Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts' next contract is going to be the biggest off-the-field story surrounding the franchise until the outfielder makes a decision on his future, but right now, he's squarely focused on winning the second World Series championship of his career.
Betts is able to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 MLB season, but he's not giving the scenario too much thought at the moment, per the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham.
“No. I’m thinking about us trying to win the World Series again,” Betts said. “It’s 2019, that’s not what I’m worried about. When 2020 comes, we’ll worry about 2020. Then I’ll worry about whatever happens after that.
“I’ve always been able to compartmentalize things like that. My contract is not on my to-do list right now.”
Betts is one of the two or three best players in baseball and won the American League MVP, a silver slugger, a batting title, a Gold Glove and the World Series all in a stellar 2018 campaign.
He's off to a solid start in 2019, too, batting .298 with seven home runs, 23 RBI and a .408 on-base percentage through 45 games. Betts' improved play after a slow start has been among the main reasons why Boston has gone 13-5 in its last 18 games to climb above the .500 mark and get back into the American League East race.
The Red Sox no doubt want Betts to remain with the franchise on a long-term basis. Team chairman Tom Werner said as much right before the 2019 campaign began.
“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."
Securing Betts' signature on a new contract will come at a very steep price, and possibly a record-breaking one, too. Betts has watched Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout and Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper, two outfielders the Red Sox star stacks up well against statistically, recently sign new contracts for $400 million and $330 million, respectively. Betts should absolutely seek a new deal in the ballpark of $300 million to $400 million, particularly when you factor in his extraordinary talent, past success, age and what he means for the business side of the Red Sox.
It is encouraging for the team, however, that he's not thinking too much about his next contract. The Red Sox, despite their improved performance in May, still have plenty of ground to make up in the AL playoff races, and they need Betts to play at an MVP-caliber level if the team is going to reach the 2019 postseason and earn an opportunity to defend its crown.
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