The Boston Red Sox have yet to have any official talks with superstar Mookie Betts about his future despite his free agency quickly approaching.
This time next year Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts will be a free agent and the belle of the MLB ball. Except for a limited number of teams in the league, everyone will be vying for the affection of the former MVP. Now that the GM Meetings have concluded and the Winter Meetings are on the horizon, Boston needs to make a play to keep the star outfielder.
Betts has made it very clear that he enjoys being a member of this team and playing in Boston but that he wants to be paid what he feels he deserves. I don’t question his motivation in any sense of it as he’s doing what we all would if we were in his shoes. When it comes down to the bottom line we all want to earn what we feel our value determines and to take care of our families.
Boston has made a few attempts in the past to ink Mookie to an extension but those efforts were rebuffed by the right-fielder. As we enter the meaty part of the offseason it’s likely that the Red Sox may take another run at Mookie but with money incredibly tight, it’s hard to see it happening. In fact, it feels like this massive salary dump is an effort to reset the CBT penalty in order to make a massive offer to Mookie next winter.
Though Chaim Bloom and Brian O’Halloran have spoken with Mookie’s team, nothing formal has been talked about. Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy spoke to the media about Betts during an event celebrating the introduction of the MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park last week.
"“You want Mookie Betts as part of your organization,” he said. “We’ve made that clear to him and continue to make that clear.”"
Kennedy hit the nail right on the head if you’re out there saying your team doesn’t need Mookie Betts in the lineup then you’re lying. He’s a generational player that is a marketing agency’s dream. If Betts does decide to walk next winter then the Red Sox will instantly go from top contenders to fighting to stay alive.
We all know that the Red Sox have plenty of money but they want to stop writing the league office massive checks due to the CBT. Bloom’s job this winter is to get below that $208M mark in order to get back in the good graces of the Luxury Tax. It’s going to take a big-time offer in order to keep Mookie in a Boston uniform for the long haul so they have no choice but to get below the threshold.
"“Chaim’s reputation is creativity and turning over lots of stones, looking at different opportunities. We’ll see where this offseason leaves us,” Kennedy said. “It has been interesting to see, over the last couple days, some deals are getting done and the market is moving more quickly. We’ll see how that affects us as well.”"
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It feels like it’d take a miracle for the Red Sox to ink Mookie to an extension before he hits free agency next year. In the same sense though it also feels like their absolute best chance of keeping him in the organization. He’s never once said he wanted to leave Boston, he’s only expressed interest in testing the market and getting paid what he’s worth.
Even with the budget constraints handed down to Bloom and O’Halloran they should still throw everything at Betts that they possibly can this winter. They shouldn’t allow the CBT pressure to get in their way of keeping the franchise’s greatest homegrown product in house. I’m sure John Henry wouldn’t mind writing another penalty check if it means Mookie will be in a Red Sox uniform for the next eight to ten years.
Much like J.D. Martinez opting-in for the 2020 season affected anything Boston could do in regards to Betts this winter, the inverse could be true for 2021. Martinez can opt-out again next winter and if Mookie winds up signing elsewhere, that may lead J.D. towards the exit sign. Then again, if Bloom and company can draw up a new contract locking in Martinez for the longterm then that may sway Mookie into signing with Boston.
There are a lot of moving pieces and each one will have some sort of consequence on another. This winter will be key in the future of the Red Sox as it will set the tone for what we will see from Mookie Betts going forward. Could a Hail Mary extension be presented and accepted? Absolutely. However, it may be more logical to free up the money and back up the Brinks truck to Mookie’s front door next winter.