The realities of baseball can be harsh, and Boston Red Sox fans have found that out firsthand this offseason.
The Red Sox traded their best player, Mookie Betts, and starting pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for three young players earlier this month. Betts is entering the final year of his contract, and he's expected to land one of the richest deals in MLB history when his next one is signed. Losing Betts for nothing in free agency didn't make sense for the Red Sox, and they decided to get in front of that scenario by moving him prior to the 2020 season.
Red Sox legend David Ortiz spoke to reporters at the team's spring training facility Thursday and gave his thoughts on the Betts trade.
“Unfortunately, this game, it’s not just a game. It’s business,” Ortiz said. “Mookie’s situation, it’s hard to give up someone like him, someone like David Price. What they bring to the table, it’s more than enough. On the business side, we also know that Mookie is going to be a guy that’s going to get a deal close to what Mike Trout has. I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen at some point. I guess that’s the difference between having him here and having him going to L.A.
"We all understand that. I know fans are hurting a little bit because you let a franchise player go somewhere else, but that’s the tricky part about baseball. You fall in love with players, and the business side of it sometimes doesn’t allow the team to keep up with them, and it’s always that one time where you have to say goodbye like the conversations with Mookie and David Price. But it’s guys who did what they were supposed to do when they were here, and the fans are always going to appreciate that, and us in our conversation are always going appreciate the same, it’s going to be the same way. Always wishing them the best, and it don’t stop the train.”
Ortiz understands that players must do what's best for them and their family. One part of that process is maximizing your value because massive contracts like the one Betts is expected to sign as a free agent don't come around too often.
“Sometimes, people think that as a player we get greedy when it comes down to contracts,” Ortiz said. “But it only goes around once. It doesn’t go around twice. It goes around once and you’ve got to get what you have earned, because nobody gives you anything in this game. You’ve got to earn it. Mookie has earned every single dollar that he’s going to get. If I’m him, I’m not going to leave $50 (million), $60 (million), $70 million on the table out there just because, you know what I’m saying? It is what it is.
"We had a good offer for him, but I understand that he somewhere else was going to get more. I think the Red Sox’ decision with him was perfect, because you’re just not going to let a great player go after the season. Before the season even begins you try to get something in exchange that you can have for a long period of time. For both sides, I think it was really good. Plus, we all know that we are trying to reduce payroll. It’s just something that it wasn’t surprising. I wasn't expecting it this early, but I knew something was going to happen. It happened early enough. Like I said, this business, it is what it is.”