Red Sox: Mookie Betts isn’t ready to talk contract extension

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Mookie Betts
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Mookie Betts /

Mookie Betts says there are no hard feelings with the Boston Red Sox following his arbitration hearing but he’s focused on the season, not his contract.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts knows what his salary will be for the 2018 season. Beyond that is anyone’s guess.

Betts met with the media Thursday morning at Jet Blue Park. When the subject of a possible contract extension came up, Betts deflected the question by stating his focus was on the 2018 season. He assured the pool of reporters that he’s enjoying his time in Boston but with spring training underway he’s not interested in talking about the future.

The 25-year old recently went through the arbitration process for the first time in his career. When the two sides were unable to bridge the gap between the $10.5 million Betts asked for and the $7.5 million the Red Sox offered, the decision was put in the hands of an arbitration panel that ultimately ruled in the player’s favor.

Arbitration hearings can get a bit awkward. It puts teams in a position where they are forced to point out a player’s flaws in order to argue why they don’t deserve the money they’ve asked for. There’s certainly a risk that they can alienate the player in the process. That doesn’t appear to be the case here.

Betts harbors no hard feelings toward the Red Sox in the wake of his hearing. It doesn’t hurt that he won his case, although he gives the impression that it wouldn’t have altered his outlook on the team either way. He insists that nothing said during the hearing was taken personally. The Red Sox simply argued their case based on the facts.

"“Just seeing that side of it is pretty interesting,” said Betts, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “I like those type of things, kind of see how people debate. There were no hard feelings, nothing wrong, I love these guys. Nothing changed. I’m just going to continue to go out and play and have my same relationship that I always have.”"

A contingent of pessimistic fans feared this salary dispute would cause irreparable damage to the team’s relationship with their star outfielder. If Betts holds a grudge against his employer, he’s certainly hiding it well.

More from Red Sox News

Red Sox Nation has been clamoring for the team to lock up Betts to a long-term deal. One that provides cost certainty moving forward while buying out at least a couple years of free agency. It’s so obviously in the team’s best interest that Dave Dombrowski would be considered a failure if he doesn’t get it done, right?

Wrong. All the reasons that make the decision obvious are precisely why Betts has no interest in extending now. His 2018 salary is just shy of the record set by Kris Bryant for first-year arbitration-eligible players. The process seemed to work out pretty well for him this time. Why wouldn’t he want to go to arbitration two more times?

Betts is coming off a relatively disappointing season at the plate yet he still finished sixth in MVP voting! His value is only going to grow as he approaches his prime. There is no incentive for Betts to cap his future earnings by signing an extension now.

It’s not unusual for players to put contract talks aside once spring training begins. They don’t want the distraction hanging over them while their focus should be on preparing for the season.

Next: Most lovable Red Sox players

Not signing an extension does not suggest Betts is upset with the Red Sox. He isn’t counting down the days to when he can flee Boston. Betts isn’t going anywhere for at least three seasons and there will be plenty of opportunities to address his future before he hits free agency.