MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Superstar Mookie Betts has become the face of the Red Sox, and there's strong sentiment at the highest levels of the organization for that to be the case for many years to come.Betts can be a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox have
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Superstar Mookie Betts has become the face of the Red Sox, and there's strong sentiment at the highest levels of the organization for that to be the case for many years to come.
Betts can be a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox have made it clear multiple times at Winter Weekend that they hope it never gets to that point.
"He's the exact type of player you want to have on your team," Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said. "Not just from what he does on the field, but off the field. He's such a great person and we'd love to have him be a Red Sox for his entire career."
Betts would love that also, but he knows that there are no guarantees when it comes to the business of baseball.
"Contract things are kind of tough to come up with, especially with both sides and kind of how the economics and all those things work," Betts said. "I love Boston, love my teammates, love the fans and all those types of things, so we'll just continue to see what happens."
What happened this winter is that the sides did what they couldn't last offseason and avoided an arbitration hearing. Betts instead signed a one-year, $20 million contract, which represented a raise of $9.5 million.
"I mean, those things are kind of tough. I'm happy with the result," Betts said. "Now, it's just time to play baseball."
And few can play it at the same level of Betts, who is a force in every way possible on both sides of the ball and just won the American League's Most Valuable Player Award.
For that reason, it's easy to see why the thought of him playing anywhere else is nauseating to the Red Sox.
"You certainly understand, you try to put yourself in the other person's shoes, he's going to want to see what the market looks like and we understand that," Kennedy said. "But we've made it crystal clear that we want him a part of the Red Sox organization long term. We were chatting last night, I don't know why a player would ever want to play anywhere else other than Boston.
"That comes from a very biased person. I'm a Bostonian. But you look around at the fan support, you look at this ownership group. The commitment to winning, the great history and tradition. Talk to a lot of alums who have been here and gone other places. And I just think a lot of them wish they had stayed in Boston and finished their careers here. We're now approaching a 20-year run of an era in Boston sports unlike any other in the history of professional sports. This is where you want to be."
Betts appreciates hearing how much the club would like to keep him beyond 2020.
"Yeah, it means a lot," Betts said. "I've done something well, obviously, and I have the utmost respect for those guys. They're great people. Just to be able to put on the uniform in general is a blessing, and when it says Red Sox on it, it makes it that much better."
It has been a whirlwind offseason for Betts. Just a week after winning the World Series, his first child (a girl) was born.
"It's a lot. You know, I think it's just another responsibility. She's another responsibility you have to take care of. Can't just worry about yourself," Betts said. "So it kind of teaches you perspective . Now I have a new perspective on life and taking care of things. Just have to try and find a way to get some sleep. That's going to be the most important thing right now."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.