#RedSox’ Mookie Betts Not Thinking About Contract Extension, Prefers to Wait Until Free Agency to Sign Next Deal

One day after Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $430 million contract extension to remain with the Los Angeles Angels, Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts indicated to reporters on Wednesday that he rather wait to test free agency than sign an extension of his own.

“I don’t expect anything to happen till I’m a free agent,’ Betts said.

The 26-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season.

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Betts rejected a seven-year, $200 million extension from Boston after the 2017 season, which would have netted him approximately $28.6 million per year over the lifetime of that pact.

But now that the game’s best position player, Trout, is off the board with a contract that will net the Angels outfielder nearly $36 million per season, it appears that Betts may have the right idea heading into the winter of 2020/2021.

Red Sox executives have made it abundantly clear that they have reached out to Betts this offseason in hopes of reaching agreement on a long-term extension, but as Sherman reports, “the Betts camp (has) not even made a counter-proposal.”

If the year-to-year game is the one Betts wants to play, so be it. He’s already going to make $20 million during the 2019 season, the most for any player in their second year of arbitration eligibility.

This isn’t to say that the Tennessee native is as good as gone come the conclusion of the 2020 season, he said that himself.

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

He doesn’t want to sell himself short of his value, which essentially sounds like any thought of taking a hometown discount is out the window.

Like the great philosopher David Price once said, Mookie Betts pretty much “holds the cards now.” It’s his decision to make and his alone.

If he wants to remain with the Red Sox and the Red sox want him to stay as well, then the club better be ready to pony up on a mega-deal of Trout-like proportions when the time comes in 2020.

If they aren’t willing to commit long-term to the reigning American League MVP, well, I rather not think about that right now.

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Mike Trout and Angels Reportedly Agree to 12-Year, $430 Million Deal

The best player in baseball is about to become the highest paid player in baseball, as Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a new 12-year contract worth more than $340 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. This would be the largest contract in the history of professional sports.

If the details are indeed accurate, this contract will net Trout approximately $35.8 million per season over the next 12 years.

The two-time American League MVP, now entering his age 27 season with Los Angeles, has consistently been a five-tool phenom since his big league debut in 2011.

Since the start of his first full season in 2012, Trout leads all of baseball in fWAR (64.2) by a wide margin. He’s also finished top three in AL MVP voting in six of the last seven seasons, with the one exception coming in 2017 when he missed a significant amount of time due to a left thumb injury.

This past season, Trout slashed .312/.460/.628 with 39 home runs, 79 RBI, and 24 stolen bases over 140 games.

There was some speculation fueled by the Bryce Harper signing that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to be in on Trout when he was supposed to hit free agency following the 2020 season. But, the New Jersey native ultimately decided to remain with the organization he has seemingly grown up with, at least for the forseeable future anyway.

Now that names such as Trout, Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado have all gotten their record paydays, all eyes turn to the Red Sox’ own Mookie Betts, who like Trout before Tuesday, is set to hit free agency in 2020.

The 2018 AL MVP has gone on record this spring indicating that he’s in no rush to sign an extension before hitting the open market.

“Contracts and those type of things are kind of tough to do, especially with the market and how those things kind of roll,” Betts said back in February. “But I will say I love my teammates and my coaches and everybody who’s around and have a great deal of respect for the front office. We’ll just leave it at that.”

With Trout now set to earn more than $35 million per season when his new contract begins, one would have to guess that Betts probably will be seeking a deal with an AAV in that range as well.

Higher-ups in the Red Sox organization like John Henry, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, and Dave Dombrowski have made it clear that they would like Betts to remain with the club past 2020, but that all depends on the player’s willingness to sign an extension.

If  you were Mookie Betts, would you rather take the money and security now on a lucrative long-term deal, or wait until you reach free agency and test the waters then?

Betts, exactly 10 months younger than Trout, slashed .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs, 80 runs driven in, and 30 stolen bases in 136 games played this past season on his way to his first MVP award.

In January, the two sides, that being Betts and the Red Sox, reached an agreement on a record-setting one-year, $20 million deal for the Tennessee native’s second year of arbitration eligibility.

Bobby Dalbec Among 11 Players Reassigned to Minor League Camp in Second Round of #RedSox Roster Cuts

Six days after making their first round of roster cuts last Tuesday, the Red Sox announced on Monday that the following 11 players have been reassigned to minor league camp.

Among the position players reassigned was infielder Bobby Dalbec. Boston’s sixth-ranked prospect outlasted top prospect Michael Chavis at Red Sox major league camp, but not by much.

Dalbec, 23, slashed .200/.333/.234 with no home runs and a pair of RBI in 36 spring plate appearances.

The Washington native made some noise by launching a monster shot of a home run in his first at-bat against the Northeastern University baseball team back in February, but really has not been able to showcase that legitimate power of his so far in Grapefruit League play.

