It was Jackie Bradley Jr. talking, but the words might have well come out of Mookie Betts' mouth.
"Back in the day, it seemed like everyone was excited to test free agency," Bradley Jr. said while appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast last July "Obviously with the way things have been going lately some people might not be as excited. I feel like if you have trust in yourself, trust in your ability you should be and I’m still excited about the opportunity to go to free agency."
Some players like security. Others revel in betting on themselves. Betts clearly is the latter.
That can be good for both the Red Sox (short-term) and the player (long-term).
Betts was offered a deal prior to the 2019 season that would have put him among baseball's financial elite. He didn't take it. It appears that the player the Sox outfielder hopes to approach -- both in terms of on-field production and off-field monetary security -- continues to be Mike Trout, he of the 12-year, $426.5 million commitment. And if Betts duplicates his 2018 season, the way baseball paydays are evolving that gamble might actually bear the kind of fruit he has been looking for. (For what it's worth, Betts was one of five MLB players to manage an OPS of better than 1.000 over the final three months of last season.)
The contract for a position player like Anthony Rendon (7 years, $245 million) or even Gerrit Cole's nine-year, $324 million deal doesn't necessarily impact what Betts' asking price, but it does reaffirm it. While some might have panicked last March because of another offseason of frugal owners, Betts didn't flinch. And he's certainly not about to now.
"It’s how I was raised to look at the thing," Betts told WEEI.com in the final week of the 2019 season. "As a whole, when it comes to business in general, whether it’s buying a building or contract negotiations or whatever it is, you have to take emotions out of it. That’s what people forget. Fans and media get caught up in emotions and that’s just not how I was raised and that’s just not what my point of view with my agents is. We take emotions out of it and we focus on the business part. Of course, I love it here. This is all I know. But you also have to take that emotional side out of it and get to what is actually real.
"Even when I was younger. My Mom and Dad always told me to not act on emotion, act on what is real. When you’re mad don’t do something wrong because you’re mad. If you’re going to do something bad that’s because that is what the situation called for. It’s anything, not just this situation. You take emotions out of it and focus on what is real."
And what is real is Betts most likely putting all of his eggs in the 2020 basket. At this point, why wouldn't you?
Going back a few years, while the Red Sox were signing contract extensions all over the place (Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester), Jonathan Papelbon made it very clear he was getting to free agency. It worked out. He got what was the largest contract for a reliever at the time. Like Bradley Jr. and Betts, he embraced the idea of free agency.
This offseason's spending spree certainly won't deter that line of thinking.