Red Sox: Mookie Betts on extension, “I don’t regret turning down that”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 26: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs back to the dugout from right field during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels at Camelback Ranch on February 26, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 26: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs back to the dugout from right field during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels at Camelback Ranch on February 26, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox and Mookie Betts head for divorce

The relationship between the Boston Red Sox and Mookie Betts felt like one that could go the distance. When things were good they were the best they could be and there never seemed to be a bad day between the pair. Eventually, contract talks had to occur that’s when things began to sour.

Even as the two sides seemed miles apart on the figures, it felt like there was at least a glimmer of hope. Afterall, Betts would become the highest-paid player through arbitration earning $27M for the 2020 season. It seemed as if the relationship was going to continue, especially after a salary in that neighborhood.

Extension talks between the Red Sox and Betts continue though a number would never be reached. The last we heard, Boston was in the neighborhood of 10-years/$300M, and Mookie wanted to be in the penthouse with 12-years/$420M. It was then that we all knew that this relationship would soon be ending.

The two sides weren’t just a few million dollars apart, they weren’t even in the same area code. To put it into perspective, the two offers were an entire Xander Bogaerts apart, as Bogey is set to earn $120M over the life of his new contract. That’s insane when you look at it that way. The difference between Boston’s last offer and Mookie’s counter is equal to another player’s entire contract.

Soon after Betts agreed to the arbitration figure, he’d be making his way to Hollywood. Both he and David Price would be traded to the Dodgers for a decent haul of prospects in Jeter Downs, Connor Wong, and Boston’s new right-fielder, Alex Verdugo. And just like that, a player that could’ve spent his entire career with the Red Sox and become one of the absolute greats of Fenway Park was gone.

Mookie Betts has zero regrets about spurning Red Sox

On a media call yesterday afternoon, Mookie was asked about his impending free agency and if he had second thoughts about turning down Boston’s $300M offer.

"“I don’t regret turning down that,” Betts said. “Once I make a decision, I make a decision. I’m not going back and questioning myself. I don’t worry about that. The market will be what the market is. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”"

I’ll say this right now, it’s hard to disagree with Mookie’s feelings. At the time that he turned Boston down, I’d say he’d absolutely be learning more money in free agency. Maybe not the $420M he was asking for, but definitely well above $300M.

Unfortunately for the right-fielder, the coronavirus has absolutely kicked the league below the belt financially. Now the owners are still billionaires with Scrooge McDuck levels of cash, but they may not be as eager to splash it down.

It seems as if he knows that he won’t be able to command the fiscal demands that he did with the Red Sox as well. Just form the verbiage he used, it feels like he knows that $420M won’t be on the table, but it also doesn’t do him any good to regret his previous decision. He can’t go back and change his mind, he’s made the move and now he has to play it out.

I once asked if Mookie made a mistake by not taking Boston’s offer. I believed then as I do now that he did, but we also have no idea what the upcoming offseason is going to look like. For all we know, the league could bounce back and he gets something in the area of 10-years/$350, which is much closer to his desired salary. But even that number feels well out of reach as it stands right now.

Betts also can’t accept a deal that’s remotely close to what the Red Sox offered as it would be seen as a defeat. Nobody could’ve predicted that COVID would’ve brought things to a halt as much as it has, well they could have and did, but you know what I mean. At the time of the offer, it was well below what Betts could fetch on the free-agent market and could even be considered insulting.

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"“Free agency is really on the back burner,” Betts said. “That’ll come. That’s nothing that I’m really thinking about right now. Right now, the main concern is (safety). There’s a lot going on, we haven’t gotten tests back and we don’t know who’s sick and not sick. There’s just a lot going on that needs to be addressed and free agency is not one of those things right now. That will come when it comes.”"

Only time will tell what the future holds in the way of Mookie Betts and his bank account. He is more than capable of earning what he desires and some could argue that he already has. it’ll depend on how the owners recoup lost revenues during this season and if they’re hesitant to open their wallets. For now, the biggest concern not just for Betts but everyone the world over is health and safety, and that’s not lost on him.

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Mookie Betts and the Red Sox felt like one of those player/team pairings that would see him spend his entire career in Boston. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case and it’s hard to imagine in back at Fenway in a Boston uniform ever again. I doubt there are any hard feelings as we all need to remember this is still a business, and Mookie has always approached it as such. He knows his worth and wants to be compensated fairly, and I can’t argue against that.