Josh Beckett has contract advice for guys like Rafael Devers, Eduardo Rodriguez

Rob Bradford
May 06, 2020 - 12:04 pm

Josh Beckett has an interesting story to tell regarding what led to his first big contract as a Major League Baseball player.

The deal would come midway through Beckett's first season with the Red Sox in 2006 with the pitcher agreeing to a three-year, $30 million extension, eliminating his chance to become a free agent following the 2007 season. It was an agreement that was hatched in early July of that season with Beckett's ERA sitting near 5.00.

"They waited for me to struggle for three or four starts. It’s brilliant," Beckett said while appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast. "(Former Red Sox manager) Terry Francona comes out and I’m literally taking ground balls at short during batting practice —deep short because I wasn’t allowed inside the line — Terry Francona comes out and he goes, ‘Do you like it here?’ And I go, ‘Hell yeah I like it here. Are you kidding me? I love it here.’ He’s like, ‘Well, what would you think about signing an extension?’ I’m struggling! So mentally I’m thinking, ‘What? There is no way they want to sign me to a contract.’ I just gave up four home runs in three innings. These guys want to sign me? You betcha. But I did like it there.

"That first contract to me just sets you up and gives you validation and gives you a peace of mind to go out there and not have 50 percent of your worry being on your injuries and the other 50 being on execution. Now you have 80 or 90 percent on execution and 10 or 20 on your health."

For Beckett, the contract not only eased the anxiety of the slow start in 2006 but also allowed him to limit the anxiety over a shoulder which MRIs had revealed wasn't without problems.

And while the pitcher would have cashed in on a significantly higher payday if he chose to venture into free agency after 2007 -- a season he finished second in the American League Cy Young while turning in a historic postseason run -- Beckett has no regrets.

In fact, he uses that example for younger players -- such as Rafael Devers and Eduardo Rodriguez -- deciding on whether or not to commit to their first big contract.

For Beckett, that first extension ultimately led the now-retired pitcher to a four-year, $68 million contract that extended from 2011-14.

"I used to tell guys that first contract is for peace of mind," Beckett explained. "Everything you do after that, if you want to go to free agency I’m fine with that. But set yourself up with some sort of nest egg that if it doesn’t work out ... I don’t blame anybody for signing their first contract, whatever it may be. Even if it looks like you totally got screwed on it. I know agents and the players association do not agree with that. I used to tell young guys that. I would say, ‘Hey, your first deal, it ain’t about your agent. It ain’t about the Players Association, even though I’m a huge fan of the Players Association. Your first deal is to set you up where you can go out there and freely pitch and everything else after that you do whatever you want to do.’ I think for me, part of the goal was to make sure everything that had happened didn’t happen for no reason where I end up being some 40-year-old doesn’t have any money. Obviously I got fortunate and I signed a couple of more deals after that. We’re good now."