‘Just Because You Go to Free Agency Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Want to Be Somewhere’ – Red Sox’ Mookie Betts

Before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of a pivotal 14-game stretch for the Red Sox’ season on Monday, Mookie Betts opened up a bit about his impending free agency.

Betts, set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season, expressed his desire in wanting to hit the open market, but defended his reasoning for wanting to do so.

“I’ve loved it here,” the reigning American League MVP told reporters Monday. “I love the front office, my teammates, coaches. Everybody. It’s been nothing but amazing here. Just because you go to free agency doesn’t mean you don’t want to be somewhere. It’s just a part of the business.”

This comes amid speculation that Betts would prefer to play in a different market due to a certain disdain for Boston, but the 26-year-old shut that right down, saying that, “I’ve always said I loved it here. It’s been amazing to me, my family. It’s … like a home to me. It’s been all I know. And just because you exercise something in the business, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it.”

There also remains the distinct possibility that Betts could be dealt before the July 31st trade deadline depending on how the next week-or-so goes for Boston, given the fact he can become a free agent in just over a year.

“I think that’s a part of it,” Betts said regarding being traded. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I have to go out and put on my uniform every day. And if that time comes, that time comes. But right now I’m here, and I’m enjoying my time here. It’s above my pay grade.”

What’s fascinating to me is how some Red Sox fans seem fine with letting the club deal Betts away for prospects. Sure, getting something in return is better than getting nothing outside of a compensatory draft pick if he does leave via free agency, but it’s not like replacing a top-five talent is easy to do.

There’s no sure thing that any of the prospects the Sox would acquire in this scenario would pan out to be an everyday player in the majors, let alone one of Betts’ caliber.

At the end of the day, the Red Sox are the Red Sox. If Betts wants to test the market and go where he feels the most desired, then principal owner John Henry and co. should be ready to pay their man.

Through 99 games this season, Betts is slashing .282/.396/.479 with 15 home runs, 47 RBI, and a league-leading 89 runs scored.

Since the start of July, the Tennessee native has posted an impressive .382/.463/.603 slash line to go along with two homers, 10 RBI, and 23 runs scored over his last 17 games played.

It’s not often a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate falls into your lap in the fifth round of a amateur draft. The Red Sox should do their part to keep Betts in Boston for the rest of his playing career and beyond.

Advertisements

Nathan Eovaldi Will Move to Bullpen Once Healthy, Says Red Sox Manager Alex Cora

After it was reported by NESN’s Tom Caron on Monday that Nathan Eovaldi will become the Red Sox’ closer when he returns from the injured list, manager Alex Cora made things official in Toronto on Tuesday, stating that the right-hander will move to the bullpen once he is healthy.

Although there was no clear indication that Eovaldi will serve as a traditional closer for Boston, this moves come at a time when the Sox’ bullpen has been under heavy scrutiny lately, especially during this past weekend’s series against the New York Yankees in London.

Since June 20th, Red Sox relievers have posted a cumulative 8.73 ERA and .321 batting average against over their last eight games played, both the worst in all of baseball in that span.

Eovaldi, 29, last recorded a save on June 14, 2009, more than 10 years ago, when he was a prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and pitching for the Class-A Great Lakes Loons.

In eight career big league appearances as a reliever, the Texas Native owns a lifetime 3.21 ERA and .188 batting average against over 14 total innings of work.

The Red Sox this season lead the American League in blown saves with 17 in 34 opportunities, so the need is obviously there to bolster the back end of a struggling bullpen.

Matt Barnes was viewed as the man who would see the most high leverage opportunities for Boston, but now it appears that role will shift over to Eovaldi once he returns from the IL.

One problem that comes into light once this move is made would be the Sox’ starting rotation.

Eovaldi inked a four-year, $68 milliion deal with Boston back in December to be a starter, he said as much during his press conference at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas.

Moving Eovaldi to the ‘pen would leave the Red Sox with the same issue they have been trying to deal with in the righty’s absence, that being the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

So far, names such as Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Josh Smith, and Ryan Weber have made spot starts for Boston, and none have ran into a great deal of success in that role.

When speaking with MLB Network Radio on Tuesday, Cora did not rule out the possibility of Eovaldi returning to the starting rotation later in the season.

Out since the middle of April while recovering from right elbow surgery to remove loose bodies from the area, Eovaldi could be back sooner rather than later now that he will not have to ramp up his workload.

There’s also no guarantee that the former 11th round pick, who as already mentioned has no real closing experience, will be a shutdown reliever once he makes his return. How will his elbow react to working multiple times in a week, compared to just once every five days? That much is unknown.

This all goes to show how unprepared the Red Sox were for the 2019 season. They lost two key pieces of their World Series-winning bullpen in Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, and did almost nothing to address it outside of acquiring Colten Brewer.

 

Former #RedSox Closer Craig Kimbrel Will Not Be in Attendance for Tuesday’s Ring Ceremony, Says Team President and CEO Sam Kennedy

Earlier last week, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy extended a formal invitation to former closer Craig Kimbrel to attend the club’s Opening Day festivities at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Fast forward to Monday, the day before Boston’s home opener, and Kennedy told reporters that Kimbrel will in fact not be in attendance, as he does not want to cause any distractions.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo has the full quote from Kennedy:

Kimbrel, who of course won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2018, has yet to sign a contract with a big league club and remains a free agent.

