Red Sox News: Mookie Betts expected to be in Boston for life

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) /

Mookie Betts reveals he expected to stay with the Boston Red Sox.

Much has been written about what we think of the Boston Red Sox trading Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers but few have considered how the superstar outfielder felt about the life-changing blockbuster deal.

A false narrative has been spread among a portion of Red Sox Nation that suggests that Betts wanted out of Boston. I see it all the time on social media or in the comments section of our articles. Mookie has been vilified as a disloyal diva fueled by greed who wanted to escape to the bright lights of Hollywood where greater fame and fortune awaited.

That perspective is a load of rubbish. Betts didn’t ask to be traded and he never showed any indication that his fondness for this city was fading. He said long before he was traded that he loves playing in Boston and he hasn’t changed his tune since moving to the west coast.

Red Sox legend David Ortiz recently caught up with Betts to ask his former teammate if he ever imagined himself wearing a Dodgers uniform. In the video posted on Mookie’s Instagram page, Betts responded that he initially thought that he was going to stay with the Red Sox “for life.”

Contrary to popular belief, the Red Sox wanted Betts to spend the rest of his career in Boston. They weren’t eager to dump him for payroll relief. Yes, ownership was adamant about resetting the luxury tax penalties this year but they would have found another path to slashing payroll if they needed to.

We know this because the Red Sox made a legitimate effort to re-sign Betts, offering as much as $300 million on a 10-year extension. That wasn’t enough to convince Betts to forgo free agency so the Red Sox traded him rather than risk losing him for nothing.

While we’re at it, let’s dispel some of the other myths surrounding the Betts trade.

The Red Sox owners are cheapskates who refuse to spend money

Boston cut payroll last winter while shopping in the bargain bin to fill out their roster. The results were a disaster with the Red Sox finishing with the fourth-worst record in baseball. However, their frugal habits this one time doesn’t imply that Chaim Bloom believes he’s still running the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston still had the fourth-highest payroll in baseball. Their Opening Day payroll was higher than the Dodgers! With the tax penalties reset, expect the Red Sox to open their wallets again.

The Red Sox gave Betts a low-ball offer

Boston’s best reported offer included an average annual value of $30 million, which is almost exactly what he’ll earn with the Dodgers ($27 million in 2020 for his final year of arbitration plus $365 million over the next 12 years).

The Red Sox presented Betts with this offer prior to the 2019 season when he was set to make $20 million in his second year of arbitration. He would have received significantly more money in 2019 plus a few million more this year had he accepted the extension with the Red Sox. His deal with the Dodgers is heavily back-loaded so he won’t make $30 million in any season until 2024, an annual salary he could have started raking in five years earlier if he stayed in Boston.

The difference is the number of years. Boston wasn’t willing to commit beyond his age 35 season while the Dodgers are stuck signing his checks until Betts is 39 years old. Betts sacrificed making more money in the short term in order to maximize his long-term earnings.

Betts was disloyal to the Red Sox

I hear this all the time – Red Sox history is filled with legends like Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski who stayed loyal to the team by sticking with Boston for their entire careers. Why can’t star players these days be more like them?

You realize that free agency didn’t exist back then, right? Ted and Yaz stayed because they didn’t have a choice. Free agency is a right that players have earned. Betts stating that he would test free agency unless he was offered a top of the market extension doesn’t make him disloyal. That’s how modern baseball works.

Betts was being greedy

Being asked to be paid what you’re worth isn’t greedy, it’s basic economics. Betts felt an obligation to set the market for his fellow players. If he accepted a team-friendly deal two years before hitting the market, that reduces what the upcoming classes of free-agents can expect to make. The Player’s Union would have thrown a fit if one of the game’s best players settled for less.

If Betts only cared about his bank account, why did he sign long-term with a team residing in the state with by far the highest income tax? California’s income tax is more than double what we have here in Massachusetts. Florida and Texas don’t have income tax. He could have signed a lesser deal with a team from any of those states and still pocketed more in the long run by saving on income tax.

Betts wanted to leave Boston

You heard it in the video that he posted on Instagram. Betts wanted to stay. He expected to spend the rest of his career with the Red Sox but the sides couldn’t agree on an extension. You can blame the Red Sox if you want for not tacking on as many years as it took to get a deal done, despite knowing full well that the end of the contract was destined to be a disaster.

Next. Five free-agents that must be avoided. dark

Just don’t blame Mookie. He would have gladly spent the rest of his career in Boston if the Red Sox had offered him the contract he wanted. It didn’t work out but that’s not his fault. Let’s stop pretending any of us would have acted differently if we had the same opportunity to earn more money in our careers.