Mookie Betts: ‘I wanted to stay in Boston my whole career'

"I know people don't believe it."

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Contrary to popular belief, Mookie Betts didn't want to leave the Boston Red Sox.

Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 2020 MLB season. The two-time World Series champion signed a 12-year, $365 million contract extension with L.A. a few months after the deal.

The trade remains a polarizing topic among Red Sox fans. While some blame the organization for not wanting to pay its superstar outfielder, others claim Betts no longer wanted to play in Boston anyway.

Betts shut down that notion during a conversation with his former Red Sox teammate Brock Holt on the “Foul Territory” podcast.

"I know people don’t believe it, but I wanted to stay in Boston my whole career,” Betts told Holt. “That was my life. I knew everybody there. It was a short flight to Nashville. It was perfect.”

Holt asked Betts if he would have stayed with Boston if it offered a deal identical to L.A.'s.

"100 percent," Betts answered. "But that didn't happen."

Betts' production hasn't changed since his Boston days. He remains a perennial MVP candidate and arguably a top-five player in the game.

His demeanor, however, has changed noticeably over the last few years. Betts quietly went about his business during his time with the Red Sox. With the Dodgers, he has been more comfortable showcasing his personality in the media and through his own podcast, "On Base With Mookie Betts."

"If I stayed in Boston, I don't know that I would have started and been who I am today," Betts said. "Because Boston is just a different culture, a different life there than it is in L.A., and different opportunities."

As much as he hoped to continue his career in Boston, Betts is satisfied with how everything turned out.

“It is what it is. But when that move happened I was sad,” Betts said. “I was like, ‘Man I don’t wanna go out West.’ ...

"It was actually kind of a blessing in disguise. My family loves it. It’s a different way of life. The weather is beautiful. You never have to worry about the hot sticky stuff or the freezing cold and everything up in Boston. Being in L.A. has been awesome. I’m really happy.”

Betts is in the midst of another MVP-caliber season in L.A. The 30-year-old, who earned his seventh All-Star nod, is hitting .278/.380/.569 with 27 home runs and 67 RBIs.

He'll make his long-awaited return to Fenway Park when the Red Sox host the Dodgers for a three-game series from Aug. 25-27.

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