Red Sox

Red Sox star Mookie Betts' focus on next World Series title, not new contract

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USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox star Mookie Betts' focus on next World Series title, not new contract

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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Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

As the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLS prepare to resume play in the near future, Major League Baseball still can't get out of its own way.

MLB reportedly rejected the Players Association's proposal Wednesday for a 114-game season in 2020 and apparently doesn't plan to make a counter-offer.

The league and the players have refused to budge on the issues dividing them: Players don't want to take an additional pay cut after agreeing to prorated salaries in March, while the owners are wary of extending the season too long due to the coronavirus pandemic and want players to agree to further reduced salaries to mitigate lost revenue.

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That stalemate has cost MLB valuable time, however, as the league doesn't appear close to beginning its 2020 regular season as the calendar turns to June.

So, who's to blame here? Lou Merloni believes it's everyone involved.

The former Boston Red Sox infielder ripped into both the league and the union Wednesday night during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston.

"Both sides suck, OK? That's the bottom line," Merloni said. "The Players Association comes back and says, 'Not 82 (games), we want 114' when they know that's the non-starter. The owners don't want to sit there and play until November. They're worried about the pandemic; they've got to get the playoffs in. And then the owners come back and say we're not even going to counter?

"Jesus, we're like a month into this thing. Can you string this thing out (any longer)? How about go in one room together and try to figure this out in a day or two?"

Compounding MLB's issue is that the NBA is expected to announce a return-to-play plan Thursday that would resume the 2019-20 season in late July. The MLS and NHL also have made headwinds toward resuming their seasons this summer -- which means baseball is wasting a much-needed opportunity to showcase itself as the only active pro sports league.

"I mean, you're running out of time and you're only screwing yourself. Even if baseball does come back, people have already said, 'I've had enough of you.' It's been like a month, a year, and you guys talk and bitch about this thing publicly. I don't give a crap anymore. I've got hockey, basketball, football is around the corner, hell, soccer is around the corner. I'm good.

"They don't even realize it! It's like they're in this bubble and they don't even realize what's going on around them right now. Figure this thing out: 70 games, 65, prorated (salaries), start playing some baseball, because your ass better be first coming back. If not, people are going to be done."

There's reportedly some optimism that the players and the union will resolve their differences and put a return plan in place. But with nearly one-third of the season already lost, the clock is ticking.

Check out Merloni's full comments in the video player above.

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

There's only one choice for best designated hitter in Red Sox history, but just in case there's any doubt, we'll quote broadcaster Dave O'Brien with the signature call from his WEEI days: "DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ!"

No sense in even pretending there's any suspense on this one.

What's fascinating about ranking the Red Sox DHs, however, is just how few of them have actually held down the position for any length of time over the years.

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Only nine players have made at least 200 appearances there with the Red Sox since the DH was introduced in 1973, and four of them — Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, and Manny Ramirez — have already appeared elsewhere in our outfield rankings.

That leaves five men to fill out the list, and about the only difficult omission is slugger Jose Canseco, who made 184 appearances between 1995 and 1996.

Click here for the Top 5 DHs in Red Sox history.