At the conclusion of the 2020 season, Red Sox star outfielder Mookie Betts is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career.
There has been plenty of speculation surrounding what the Red Sox should do with Betts at the end of the 2019 season, whether that be to offer him a lucrative extension, hold on to him for one more year, or possibly trade him in order to replenish the club’s farm system.
When speaking with WEEI’s Rob Bradford in Texas on Wednesday, the 26-year-old broke down the approach he is utilizing for this whole process.
“As a whole, when it comes to business in general, whether it’s buying a building or contract negotiations or whatever it is, you have to take emotions out of it, “said Betts. “That’s what people forget. Fans and media get caught up in emotions and that’s just not how I was raised and that’s just not what my point of view with my agents is. We take emotions out of it and we focus on the business part.”
Betts explained how this approach was adopted, saying that he wanted to quit his youth football team the first day he put pads on, but his Mom talked him out of it.
“She told me there was no need to quit, “Betts quipped Wednesday. “Just because you had a bad day or just because things didn’t go your way doesn’t mean you quit. You see it through, you started it and you finish it. It was an emotional decision and that was to quit. That was my first thought.”
Since that time, the Tennessee native has taken emotions out of his decisions and been all business. He had the chance to play college baseball at the University of Tennessee, but instead opted to take the $750,000 signing bonus offered to him by the Sox as a fifth round draft pick in 2011.
Less than six years after making that decision, Betts told Bradford that another difficult time for him came when Boston took a shot at offering their young outfielder a contract extension at the conclusion of the 2016 season, the year he burst onto the scene and finished as the runner-up in American League MVP voting behind only Mike Trout.
“That was a really emotional time,” Betts said. “Because I was like, ‘Mom, we’ve never seen this amount of money.’ She was like, ‘OK, cool. It’s a lot of money. I think we know it’s a lot of money. So let’s focus on the facts. Let’s focus on what is real and we took the emotions out of it.’ The first one was definitely the hardest.”
No contract extension was agreed upon then, but Betts has earned approximately $31.5 million since and has one year of arbitration left.
At the end of the day though, Betts is going to what is right for his family without taking the outside noise into consideration.
“I don’t care about (the public’s perception.) It is what it is. I am who I am and my family is who we are and we’re going to make the right decision.”
It’s long been believed that if Betts were to reach free agency, he would more than likely go to the highest bidder. What the Red Sox have in front of them is a 26-year-old MVP who appears to be on pace for a Hall of Fame career.
If they were to allow this kind of special player to walk away simply because they did not want to exhaust their financial resources to retain his services, then I do not believe that would be the best of looks for the organization.
I understand that there is also a chance that Betts would be unwilling to consider any sort of contract extension in order to test the open market, so it would be in the Sox’ best interests to trade him in order to build their farm system back up.
However, I find two issues with that argument. The first being that the Red Sox have yet to appoint a head of their baseball operations department. The second is that if Boston intends to compete again in 2020, trading off Betts would significantly decrease the chances of that happening.
All in all, if it’s just going to come down to money with Betts, the Red Sox cannot afford to be outbid by any other club.