Red Sox

Mookie Betts doesn't expect to sign contract extension with Red Sox

Mookie Betts doesn't expect to sign contract extension with Red Sox

After Mike Trout signed a gargantuan contract extension with the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday -- the largest in North American sports, to be exact -- many wondered if Mookie Betts would follow suit and re-up with the Boston Red Sox.

Those people can wonder no longer.

Speaking openly about his contract situation Wednesday in Fort Myers, Betts insisted he's not interested in signing an extension before his contract expires and wants to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2020 season.

"That’s exactly what I expect. I don’t expect anything to happen till I’m a free agent," Betts said when asked if he expects to enter this season without a long-term contract, via The Boston Globe's Alex Speier.

Betts also confirmed he rejected the Red Sox's contract extension offer following the 2017 season, reportedly valued at eight years and $200 million.

With Trout inking a ridiculous $35.8-million-per-year contract on the heels of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado's megadeals, Betts probably can maximize his value by testing the free-agent market rather than signing an extension. Case in point: In a column published Wednesday, The Athletic's Jayson Stark revealed an American League executive told him Betts earning a $500 million contract is "a possibility."

Still, the reigning American League MVP wasn't interested in speculating how Trout's deal could affect his price tag.

"I don’t think it really impacts me that much," Betts said, via WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "But it definitely is something positive that is going on in the game and hopefully there is more of it.

"We’re different players. Different players do different things. We do different things."

Betts added he won't ignore the Red Sox's negotiation efforts over the next year-plus, but it sounds like he doesn't want to get undersold, either.

"You can definitely (keep) your ears open and see what's said. But that doesn't mean you necessarily have to agree on or take whatever is given," Betts said, via The Globe's Pete Abraham.

"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."

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Mookie Betts blasts desperately needed homer, but what really mattered was his reaction

Mookie Betts blasts desperately needed homer, but what really mattered was his reaction

The swing looked vintage. The fist pump around the bases felt like a dam bursting.

But for my money, the most encouraging aspect of Mookie Betts' go-ahead homer to center on Friday night was his ear-to-ear grin in the dugout.

Sounds corny, but we haven't seen much in the way of happiness from Betts this season. Mired in a slump that dates to the 2018 postseason, the defending MVP has spent April trying to find his way, with limited success.

On Friday night, however, he showed signs of life. Not coincidentally, so did the Red Sox, taking an embarrassingly important 6-4 victory from the division-leading Rays in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.

After grounding into a double play as the second batter of the game and seeing his average fall to .197, Betts found his groove. He doubled to left leading off the sixth and scored on a J.D. Martinez single. Then he unloaded on a 97-mph, dead-red fastball in the eighth of off Diego Castillo to break a 4-4 tie, slamming it 424 feet to center.

Betts pumped his fist once around second, once as he neared third, and once again as he turned towards home plate. He may not have exhibited the exuberance of, say, his joyous race around the bases after his marathon at-bat grand slam against J.A. Happ last year, but he at least looked more like himself in the dugout.

He ran the high-five gauntlet before breaking into a broad smile, which he repeated moments later at the bat rack.

That's the Betts the Red Sox want to see. That's the Betts the Red Sox need to see. The season hasn't started the way anyone wants, but it's not like it's over.

"When you look around in big league stadiums and there's a lot of -- look everywhere, there's the average," manager Alex Cora told reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. "Back in the day, you didn't have that. You only learned because of the newspaper. Now it's all over the place. Although you don't want to look, it's there for you. It's not cool when you're struggling.

"It's hard to smile when you're struggling. But he prepares, gives 100 percent regardless of the results. Sometimes, yeah, he gets down, because he knows what he can do. But just like the team, it's a long season. Still got plenty of games. Good to see him doing that."

Betts takes his struggles very seriously, which is why he termed his play unacceptable last week. The concept of a short memory doesn't always apply. He wears it when things aren't going well, and he'll work himself to exhaustion trying to make it right.

He needed to feel rewarded.

"He keeps working," Cora told reporters. "He was hitting .380 or .400 last year and kept working the same way. He tries to be the best out there. He showed up today and worked his swing and didn't start the right way, but the double, then he crushed that pitch. It's good to see him contribute."

Cora has insisted for the last week that a hitter as talented as Betts can turn things around with just one swing. Who knows? 
Maybe this was the one.

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Highlights from the Red Sox' 6-4 win over the Rays

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Highlights from the Red Sox' 6-4 win over the Rays

FINAL SCORE: Red Sox 6, Rays 4

IN BRIEF: Back-to-back home runs from Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland in the eighth inning propelled the Red Sox over the Rays on Friday night.  BOX SCORE

RED SOX RECORD: 7-13

HIGHLIGHTS:

2nd inning
Brandon Lowe solo home run (TB 1-0)

3rd inning
Avisail Garcia RBI triple (TB 2-0)

5th inning
Rafael Devers RBI double (TB 2-1)

Christian Vazquez two-run home run (BOS 3-2)

6th inning
J.D. Martinez RBI single (BOS 4-2)

Daniel Robertson two-run double (4-4)

8th inning
Mookie Betts solo home run (BOS 5-4)

Mitch Moreland solo home run (BOS 6-4)

UP NEXT:
At Rays, Saturday, 6:10 p.m., NESN
At Rays, Sunday, 2:05 p.m., NESN
vs Tigers, Monday, 7:10 p.m., NESN

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