Mookie Betts seems content to take the Godfather approach to contract negotiations — nothing personal, only business.
But in an interview with WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, he reveals the one time that strategy was sorely put to the test.
Before the 2017 season, the Red Sox came to Betts with a long-term contract extension. Though terms weren't disclosed, only a year later Betts would turn down a reported eight-year, $200 million offer.
Prior to 2017, Betts wasn't even arbitration-eligible, but he was clearly a burgeoning superstar. He had just finished second in the MVP voting to Mike Trout at the age of 23, and the Red Sox made an aggressive offer to keep him long-term.
Betts consulted with his family, who had instilled in him the belief that decisions should be made only when they were divorced from emotion.
"That was a really emotional time because I was like, 'Mom, we've never seen this amount of money,'" Betts told Bradford in Texas. "She was like, 'OK, cool. It's a lot of money. I think we know it's a lot of money. So let's focus on the facts. Let's focus on what is real and we took the emotions out of it.' The first one was definitely the hardest. At the time we had never seen anything like that."
Betts ended up playing that season for $950,000 before earning $10.5 million a year later in arbitration and then winning the MVP award. He avoided arbitration this year by agreeing to a one-year, $20 million contract, and barring an extension this winter, he'll probably play next season for around $30 million.
Though 2019 feels like a down year, Betts has surged since July to post .294-29-79 numbers with 134 runs and a .917 OPS.
The Red Sox face a crossroads decision this winter, since Betts is entering his final year of arbitration. If they don't believe they can sign him, they may have to trade him. Either way, Betts believes he will earn what he deserves.
"It's how I was raised to look at the thing," he said. "As a whole, when it comes to business in general, whether it's buying a building or contract negotiations or whatever it is, you have to take emotions out of it. That's what people forget. Fans and media get caught up in emotions and that's just not how I was raised and that's just not what my point of view with my agents is. We take emotions out of it and we focus on the business part. Of course, I love it here. This is all I know. But you also have to take that emotional side out of it and get to what is actually real."
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