Red Sox

Tomase: It's time for Mookie Betts to tell the Red Sox what he really wants

Tomase: It's time for Mookie Betts to tell the Red Sox what he really wants

It's the question none of us can really answer: What does Mookie Betts want?

As the Red Sox embark on their most momentous offseason since Theo Epstein took the helm 17 years ago, determining Betts's future is the primary item on chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom's agenda.

But beyond a stated desire to reach free agency, we know frustratingly little about Betts's long-term goals. Does he want to stay in Boston? Does he want to be the highest-paid player in the game? Would he like to play closer to his home in Tennessee? Might he want to give the National League a try?

During Bloom's introductory press conference, owner John Henry shed some light on how the Betts conundrum factored into the interview process. And his answer revealed the key unknown the Red Sox are grappling with as they try to determine whether to keep or trade their homegrown MVP.

"It was more of a general discussion," Henry said. "We talked about Mookie, J.D., other issues, but we didn't focus on, oh, what should we do? Because you're going to be looking at a number of factors, including where Mookie wants to play for the long term."

"Including where Mookie wants to play for the long term" suggests the Red Sox have their doubts that place is Boston, which is a reasonable position to take. Though Betts periodically declared his love for the city last season, usually in response to suggestions that he's looking forward to taking his talents elsewhere, actions matter more than words.

And thus far, Betts has shown little inclination to engage with the Red Sox on a long-term extension, even though the parameters should be pretty clear, as Harold Reynolds noted on the MLB Network. CEO Sam Kennedy recently told MassLive.com that the sides haven't talked extension yet, but it feels like that conversation could be a one-and-done proposition, because the market is well-established. 

Betts can rightly argue that he's better than both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. The Red Sox can counter that he's a good couple of notches below perennial MVP favorite Mike Trout.

It just so happens that all three signed massive contracts last winter. The Phillies gave Harper 13 years and $330 million. Machado signed with San Diego for 10 years and $300 million. Trout then trumped them both by inking a massive 12-year, $430 million extension.

Slotting Betts onto that continuum isn't particularly challenging. He falls between Harper and Trout, though his relative lack of size makes him a bigger breakdown risk. But let's just split the difference between $330 and $430 and say he's worth $380 million at the high end of the scale and $350 million on the low end. An offer would then take shape thusly: 10-12 years for $350-$380 million.

If Betts agrees, then sign him up, accept that you're not dropping the payroll below $208 million this winter, and start planning for a future built around Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez. (I've already argued that 10-year, $300 million contracts are bad business no matter who's signing them, but it's not my money).

If he balks, which feels more likely, then the Red Sox should begin trade talks the second they hang up the phone, because carrying him into the season risks losing him for nothing. While they could try to ship him out by July 31, how do they make that case if they're contending? Better to tear off the band-aid and start planning for life after Betts immediately.

There's no reason to let this uncertainty linger. Mookie's market is clear. Put the ball in his court and see what he does with it.

TOMASE: Why it makes sense for Boston to keep Martinez over Betts>>>

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Josh Beckett joins several ex-Red Sox on 2020 Hall of Fame ballot

Josh Beckett joins several ex-Red Sox on 2020 Hall of Fame ballot

The Boston Red Sox again will be in the thick of the Baseball Hall of Fame conversation next year.

The Hall of Fame released its official 2020 ballot Monday, with 32 former players listed as eligible to be elected in the class of 2020.

The list includes 18 newcomers, headlined by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who should be a shoo-in. But three former Red Sox players also landed on the 2020 ballot: pitcher Josh Beckett, first baseman Carlos Peña and pitcher Brad Penny.

Beckett spent six-plus seasons with the Red Sox from 2006 to 2012 and put up some of his best numbers in Boston, making three All-Star teams and earning American League Championship Series MVP honors en route to a World Series title in 2007.

Peña only played 18 games in Boston during the 2006 season and spent most of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers. He grew up in Haverhill, Mass., though, and played college baseball at Northeastern University.