When the report first popped up that the 30-year-old hurler could make an appearance at Fenway to receive his World Series ring, my initial reaction was that if you’re Dave Dombrowski, you can’t let that man leave without a contract offer.

Now, as we talk about the Red Sox bullpen 11 games into the new season, things do not as dire as many expected them to be. That much is highlighted by both Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier owning an ERA of 0.00 in eight combined appearances so far this year.

Still, one of the more elite relievers baseball has seen should be contributing in a major league bullpen right about now. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens anytime soon though, especially with a compensatory draft pick potentially on the line for the Red Sox.

Any way, first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays is scheduled for 2:05 PM EDT on Tuesday at Fenway Park, with pregame festivities kicking off the day at 1 PM EDT.

#RedSox Officially Announce Six-Year Extension for Xander Bogaerts

After hammering out the final details and agreements Sunday night, the Red Sox officially announced Monday that they had signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a six-year, $120 million contract extension through the 2025 season. The club tweeted the following to make it official.

Bogaerts, 26, will in fact still earn the $12 million he is due in 2019 before the new contract goes into effect beginning next year.

According to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the six-year pact includes two key components, with the first being an opt-out after the 2022 season, and the second being a $20 million vesting option for 2026, as long as Bogaerts compiles at least 535 plate appearances and is healthy at the end of the 2025 campaign.

Originally set to become a free agent this winter, the Aruba native will look to provide the Red Sox with solid offensive and defensive production for the forseeable future.

Four games into his sixth full season with the club, the two-time World Series champion and one-time American League All-Star is 3/16 with one double, one home run, and one RBI.

As things stand right now, the $20 million average annual value of Bogaerts’ new deal would make him the highest paid shortstop in all of baseball in 2020.

A press conference regarding Bogaerts’ extension with the Red Sox is scheduled for later Monday out in Oakland.

#RedSox and Xander Bogaerts Finalizing Seven-Year, $132 Million Contract Extension

Eight days after locking up ace left-hander Chris Sale for the next five seasons, it appears that the Red Sox have locked up another key piece who was set to hit free agency later this year in shortstop Xander Bogaerts, per WEEI’s Evan Drellich.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jeff Passan is reporting that Bogaerts’ potential contract extension with Boston will be worth $132 million over seven seasons. That averages out to approximately $18.6 million per year.

Passan also notes that the extension starts this season, presumably meaning that Bogaerts’ initial $12 million pact for 2019 will be ripped up. The deal will also include an opt-out.

A client os super agent Scott Boras, Bogaerts, 26, was set to become a free agent for the first time later this winter, but now appears to be a key member of the Red Sox infield for years to come.

Making his big league debut in 2013, the Aruba native has appeared in 762 games with Boston, tallying 75 home runs and 387 RBI over that time to go along with a career .283/.342/.429 slash line, one All-Star appearance, and two World Series titles.

Given that Opening Day was this past Thursday, I must say that I am honestly shocked this sort of deal got done at the time it did.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said at himself during the Chris Sale press conference last week.

“I think as far as negotiations are concerned I think it’s usually wise to stop on Opening Day because you don’t want to be a distraction,” Dombrowski said. “You want them focused and putting up the best numbers they can and win a championship.”

And less than two full weeks after that statement was made, the Red Sox are finalizing an extension with Xander Bogaerts as we speak.

This deal is not official yet, so I will provide more details as they come sometime tomorrow.

#RedSox, Chris Sale Reportedly Agree to Five-Year, $145 Million Contract Extension

The Red Sox and ace left-hander Chris Sale have reportedly reached agreement on a new five-year, $145 million contract extension, pending a physical. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier was the first to report that the two sides were nearing an extension earlier Friday, while the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report that the deal is worth $145 million, not $150 million like initially thought.

Rosenthal also notes that Sale will still earn the original $15 million he was due in 2019 before his new pact takes into effect beginning in 2020.

Sale, who will be turning 30 next week, will net approximately $29 million per year from 2020-2024, which is a lower average annual value then some forecasted earlier in the offseason.

It’s been well known that the Red Sox were interested in retaining Sale beyond 2019 since the time the club broke camp in February. Principal owner John Henry made that clear himself when he said, “[Sale’s] a special player. We would like to be able to sign him. I think he would like to as well.”

And what do you know? Just a few weeks later and Sale is set to remain with Boston for the forseeable future.

This extension also means that the Red Sox will be able to keep the majority of their starting rotation in tact for the next few years, with Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, and Eduardo Rodriguez all under contract for at least the next three seasons. Rick Porcello, of course, is set to become a free agent himself this winter.

In his first two seasons with the Red Sox, Sale is 29-12 with a 2.56 ERA and 0.924 WHIP to go along with 545 strikeouts in 372.1 innings pitched over 59 games started. He also recorded the final out of the 2018 World Series, in case you have forgotten about that.

There will be concern about Sale’s durability over the course of a full regular season, I can assure you of that. But, when you have the chance to lock down one of the best arms in the game today for less than $30 million per year, that’s a risk the Red Sox are probably willing to take.

And maybe, just maybe, the club can use the money they saved on this particular extension and use it towards one for JD Martinez, who can opt out of his current deal this winter, Xander Bogaerts, who is set to hit free agency for the first time later on this year, or even Mookie Betts, although he seems unlikely to agree to anything before he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season.

Regardless of that, Chris Sale is here to stay, and that is some positive news heading into the new season.

 

#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.