Given the fact that names such as Chavis, Josh Ockimey, and Sam Travis are all projected to start the 2019 season in Triple-A Pawtucket, I would guess that Dalbec will begin his year with Double-A Portland, where he hit six homers and drove in 24 runs over the course of 29 games in 2018.

As things currently stand, the Red Sox have 36 players in their big league camp, and the most surprising of those who still remain might just be Darwinzon Hernandez.

The club’s top pitching prospect has impressed so far this spring, allowing just one run on seven hits, five walks, and three HBPs over five appearances (two starts) and 10 innings of work.

If he doesn’t crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, it would not be much of a shock to see Hernandez make his major league debut at some point this season. The 22-year-old left-hander is capable of both starting and coming out of the bullpen.

With Opening Day just over 10 days away, expect the team to announce their next round of roster cuts fairly soon.

 

 

#RedSox Split St. Patrick’s Day Split-Squad Doubleheader Against Pirates and Rays

The Red Sox both improved and fell to 8-14-1 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday afternoon following a St. Patrick’s Day split-squad split, with the 3-2 win coming at JetBlue Park against the Tampa Bay Rays and the 8-1 defeat coming at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.

Beginning with the contest against the Rays, David Price was originally scheduled to make his second start of the spring against his old club, but the left-hander was scratched Sunday morning due to illness.

In his place, fellow southpaw Brian Johnson, who was going to pitch anyway, surrendered two runs (one earned) on a pair of hits and walks to go along with three strikeouts in two-and-two-thirds innings of work.

Johnson faced 13 Rays hitters on the afternoon, retiring eight of them while allowing five to reach base before getting the hook with one out to get in the top half of the third.

From there, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Adam Lau, Colten Brewer, Jenrry Mejia, Durbin Feltman, Hunter Smith, and Eduard Bazardo combined to hold Tampa Bay scoreless over the final 6.1 frames on Sunday, as they scattered just two hits, six walks, and six strikeouts en route to the win.

Hembree, who worked the start of the fourth inning, struggled with control a bit, which was evident by him walking the bases loaded while failing to retire the side.

Feltman, meanwhile, fanned the first two hitters he faced in relatively easy fashion, but could not finish things off after giving up a two out double and surrendering two straight walks.

Bazardo, who was signed as an international free agent by Boston back in 2014, picked up the save in his Grapefruit League debut thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox split-squad lineup was matched up against Rays minor leaguer Ryan Merrit to kick things off.

Starting the scoring in this one was Brock Holt, whose leadoff double in the first would translate to Boston’s first run of the afternoon coming around to score on a two out RBI double off the bat of JD Martinez.

Fast forward all the way to the bottom half of the eighth, trailing by a run, and back-to-back two out RBI knocks from Danny Mars and Ryan Fitzgerald pulled the Red Sox up a run themselves, as 3-2 would go on to be the final score in this one.

Meanwhile, over in Bradenton, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1.

Jackie Bradley Jr. provided the lone highlight for Boston in this one with, in his one words, “probably the most amazing play I’ve ever made.”

Steve Pearce left in the first inning after feeling discomfort in his left calf while running out a grounder in his first and only at bat of the afternoon.

When asked about it, the 2018 World Series MVP said, “I didn’t feel a pop. There wasn’t anything that was too alarming. I just don’t like how it is right now.”

His departure on Sunday seems more precautionary than anything, but it would not be too surprising if the 35-year-old Pearce is held out of action for the next few days to ensure all is well with that left calf.

Some additional notes from Sunday’s split-squad doubleheader:

Colten Brewer faced the minimum six hitters in two shutout frames against the Rays, while Jenrry Mejia also held Tampa Bay scoreless to go along with one strikeout in a perfect seventh inning.

Triston Casas, who was Boston’s first round selection in the 2018 draft, made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut at JetBlue Park as a defensive replacement for Mitch Moreland in the fifth.

The 19-year-old prospect went 0/1 with a walk and a strikeout while also seeing a fair amount of action over at first.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll make the short trek to Hammond Stadium on Monday to face the Minnesota Twins in the sixth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston, while ace right-hander Jose Berrios will be doing the same for Minnesota.

The last time these two clubs linked up, Eovaldi allowed one run over three innings in his first start of the spring, while Berrios allowed a pair of runs over 3.1 innings.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN does not have it covered.

Chris Sale Named #RedSox’ 2019 Opening Day Starter

Prior to Sunday’s split-squad action against the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates, Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced that Chris Sale will get the start for Boston on Opening Day in Seattle on March 28th.

Fresh off a seven-strikeout performance in his spring debut yesterday, Sunday’s announcement marks the second consecutive season the ace left-hander will make his first start of the year in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day.

This bit of news was originally supposed to be revealed by Cora following Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Braves, but he decided to hold out and add some drama to what appeared to be a pretty easy choice to make.

