BOSTON — The president of baseball operations for the Red Sox is not worried about any hard feelings involving Mookie Betts following the arbitration win for the Red Sox outfielder this week that awarded him $10.5 million over the Sox counter of $7.5 million.
Dave Dombrowski went even further Friday at the Hotel Commonwealth, where he was a guest panelist at the “Business of Baseball Champions Lunch” to promote the “Hot Stove Cool Music” concert Saturday night at the Paradise Club in Boston.
“I think our relationship with him is fine,” Dombrowski said. “I think it would have been either way. I called him and texted and we missed calls and texted back-and-forth. (Assistant general manager) Brian O’Halloran spoke to him. He’s fine. He understands the process. We have a good relationship. He’s a player that we love a great deal and want to keep part of the organization for years to come.
“It’s a situation that you think that when you go in with a case you think … your position is the right one, and you win the case. But I can’t also tell you that we’re surprised or shocked because I still think arbitration is (something) you never know how it’s going to go. I’ve been in arbitration cases for a long time. There’s been times I’ve left arbitration cases thinking for sure that we won the case and we lost, and vice versa. There’s still a lot of chance when you let somebody else decide those numbers for you.”
The Red Sox have Betts under control for two more years after this, as he’s not due to hit free agency until 2021.
As for a free agent the Red Sox have long been reported interested in, Dombrowski said there has been no movement in the J.D. Martinez front, referencing the remarkable lack of free agency signings this offseason in major league baseball. The club reportedly offered five-year contract in neighborhood of $125 million two weeks ago. Scott Boras, Martinez’s agent had been seeking seven years and roughly $210 million for the 30-year old slugger. Boras was initially planning to attend this weekend’s event in Boston but backed out in mid-week.
“I don’t know that I can categorize it because everything is different,” Dombrowski said Friday. “Some guys you talk to very frequently, other poeple you don’t talk to at all. I think you’re always trying to keep the pulse of everything that’s taken place. I have nothing that’s imminent at this very moment. But I can’t tell you that when I walk across the hall that my phone doesn’t ring. Because at some point, this is going to move. I don’t know when that’s going to be.”
In Dombrowski’s point of view, there’s something bigger at work.
“It’s a system that this wintertime is unusual,” he said. “I think that the thing that’s hard for me to know is this something that’s going to happen on a yearly basis or is this just something that’s come together for a variety of reasons. I don’t know that yet. I’m sure that it’ll be looked at by people in much higher positions than me but I don’t think it’s a good situation that we’re sitting here on February 2 and there are a 110 free agents.
“I don’t think it’s good for the game necessarily. Does a change in the system make it happen? I don’t know. We just got a new basic agreement a year ago so both sides agreed to that at the time. I don’t think you can only look at this wintertime, I think you have to look at the future.”