There's been plenty of trade speculation involving Mookie Betts throughout the MLB offseason, but it sounds like he'll be in the Boston Red Sox lineup when Opening Day arrives March 26.
“That’s really been my expectation all along,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said at Wednesday's press conference when asked about expecting Betts to be on Opening Day roster.
“I think big picture, and this applies to everything, we’re not doing our jobs if we’re not open to everything that improves our chances to compete as successfully and as often as possible over the course of the next decade. That has kind of been our guiding principle as we have assessed interest in any of our players. But you do that with the expectation that they will be here. And that will certainly be the case with Mookie.”
Betts is one of the best players in baseball and a rare five-tool star. He played a pivotal role in the Red Sox winning the 2018 World Series and also won the American League MVP award that season.
Betts is going to command a mammoth contract in the near future. He's able to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season, and it wouldn't be crazy to think his next contract could be worth $300 million or more. The Red Sox have to decide how far they want to go in paying Betts to remain the face of the franchise. If it reaches a point where bringing him back doesn't make sense financially, a trade is the best option to get some kind of value in return. Losing a player of Betts' caliber for nothing in free agency would be a massive blow to the franchise.
The Red Sox do have some time, though. The trade deadline isn't until July, and they could always extend Betts before free agency if both sides find a number that works.
The more pressing need for the Sox over the next few weeks is finding a new manager. The club and Alex Cora "mutually agreed to part ways" earlier this week after the Red Sox manager was among the main subjects in Major League Baseball's report on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing operation used in 2017.