Entering his eighth full major league season, Sale owns a 1.93 ERA while fanning 32 over 28 innings in four previous Opening Day starts with both the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.

In five career appearances (four starts) at T-Mobile Park against the Mariners, the left-hander has surrendered six earned runs and struck out 44 over 29.1 innings of work.

As things are currently lined up with the Red Sox going to a six-man rotation to start their 2019 season, it appears as though Sale will also be getting the start for the home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 9th at Fenway Park.

Regarding how the remainder of Boston’s rotation will fill out to at least start the season, that is not yet known due to David Price being scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday because of an illness.

Sale, 29, went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 K/9 in 32 games started for Boston in 2018.

His next and what should be final Grapefruit League start will more than likely come against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park on Thursday.

 

Chris Sale Fans Seven and Mookie Betts Homers as #RedSox Bounce Back with 6-1 Victory over Braves

The Red Sox improved to 7-13-1 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park, marking their first win since March 5th.

After tossing three innings in a minor league contest this past Monday, Chris Sale finally made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut in this one.

With a pitch limit set at no more than 65, the ace left-hander held Atlanta scoreless while scattering two hits and striking out seven, five of which came consecutively, in four quality frames of work. He did not walk a single batter.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 50 before heading out to finish his day in the Red Sox bullpen, Sale topped out at 93 MPH with his fastball and also mixed in a fair amount of changeups and sliders.

From the beginning of the fifth inning on, we got a significant glimpse at what could potentially be the back-end of the Red Sox bullpen in 2019, as Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to surrender only one run on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over the final five innings on Saturday.

Like Sale, Brasier also made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.

Previously dealing with a toe infection earlier in the spring, the 2018 standout reliever struck out one while also allowing that lone Atlanta run to cross the plate in their half of the sixth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, finally put together his first shutout performance of the year, as he retired three of the four hitters he faced in a solid seventh inning of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Braves number-two prospect Kyle Wright to start things off on Saturday.

As he typically does, Mookie Betts got the scoring started for Boston by lacing a one out first inning single off Wright.

One Mitch Moreland double later, and JD Martinez collected his first RBI of the spring on a sac-fly to right.

That plated Betts and advanced Moreland to third, who would then come around to score himself on an RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox an early two-run advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Betts struck again by blasting his first home run of the year off Braves reliever Shane Carle, a monumental solo shot over the JetBlue Park Green Monster.

An inning later, Brock Holt would turn out to be the catalyst of a three-run frame for Boston by drawing a leadoff walk off Luke Jackson.

Two back-to-back RBI doubles from Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. later, the Red sox found themselves up 5-1.

After stealing third, Bradley would come in to score on a Chad De La Guerra sacrifice fly, which would plate the club’s sixth and final run of the day, as 6-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Eduardo Nunez had himself a nice day at the plate with that RBI double. He also flashed the leather at third on a hard-hit ground ball from Adam Duvall in the fourth inning.

Darwinzon Hernandez, who was responsible for the final two innings on Saturday, briefly received a visit from Alex Cora and a trainer in the eighth, but remained in the game to close things out.

In his third game back, Dustin Pedroia went 0/3 out of the leadoff spot. He started the first five innings at second base.

Next up for the Red Sox, it will be some split-squad action against both the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

One group will remain in Fort Myers to host the Rays with David Price slated to start, while the other group will head to Bradenton to face the Pirates, with Marcus Walden getting the start there.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon is listed as Sunday’s starter for Pittsburgh, while Tampa Bay will be going with lefty Ryan Merritt.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN has the Rays game covered.

Also, here’s what Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Saturday’s win:

#RedSox’ Chris Sale Tosses Three Innings in Minor League Game Monday

For the first time since Game 5 of the 2018 World Series last October, Red Sox ace Chris Sale was back on a mound and pitching in a game on Monday afternoon.

Granted, with the club having the day off, the left-hander’s 2019 spring debut came against a group of Red Sox minor leaguers at one of Fenway South’s backfields, but it was still exciting to see nonetheless.

Working three innings, Sale’s fastball velocity consistently hovered from 91 to 93 MPH on Monday, per the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato.

When speaking with media after his outing, the 29-year-old hurler said that he felt fine and will be ready to go again in five days.

On the topic of his fastball velocity, Sale stated that he held things back but felt that it was there if he wanted to go it, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Abraham also noted that Alex Cora, Dana LeVangie, and Dave Dombrowski were among others in attendance to watch Sale work.

If the Florida native is set to pitch again in five days, his next start and 2019 Grapefruit League debut should come against the Atlanta Braves this Saturday at JetBlue Park.

As for when Sale will more than likely be named Boston’s Opening Day starter for the second consecutive year, Cora said on Sunday, “We can’t do that one yet. Maybe by the end of the week.”

Entering his final season before hitting free agency, Sale posted a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 K/9 in 27 games started and 158 innings pitched in 2018.