Tom Werner on D&K acknowledges Red Sox unlikely to reach deal with Mookie Betts this season

Alex Reimer
April 09, 2019 - 12:53 pm

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner says he’s hopeful the team will extend Mookie Betts before the reigning AL MVP reaches free agency in two years, but he recognizes Betts’ right and apparent interest in exploring the open market.

In an interview Tuesday with Dale & Keefe ahead of the home opener, Werner addressed Betts, who was awarded $20 million in arbitration this year. The Red Sox have already inked Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts to long-term, nine-figure extensions, leaving Betts and J.D. Martinez as their next targets.

“We’re hopeful (about Betts),” Werner said. “As you know, he has two years left with the Red Sox, so it’s probably not going to happen now that the season has started. But we’ll get another shot at it next year. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for him to look for the money he deserves. He was an MVP in the league last year and hopefully we’ll come to some sort of understanding.”

While Betts is one of the best and most dynamic players in baseball, he has a relatively scant national profile. That prompted David Price to complain about Betts’ lack of visibility, telling MassLive MLB needs to do a better job marketing African-American players. Werner says he agrees with Price’s general contention, but points out Betts has previously turned down at least one national commercial campaign.

“They did try to schedule something, but the schedules didn’t connect,” Werner said. “Mookie has a standing invitation from MLB to participate in commercials. We know it’s important for him to be one of the faces of baseball, and I think that will get sorted out.”

Betts has taken a cerebral public approach to his pending free agency, saying he wants to be treated fairly and help set the market for other players. It’s the opposite of Sale, who repeatedly stated his desire to remain in Boston. Werner says the Red Sox are thrilled to have Sale, despite his early season dip in velocity.

“We always hoped we could come to an understanding with him. A player does need to understand he has a right to become a free agent at the end of his contract, but Chris, as you all know, is a great leader in the clubhouse,” Werner explained. “He really wanted to stay with the Red Sox and made a deal he thought that would set him up for life, and we made a deal that we thought was a little bit of a hometown discount. I’m proud he’s going to be a Red Sox. He’s got the fire in his belly. He’s going to be great for us for a long time.”

In addition to the status of several star players, pace of play continues to also be a hot topic for Werner, who’s intimately involved in MLB’s marketing efforts. He expressed disappointment with the lack of a pitch clock, which will be held off until at least 2022.

Interestingly enough, Werner said the game is five to 10 minutes too long, so perhaps he thinks tinkering, and not drastic changes, are what need to be implemented.

“I’m not happy with the pace of the pace of play discussion,” he said. “But we’re going to get there. The players know we’re about five to 10 minutes too long.”

Of course, few will be complaining about the length of the home opener Tuesday. The Patriots will be on hand to celebrate as well, much to the dismay of Lou Merloni. Werner says the Red Sox invited the Patriots shortly after the World Series had ended last fall.

“We are part of the greatest time to be living in Boston,” Werner said. “We are the envy of the rest of the country. … They’re going to be part of the ceremony, because we share in their success.”