Penny appeared in just 24 games for the Red Sox during the 2009 season after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That trio joins four other former Red Sox on the 2020 ballot, listed below by percentage of votes they received in 2019:

- Curt Schilling: 60.9 percent (7th year on ballot)
- Roger Clemens: 59.5 percent (7th year)
- Manny Ramirez: 22.8 percent (3rd year)
- Billy Wagner: 16.7 percent (4th year)

Players must receive 75 percent of votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America within their first 10 years of eligibility to reach the Hall. Schilling and Clemens were the top two players to miss the 2019 cut, while the other ex-Sox have a long way to go.

We'll find out voting results for the 2020 class on Jan. 21.

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Forget about Bloomingdale's — Red Sox will be shopping at this defunct discounter all winter

Forget about Bloomingdale's — Red Sox will be shopping at this defunct discounter all winter

The Omni Resort in Scottsdale features nearly 300 rooms spread across a series of villas at the foot of Camelback Mountain.

When the Red Sox contingent of Chaim Bloom, Brian O'Halloran, Raquel Ferreira, Eddie Romero, and Zack Scott arrived for the GM Meetings last week, they checked into Building 19, which caught the attention of an executive with New England ties.

"You know what that is, right?" he asked.

Of course, came the reply. It's where they're going to be shopping this winter.

For those who aren't local, Building 19 was a chain of discount department stores founded in Hingham with a motto of, "Good stuff cheap." They operated for nearly 50 years before declaring bankruptcy in 2013, and they specialized in the flotsam of everyone else's damaged, discontinued, or flawed remainders.

If there's a more apt description of how the Red Sox will fill their roster while cutting costs and maybe dropping the payroll below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, it's not springing to mind. Whether or not they trade Mookie Betts, they'll dumpster dive this winter, flipping through piles of irregular area rugs, stacks of Nikes with swooshes slightly askew, and reams of unicorn calendars that have gifted September a 31st day.

As monster free agents like Astros ace Gerrit Cole, Nationals counterpart Stephen Strasburg, or postseason star Anthony Rendon prepare to hit free agency, the Red Sox will be wandering the consignment bins, hoping to unearth a dusty dinged-up treasure.

That's a far cry from 2016, when the Red Sox and White Sox met at the very same resort to begin the discussions that ended with All-Star left-hander Chris Sale being shipped to Boston for stud prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech a month later.

"This is where we started our rebuild in earnest," noted White Sox GM Rick Hahn. "We were excited to get this process started, where we got the Bostons and the Nationals and the teams talking about acquiring premium talent and using premium prospects to get it."

The Red Sox aren't rebuilding so much as retooling, and while we've debated whether cutting salary is a suggestion or a mandate, there's no question that ownership won't endure a straight rebuild, not with a payroll north of $200 million and premium talents like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez still on the roster.

Some aren't entirely convinced the Red Sox will cut payroll at all. Chief among them is super-agent Scott Boras, who obviously has a vested interest in the Red Sox continuing to spend prolifically.

"I don't know that that's true, by the way, because I have not heard that from ownership," he said last week when asked about the team slashing payroll. "Until John (Henry) or Tom (Werner) tell me that that's their objective. . . . Again, I have spoken to them and until they tell me that publicly, I would not in any way think anything other than that they're always winning owners who are trying to win again and again and again.

"If your goal is 'threshold,' then I believe you have to say that if that is a priority, a principal priority, rather than winning, I think it's something you say to your fans. I think you need to tell them that our goal is to operate to limits, and in no circumstance does winning get in the way to our primary goal. You know what? I've yet to hear an owner say that to his fanbase."

It's possible to have it both ways, though, as Bloom proved in Tampa, Derek Falvey is proving in Minnesota, and even Andrew Friedman has done in Los Angeles, where the big-market Dodgers have hacked nearly $100 million from their once-bloated payroll to create a much leaner contender.

That's going to require creativity of the type we laid out in the dissection of Tampa's three-way deal with the Rangers and A's that brought hard-throwing reliever Emilio Pagan to the Trop last winter. Bloom's Rays proved over and over that they could unearth winning players in unexpected places, and he'll need to bring that magic to a Red Sox club that will be looking to fill holes at first, second, starter, reliever, and almost certainly outfield when Betts and/or Jackie Bradley is inevitably moved this winter.

Plugging all of those needs won't be easy, unless you know where to look. Bloom's track record suggests he won't be embarrassed to bargain hunt. Maybe he'll even find some good stuff, cheap.

Ranking MLB's Top free agents of offseason>>>>

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