Mookie Betts cannot hit MLB free agency until after the 2020 season, but that hasn't stopped people from talking about what his next contract will look like, and if the Boston Red Sox will be the team giving him that contract.
The Red Sox outfielder is coming off a 2018 season during which he won the American League MVP award and the World Series. Betts also must have been happy to see players such as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout recently sign $330 million and $430 million contracts, respectively, knowing he should be able to earn an extension in that range.
It would behoove the Red Sox to sign Betts as soon as possible, but it doesn't seem likely that a new deal for him will come during the 2019 season. Red Sox chairman Tom Werner talked about that subject Tuesday on WEEI's "Dale & Keefe."
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"We're hopeful (about signing Betts)," Werner said. "Of course, you know, he has two more years (left) with the Red Sox. It's probably not going to happen now that the season has started. We'll get another shot at it next year. Our hope is that he will also play out the rest of his career with the Red Sox."
Does Werner get the sense Betts wants to be in Boston long-term?
"I do," he said. "But when you wake up in the morning and read Mike Trout made $400 million, I think it's perfectly appropriate for him to look for the money he deserves. He was the MVP of the league last year. Hopefully, we'll come to some sort of understanding."
It makes sense for Betts to test free agency, even if he wants to return to the Red Sox. You might as well see what kind of offers are out there, and it's easy to imagine a long list of teams lining up for Betts' services if he did hit the open market.
Betts, in addition to his 2018 AL MVP, is a three-time AL Gold Glove winner, a three-time AL All-Star and a 2018 AL batting champion. He's also in the prime of his career, and his five-tool skill set makes him a favorite among fans across the league.
The Red Sox would be wise to make Betts the face of the franchise for a long time. But it takes two willing sides for that to happen, and time will tell if Betts wants to remain in Boston long-term.
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