This came much to the chagrin of all Bostonians, who thought they may never even see him play a game outside their fair city when the pandemic changed everyone’s trajectory.
Betts made sure to justify Los Angeles’ trade decision before the campaign even began, then further proved himself essential by helping lead the Dodgers to their first World Series win in 32 years last fall.
After soaking in an offseason of accolades, Betts earned GQ’s MLB season kickoff story this week, and he went in-depth on what motivated him to seek top dollar in free agency, ultimately leading the Red Sox to end his American League career for him.
Betts’ excellent GQ interview, among other things, cleaned up some of the loose ends about his departure from Boston.
No, as some Sox fans accused, he didn’t “have his mind made up” to leave their city. Yes, he always intended to hit free agency to help reset his position’s market, but he had every intention of putting roots down in Beantown.
The team had other ideas, as did the Dodgers’ braintrust.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts always knew he’d hit free agency.
"Betts thought he’d be with the Sox for life, and says he loved his time there—he and Bri had begun looking at new houses before the trade. But he isn’t sentimental about the bonds between player and team. The Red Sox “didn’t owe me anything; I didn’t owe them anything. The city didn’t owe me anything; I didn’t owe the city anything. We did what we were supposed to do. And at that point,” he says, “it’s a business.”"
Looking at the relationship between player and team as “who owes who what” can be extremely reductive, but Betts’ interview should also reveal once and for all that he did not hold some grand grudge against the city of Boston and the Red Sox organization.
He did not declare internally upon making his MLB debut that he would never re-up with the organization as long as he lived.
He intended, instead, to make it to free agency to make absolutely certain he would never be short-changed. The Red Sox did not want to take the risk they’d be out-bid for Betts’ services.
Based on what the Dodgers offered and agreed to, they probably would’ve been.
Instead of staying in Fenway’s friendly confines, Betts seems likely to enter the Hall of Fame in a Dodgers cap, and will do so at least one ring richer than when he departed his first home.
Don’t blame him, though. He’s just trying to pull everyone up.