Mookie Betts mum on contract, confused by baseball's screwed-up free agent market

John Tomase
February 14, 2019 - 6:50 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. --  Mookie Betts won't be a free agent until 2021, and that's probably a good thing, because he has no idea what to make of the current market.

With prime-age superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado unsigned, and perennial All-Stars like Craig Kimbrel still awaiting contract offers, Betts can't even begin to decide what to do about his own long-term situation after agreeing to a one-year, $20 million contract with the Red Sox and avoiding arbitration.

"It's definitely something that's not good, especially with those guys," Betts said. "There are a bunch of guys that haven't signed. I don't want to speak for them regarding free agency and how they're handling it, but I think it's definitely not a good thing. You could probably make an All-Star team with the free agents that are still out there. We definitely need to get those guys to spring training."

Betts is signed, sealed, and delivered after winning the American League MVP award and leading the Red Sox to a World Series title.

"Just a fun process," Betts said. "It has its good and bad. It's definitely part of baseball, part of the business. I'm definitely happy we came to an agreement. Those type of things are tough to do. For us to come to an agreement is definitely a good thing."

Whether Boston will be Betts' home beyond 2020 is anyone's guess. He laid out the challenges of playing here and how he copes with them.

"Boston definitely is a tough atmosphere," he said. "Not everyone is cut out for it, like you said. I use it as reverse psychology. I know I have to put on this uniform and I have to go out and play. I let the fans kind of pressure me into playing good. It's one of those things where you know each and every night you have to play your A-game or they'll let you know. Some people can handle it. Some people can't."

Betts looks like someone who can, although until baseball sorts out its market paralysis, he's not sure what to do about a long-term extension.

"Contract and those type of things are kind of tough to do, especially with the market being kind of how it is," he said. "I will say that my teammates, my coaches, and everybody around, I have a great deal of respect for, for the front office."