runs (Over 33.5 -125)
Bryce Harper should easily cover this number if he plays close to a full season. Coming off of a 34-home-run season in which he struggled mightily in the first half, this looks like a great value. Harper has topped this number in two of the last three seasons in which he saw over 500 at-bats. He will be highly motivated in Philadelphia to prove he is worth every dollar of his huge new contract. Harper is one of the top power hitters in the easier National League. He posted an HR/AB rate of under 16.2 in three of the last four seasons. Lock this one in as soon as you can.
Mike Trout (OF – LAA)
How long will Mike Trout’s deal be? (Less than 10 years +200)
There are more than a few options on the board here. The options range from fewer than 10 years at +200 to 14 years at +800. In this case, I opted for fewer than 10 years, as I am of the mind that Trout will look to maximize his AAV on this contract before cashing in again as a 35-year-old. The consensus top player in baseball will likely follow Nolan Arenado’s lead in terms of contract length. Trout should set a new record in terms of total value and per year salary.
How much will Mike Trout’s next contract be? ($300-350 million +210)
This prop really comes down to your answer on the prior prop. Let’s do some math. If Mike Trout signs for 10 years at Arenado’s AAV he will end up with $320 million. If he signs for eight he will get the exact same $260 million dollars. With that said, many think Trout’s next deal will dwarf Arenado’s. If he hits unrestricted free agency as is expected, he could be in line for up to $40 million per annum. With that in mind, let’s take a look at two alternative scenarios. Scenario one has Trout getting a modest increase over what Nolan got to the tune of $35 million per. $35 million over 10 years will put him at $350 million while the same amount over eight places him at $280 million. If he gets the $40 million many are expecting, 10 puts him at $400 million while eight puts him at $320 million. Since my lean on the contract length prop is eight, the +210 for $300-350 million is the play here.
Mookie Betts (OF – BOS)
How long will Mookie Betts’ next contract be? (10 years +125)
Vegas has this one pegged. Mookie Betts will undoubtedly sign a 10-year contract. Arguably the best player in baseball in 2018, he is making $20 million in arbitration this season. Betts is not a free agent until 2020, but he will likely be extended sometime before that. Betts will be 27 by the end of this season and is less likely than Mike Trout to still be playing at a high level in 2027. While Trout can afford to gamble that he will make more than the $80 million over the five years he would be expected to sign for, after the hypothetical eight-year deal he would sign, Mookie Betts cannot. A 10-year deal for Mookie gives him security over a longer term and ensures of an extra $70 million. Ten years is the strong lean here, even if the public and Vegas have made the odds less attractive than one would hope for.
How much will Mookie Betts’ next contract be? ($300-350 million +210)
It is all but guaranteed that Mookie Betts will be looking to top both Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado when it comes time to talk new contract with the Boston Red Sox. Unlike Mike Trout, Betts is not expected to hit the open market. With the above in mind, we can posit that Betts will be looking for at least $331 million with an AAV of $32.5 million or more. As the reigning AL MVP, the $35 million mark seems apt. $35 million/annum over 10 years would place Betts at $350 million, which would accomplish his likely goal of being baseball’s highest-paid player in both AAV and total contract. $300-350 million seems like the safest range, but 351-400 million at +500 also provides some appeal. In the end, it is best to stick to your contract math, wherever that may lead you. So, in this case, the lean is 300-350 at +210.