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Red Sox say they’d like to have Mookie Betts in Boston for the long haul

It’s been a busy offseason for Mookie Betts — welcoming his first child, MVP and Gold Glove Awards, and a new one-year contract with a hefty raise.2018 File/Jim Davis/Globe Staff

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Mookie Betts was wearing a Mickey Mouse baseball cap on Saturday as he traversed the byzantine passageways of Foxwoods Resort Casino to meet fans attending the Red Sox Winter Weekend.

Folks seeking an autograph, photograph, or some kind of interaction with the Most Valuable Player of the American League pursued Betts avidly. He is rapidly becoming one of the best players in franchise history and everybody wants their piece.

The Sox are chasing Betts, too, hoping he will agree to a long-term contract.

“Mookie Betts, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, is the exact type of player you want to have on your team,” team president Sam Kennedy said. “Not just for what he does on the field but off the field. He’s such a great person.


“We’d love to have him be a Red Sox for his entire career. You try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. He’s going to want to see what the market looks like. Understand that, but we’ve made it crystal clear to Mookie that we want him a part of the Red Sox organization long term.”

The Sox signed Betts to a one-year, $20 million contract earlier this month, a record for a player in his second year of arbitration eligibility. It was a raise of $9.5 million.

“I’m happy with the results,” said Betts, who had his salary determined by an arbitration hearing last year when the sides could not agree on a figure.

But Betts, who will be a free agent after the 2020 season, does not see that deal leading to a long-term contract any time soon.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think two parties agreed. Kind of part of the business.”

Mookie Betts celebrates with the World Series trophy after the Red Sox defeated the Dodgers in five games.2018 File/Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

What Bryce Harper receives in free agency this season — more so than avowed non-hustler Manny Machado — will serve as a guidepost for Betts, as will any efforts the Los Angeles Angels make to re-sign Mike Trout.


“We’ll cross that bridge as things come up,” Betts said.

Free agency, long a goal for many players, has shifted in recent years. As spring training approaches, Harper, Machado, Craig Kimbrel, and Dallas Keuchel remain unemployed.

A player like Betts would seem unassailably attractive for any team on the open market. But the same should be true for Harper, who is only 26. Betts is already 26.

“It’s tough. There’s a lot of good guys out there who aren’t signed and should be,” Betts said. “Contract things are kind of tough to come up with, especially with both sides and economics and how those things work.

“I love Boston; I love my teammates; I love the fans and all those type of things. We’ll continue to see what happens.”

That ownership feels the same way does register with Betts

“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve done something well, obviously. I have the utmost respect for those guys. They’re great people. To be able to put on a uniform in general is a blessing and one that says ‘Red Sox’ on it makes it that much better.”

Betts hit .346 with a 1.078 OPS, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 129 runs, and 80 RBIs last season. He also won a Gold Glove. By almost any measure, traditional or sabermetric, he was the best player in the game.


The Sox believe Betts can be even more productive and will drop him out of the leadoff spot to hit second. Manager Alex Cora is eager for him to have more at-bats with runners on base.

Betts acknowledged he was surprised by the news but agreed it made sense.

“Cora hasn’t put us in the wrong position yet,” he said. “No reason to start questioning now. We’ll see what happens . . . He just didn’t come without facts and stats and those sorts of things. He was fully prepared.

“Going into spring training I know exactly what to expect and I can get comfortable with it.”

Mookie Betts is greeted by Steve Pearce after hitting a home run in the World Series-clinching Game 5.2018 File/Jim Davis/Globe Staff/

For Betts, the offseason has been a rapidly spinning carousel.

After the Red Sox won the World Series on Oct. 28, Betts became a first-time father on Nov. 6 when his girlfriend, Brianna Hammonds, gave birth to Kynlee Ivory. The MVP announcement was Nov. 15, then his new deal came on Jan. 11.

The first full-squad workout of spring training will be Feb. 18. Outside of a trip to Las Vegas, Betts hasn’t had much time for a vacation.

“It wasn’t until late December that it settled down,” he said.

Fatherhood has changed Betts’s outlook. Any decision he makes now — particularly about where he will play — will affect his family.

“She’s another responsibility I have to take care of. You can’t just worry about yourself,” Betts said. “Now I have a new perspective on life and taking care of things. I just have to find a way to get some sleep.”


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.