Red Sox

Mookie Betts isn't the Red Sox mishandled negotiation Tom Werner loses sleep over

Mookie Betts isn't the Red Sox mishandled negotiation Tom Werner loses sleep over

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tom Werner still wonders about one who got away, and it's not Mookie Betts.

The Red Sox chairman wishes the Red Sox could've found a way to keep the All-Star outfielder, but he doesn't regret the team's offers, which he considered aggressive.

There is one player he wishes the team had handled differently, though.

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"I go to sleep at night thinking that maybe we could've made another offer to Jon Lester that maybe would've bridged the gap," Werner admitted on Monday. "I think we made (Betts) what we consider fair and generous offers. As John (Henry) said, I think it was all right for Mookie to want to test the market."

The Red Sox botched the Lester negotiations in spring training of 2014, offering the homegrown All-Star left-hander a four-year, $70 million contract. Lester's camp never even countered, believing the gulf between the team's offer and their ask would make them look greedy once it inevitably leaked.

They were probably onto something, because not long ago WEEI's Lou Merloni reported that Red Sox offered Betts a 10-year contract worth roughly $300 million, while the player countered at 12 years and $420 million, a figure the Red Sox simply weren't willing to reach.

"Free agency plays into many decisions clubs like ours have to make," Henry said. "Today's players spend years in the minor and major leagues earning the right to be paid in a free market, earning the right to make choices. They make significant sacrifices to get there and they deserve what they receive."

Things worked out for Lester. He was traded to the A's that July before signing a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs. The Red Sox engaged with him that offseason, but fell well short of Chicago's offer, instead entering 2015 with the five aces that turned out to be zero aces en route to another last-place finish.

All Lester has done since is make two All-Star teams, finish second in the Cy Young voting, win at least 18 games twice, and lead the Cubs to their first World Series in over 100 years.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, overcompensated for his loss not once, but twice, first by signing David Price to a record seven-year, $217 million albatross of a contract to replace him, and then by extending ace Chris Sale last spring, despite injury concerns, to avoid a repeat of the Lester fiasco.

Rafael Devers rejoins Red Sox workouts after COVID-19 scare

Rafael Devers rejoins Red Sox workouts after COVID-19 scare

Rafael Devers didn't work out with his teammates at Fenway Park for the first week of summer camp because the Red Sox feared he had been exposed to COVID-19.

After three tests came up negative, however, Devers was cleared to return and joined his teammates at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for live batting practice.

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He had been working out at Boston College with other possible positive cases, manager Ron Roenicke said, out of an abundance of caution.

"We had some guys that were possibly exposed to somebody with coronavirus," Roenicke said via Zoom on Wednesday. "This group has tested negative three times. We will continue to test them, just because we're being overly cautious. That's kind of why we've separated some of the guys from the later workouts."

Devers hopes to bat in Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage, Roenicke said, because he's anxious to lock in his timing at the plate against big league pitching. If all goes well, he'd likely play third base in Friday's scrimmage.

"He's concerned about seeing velocity," Roenicke said. "We were able to do that over there with him with the pitching machine in the cage. He'll do that again and see live BP today, which is helpful, and then if he's ready for a couple of at-bats, we'll have him in the intrasquad tomorrow."

Added Roenicke: "I know with him, he's a little concerned, because he's trying to catch up and make sure he's getting all the work in that he needs."

There's no overstating Devers' importance to the lineup after a breakout 2019 in which he hit .311 with 32 homers, 115 RBIs, and a league-leading 54 doubles and 359 total bases.

With Mookie Betts in Los Angeles, Devers is expected to be one of the driving forces in the lineup, alongside Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.

 

Alex Verdugo already impressing Red Sox teammate Xander Bogaerts in camp

Alex Verdugo already impressing Red Sox teammate Xander Bogaerts in camp

The Boston Red Sox didn't acquire any top prospects or young stars in the trade that sent former American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this year.

The most MLB-ready player in the deal was outfielder Alex Verdugo, who could be an important part of Boston's lineup during the shortened 60-game season.

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Verdugo hit .294 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 106 games for the Dodgers last season. A back injury was expected to delay his readiness for the 2020 MLB season had it begun as scheduled in late March, but with the COVID-19 pandemic delaying Opening Day to July 24, the 24-year-old outfielder is now healthy and ready to get his Red Sox career going.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is impressed with what he's seen from Verdugo so far.

“I saw him take BP yesterday,” Bogaerts told reporters Tuesday in a Zoom call, per MassLive. “He was hitting that ball pretty good, to be honest. I was watching him from the top of my suite. He came here and he was hurt and he was getting treatments, so I didn’t see a lot of him while he was with us (in spring training). Obviously, only with the Dodgers. But he seemed pretty good and obviously that’s going to be a guy that we lean heavy on. And he’s healthy. So the more guys that are healthy, the better.”

The Red Sox should still have one of the best lineups in the AL this season, even without Betts' bat.

Boston's lineup consists of some really good hitters, most notably Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers. The Sox might have to slug their way to a postseason berth given the concerns over their pitching staff, particularly the starting rotation. A healthy and productive Verdugo would be a major asset for the Red Sox as they try to get off to a fast start once the regular season begins later this month.