David Ortiz might want to see Mookie Betts remain with the Boston Red Sox for a long time but the legendary slugger seems resigned to seeing the star right fielder wearing a different uniform sooner than later.
Trade speculation centering on Betts has increased drastically this week, with some of the sport’s top reporters believing Betts will be traded (likely to the Los Angeles Dodgers) in the very near future. If and when that happens, it will be part of the Red Sox’s quest to lower payroll while also cashing in on Betts while they still can, apparently believing they can’t re-sign him to a long-term contract extension before he hits free agency after the 2020 season.
Ortiz, no stranger to contract negotiations and the fallout that comes with it, understands where both sides are coming from and has already started to brace himself for the seemingly inevitable blockbuster.
“Listen, it’s going to be the last year of his deal,” Ortiz said in an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” at Radio Row “I don’t think the Red Sox, because we have one of the highest payrolls, you know, out of everybody in the big leagues. And I don’t think our owner John Henry would want to go past that.
“To sign a guy like my boy Mookie, what you have, I think you have a certain amount of money (to) offer. He wants a different amount. I think it will just blow the payroll for the Red Sox. So this is a time for the Red Sox, they’re gonna make a move with him to do it right now so they can get some draft pick, some prospect.”
The two main teams reportedly in trade discussions with the Red Sox recently have been the Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Both teams have top-five farm systems, and landing any number of those teams’ prospects would improve Boston’s young talent immediately. There’s no guarantee those players will develop into stars on Betts’ level — that almost certainly won’t happen — but Ortiz believes the Red Sox have to take their chances while they can.
“That’s when you take advantage of having a guy like him (on) your side,” Ortiz continued. “And when you know that you can afford to pay him. So what you do? You trade him and get some young talent that, I’m not gonna say that you’re gonna go out there and get a Mookie Betts because you don’t see a Mookie Betts every day.
“But players develop, players get to a certain level, player get to learn. You know how the game is right now, that everybody’s 19, 20. You go there and chase that. You know that when you trade guys like Mookie Betts somewhere else, you’re going to get really good stuff.”
If and when the Red Sox make that trade, they need to ensure they’re getting back plenty of that “really good stuff” Ortiz mentions, and they better hope it becomes great.