The next Major League Baseball superstar to break the bank with a record-setting contract could be Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts.
The 26-year-old veteran is a World Series champion, an American League MVP winner, a four-time AL All-Star and has taken home AL Gold Glove awards in three consecutive seasons. Betts is a five-tool player and an ideal star to have as the face of a franchise.
Despite all of that, there are still questions -- fair or unfair -- about his affinity for Boston and whether he'll re-sign with the Red Sox when his contract expires after the 2020 season.
Betts, speaking on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" afternoon show Tuesday, shut down the notion that he doesn't like Boston.
“No matter what I say, people are going to have their opinions and there's nothing you can do about that," Betts said. "But I've made it known this is my second home. I've been here, this is all I know. I’ve loved it here. I love the fans, everybody -- my teammates, front office, everybody here. That doesn’t change the business of baseball and what value is there.
"I don’t want to go down that path, but for people who don't think I enjoy it here, I love it here. I come here in the winter time just to come hang out with friends and whatnot. My family loves coming up here and going to do things. It’s not that I don’t like Boston at all.”
Betts has every right to consider any and all offers if he reaches free agency. The market for MLB free agents was pretty rough for a lot of players last winter, but most of the elite players still got paid in a huge way. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper signed $300 million and $330 million contracts, respectively, and neither player is as talented as Betts. Barring an injury or some unforeseen dip in performance, it wouldn't be too surprising if Betts became the highest-paid player in MLB history with his next deal.
It also would behoove the Red Sox to lock up Betts to an extension ASAP, but it takes two sides to make a deal. Betts has made it clear he likes Boston, and at some point he'll have to decide if it's where he'll spend most of his professional career.
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