Red Sox president Sam Kennedy acknowledged Thursday he was disappointed and surprised when Mookie Betts agreed to a contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say a sense of disappointment and maybe closure and finality to it,” Kennedy said. “Look, we have a plan. We are very confident in the direction of our baseball operation.
“But it’s obviously very hard to see Mookie Betts sign a long-term deal somewhere else.”
The Sox traded Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in February, saying at the time that acquiring three prospects was preferable to losing their star right fielder as a free agent.
The Dodgers moved quickly and signed Betts to a 12-year, $365 million deal that was announced on Wednesday.
“I was a little surprised by the timing, I was,” Kennedy said. “Wish him well and we move forward.”
Kennedy said the Red Sox “never once” had the impression Betts didn’t like playing in Boston or for the Sox.
“It was just unfortunate we couldn’t get together on contract terms. It happens in this business,” Kennedy said. “It’s one of the hardest parts of the business.”
Kennedy touched on several other topics:
▪ He remains hopeful fans will be able to attend games at Fenway Park before this season ends.
“It may seem a difficult thing to pull off at this point. That’s why we’re going to walk before we run,” he said. “The first step is to get the games underway, make sure we can pull off everything that’s expected of us from Major League Baseball with respect to our health and safety protocols.”
Kennedy said that as a business, the Red Sox hope to derive revenue from attendance if that is deemed safe to do for fans and team employees.
“We need fans back in the ballpark,” he said. “They’re as big a part of this franchise as anybody.”
That Fenway is a spacious outdoor venue with fixed entry points, it could be possible.
“We’ll see if that’s possible. Right now it’s not possible given Major League Baseball rules and given where we are with the state of Massachusetts and city of Boston,” Kennedy said.
The Sox have 12 of their 30 home games in September, including three against the Yankees starting Sept. 18.
▪ The Red Sox will have a 120-foot-long “Black Lives Matter” sign stretched across seats in center field for Friday’s season-opening game against Baltimore.
The team also put “Black Lives Matter” on the large billboard its owns overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike as it runs behind Fenway. It will remain there indefinitely.
“We’re committing to amplifying powerful messages for progress and fighting against inequality and injustice at every turn,” Kennedy said. “It’s important for us to be unambiguous about where we stand.”
▪ Kennedy said the pandemic has cost baseball “billions and billions” of dollars because of the shortened schedule and fans not being allowed.
“Individual clubs are suffering staggering losses,” he said. “There is an economic reality where clubs are losing on an individual basis well over $100 million per club.”