The Boston Red Sox may never live down the controversial trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. But what if they did all they could to keep their homegrown superstar?
The narrative surrounding Boston's negotiations with Betts is the Red Sox offered him a $300 million contract extension, but the 28-year-old wanted $420 million. Boston then decided the price was too steep and traded Betts rather than risking him leaving in free agency for nothing in 2021. The Dodgers signed Betts to a 12-year, $365 million contract extension five months later.
While many are critical of the Red Sox for choosing financial flexibility over Betts, 98.5 The Sports Hub's Mike Felger heard through the grapevine that isn't how it all went down.
During Wednesday's "Felger & Mazz," Felger recalled an interaction at a cocktail party with an individual who told him the Red Sox actually did offer Betts what he wanted. Betts just didn't want to continue his career in Boston.
"This guy, I am fully confident is close with players and it was a conversation at literally an outdoor, socially-distanced cocktail party," Felger said. "The guy says, 'Boy, he turned down a lot of money here,' speaking of Betts. I'm like, 'Well, what do you mean? Weren't they way under?' He said, 'Oh no, no, they offered what he asked and he turned it down.'
"I'm like, 'Well wait a minute, why wouldn't the Sox let everybody know that? Because right now, everyone's calling them cheapskates. Everyone's saying they cheaped out and wouldn't pay for Mookie Betts. Why wouldn't they let that be known?' And the guy said they thought it would be a worse PR hit if people knew Betts turned them down straight up. That it wasn't a money thing. Because then it speaks to he didn't want to be here.
"So I'm like, 'I never thought of it that way.' For PR purposes, it is better to be cheap or labeled cheap vs. no one wants to play for you. And they were afraid of that thing more than the cheap thing. Take that for what it's worth."
We'll likely never know for sure whether the Red Sox did everything they could to keep Betts in Boston, but Felger's anecdote certainly is interesting. Of course, as Felger notes, his story should be taken with a grain of salt.