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Mookie Betts keeping close tabs on Bryce Harper's free agency

Rob Bradford
July 16, 2018 - 7:21 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Mookie Betts still has another couple of rounds of arbitration before hitting the free agent market. But that doesn't mean he is downplaying the importance of what will unfold this coming offseason.

The Red Sox outfielder admitted during the media session at the All-Star festivities at Nationals Park Monday that he will be keeping a close eye on where soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper lands when it comes to his next contract. Harper is, after all, nine days younger than Betts.

"I’m really curious to see how it’s going to play out," Betts said. "We’ll see what kind of records he breaks. We all know what kind of player he is. I think that may affect some things going forward."

With Betts making $10.5 million this season after winning his arbitration case, the 25-year-old finds him closer and closer to the open market and an epic payday. And while he has made it clear that there have been no extension talks during this season, the idea of what might lay ahead is clearly intriguing, particularly with the likes of Harper and Manny Machado (3 months, day older than Betts) lining up for free agency after this season.

"Definitely," said Betts when asked if he is paying attention to his contemporaries' potential paydays. "Things kind of come full circle now. My peers are going through what is soon to come. I’ll definitely be locked in to see what they get."

Some other notable items from Betts' 45 minutes with the media ...

- While shying away from MVP talk, Betts did clarify one of his personal goals.

"Pedey (Dustin Pedroia) told me something I think back in 2015 that every year your goal should be to get to 200 runs created combined. So whether it be RBI and runs scored, try and get that number," he said. "That’s kind of been my goal every year. He said if you can get to 200 that means your an elite  player, an elite run producer so that’s been my goal."

- Betts admitted that his stomach muscle ailment, which put him on the disabled list, was problematic even after his return June 11. In his first seven games back, the leadoff man totaled just a .185 batting average and .630 OPS. 

"It's totally gone now," he said. "It lingered around a little longer than I thought."

- When asked about the highlight from his previous two All-Star appearances, Betts identified facing the late Jose Fernandez.

- Betts downplayed the notion he is a face of baseball, explaining, "You kind of see it. You just understand I have to take care of business no matter what. All that stuff is pushed to the side knowing you have to take care of business."

- On J.D. Martinez: "He’s given us a new outlook on swings, for sure. He’s not just a home run hitter."

- On something that has surprised him this season: "I knew I could hit some home runs, but I didn’t know I could do what I’m doing."

- On the promotion of baseball players: "I think there are a lot of superstars in baseball. It’s just a matter of them getting seen."

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