When it comes to an extension, Mookie Betts wants to be ‘treated fairly’ by Red Sox
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mookie Betts repeated the phrase several times Wednesday, the idea that signing a contract extension with the Red Sox would require him being “treated fairly” by the team.
What that entails financially, Betts agreed, is becoming more evident given the recent deals given to Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Mike Trout.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s next in line.
“I love it here in Boston. Great spot,” Betts said. “I’ve definitely grown to love going up North in the cold and all that type of thing. That definitely doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”
In what were his most expansive comments to date on the topic, Betts said he has turned down long-term offers from the Red Sox but remains open to further discussions.
Betts declined an eight-year, $200 million deal following the 2017 season, the New York Post reported Tuesday. The team tried again in January, a source told the Globe, before Betts avoided arbitration by accepting a one-year deal worth $20 million.
“There’s been a couple of disagreements and then we agreed this year,” Betts said. “It’s negotiations; it’s just part of it.”
Betts does not expect an agreement to come any time soon, if at all. The 26-year-old right fielder has two seasons remaining before free agency and is willing to wait.
That Trout, Nolan Arenado, and Alex Bregman are among the growing number of prominent players who have accepted extensions to stay with the teams that drafted them has not changed Betts’s thinking.
“It’s definitely a positive thing for the game,” Betts said of Trout’s 10-year, $360 million extension from the Los Angeles Angels. “I don’t think it really impacts me that much. But definitely something positive is going on in the game and hopefully there’s more of it.”
For now, Betts waits.
“It’s just one of those things where you’ve just got to go out and play,” he said. “Can’t worry about the economics of the game right now. [The Red Sox] have to take care of what they have to take care of; I have to take care of what I have to take care of. The common thing is to win a World Series. That’s definitely what we both want to do.”
But Betts and his agents, Ed Cerulo and Steve Veltman, are willing to hear more proposals from the Sox.
“Why not? You can definitely keep your ears open and see what’s said,” Betts said. “But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to agree on or take whatever is given. But I love it here. This is a great place to be, to spend your career here. That doesn’t mean you sell yourself short.”
After only four full seasons, Betts is already one of the most accomplished players in franchise history.
He is a three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner who helped lead the Sox to three consecutive division titles and last fall the World Series championship. He finished second to Trout in the 2016 MVP voting, then won the award last season with Trout finishing second.
But Betts hedged when asked if the new contracts for Harper, Machado, and Trout helped define his value.
“Yes and no,” he said. “We’re all different players but we have accomplished some of the same things. Definitely the values are close [to] the same but it’s not all the same. Different variables.
“Those guys have all gotten great deals. They could get what they got and some of them could get more.
“I think it’s been pretty good, definitely a step in the right direction for the game.”
Through his agents, Betts stays up on how other deals will affect his future but thinks more about the immediacy of the coming season.
That he has yet to make his own agreement is not a concern.
“I’m under no pressure to do anything,” Betts said. “It’s OK for two sides to disagree. It’s perfectly fine; it’s normal.
“I’ve got two more years. I’m going to make the best of them. Got to worry about Year One right here and going out and doing my best to help the team win and also next year.”
Betts’s tone was measured when he spoke to a small group of reporters. There appears to be no animosity in his relationship with the team. He’s simply willing to wait until the right deal comes along.
“I love the front office,” he said. “They’ve done a great job with everything and putting a great team together. I wanted to be treated fairly, everybody does. I don’t think it’s something that’s tough to ask.”