By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When Mookie Betts turned down what was reported to be a 10-year, $300 million deal from the Boston Red Sox, he was betting on himself. Sure, he was taking on the risk of injury or underperformance, but as one of the best baseball players in the world, he believed that he’d be able to earn even more money if he kept playing until he reached free agency.
What Mookie Betts was not accounting for was a global pandemic, one that dramatically altered every single thing that could have been planned within Major League Baseball.
Now with MLB trying to start a 60-game season with no fans in attendance, the economic environment that will surround Betts’ upcoming free agency is undeniably different. Some people have already speculated that any potential offers for Betts will be at least $100 million lower than they would have been during normal times. Despite that reality, Betts said this week that he has no regrets for turning down Boston’s offer.
“I don’t. Don’t regret turning down that. You know, once I make a decision, I make a decision. I’m not going back and questioning myself. So I don’t worry about that,” Betts said Monday. “The market will be what the market is. We’ll just kind of cross that bridge when we get there. But for right now, like I said, it’s just safety and health things that I’m worried about. And that whole thing is on the back burner.”
While Betts will have to play at an elite level in the shortened season to still get whatever big payday that might await him, he said his mind has not even gotten that far yet as players try to navigate life on the field during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Free agency is, like, on the back burner. That’s not really … that’ll come,” Betts said. “That’s nothing that I’m really thinking about right now. I think the main concern is safety and health. There’s a lot going on, we haven’t gotten tests back, we don’t know who’s sick and who’s not sick. There’s just a lot going on that needs to be addressed and free agency is not one of those things right now. That’ll come whenever it comes.”
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March, it was unclear if the season would be played at all. Considering that uncertainty, it was entirely possible that Betts would never play a game in a Dodgers uniform.
While things appear to be trending toward Betts actually playing for L.A., the superstar still isn’t 100 percent sure it will actually happen.
“Yeah, I mean, I still, now, I still have my doubts, just based on what’s going on,” Betts said. “I’m definitely preparing the same way. Fully expecting to play, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t doubts that kind of go on with the facts that are in front of you. But I’m definitely super excited to play, and looking forward to it, for sure.”
Betts, 27, expressed some serious concerns with MLB’s testing procedures, considering all of the early hiccups in the process.
“I can’t say I’m that confident because I haven’t been shown yet. It’s kind of tough to be confident in something that hasn’t proved to be foolproof. And so, there’s not a whole lot really I can do, it’s kind of out of my control. But it’s in somebody’s control, and whoever’s control it’s in will have to find a way to make it work or this whole operation may not be able to work,” Betts said. “We’ve got camps being shut down, and people going three or four days without tests, and you just don’t know what’s going on. I know it’s hard, I’m not blaming anyone. But it’s hard, and somebody’s gotta do it. And we just have to figure out the right way to do it.”