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Jim Rice: Mookie Betts 'Wanted To Stay' With Red Sox, But Has To Accept 'Business Deal'

BOSTON (CBS) -- Mookie Betts has made it very clear in recent years that he wanted to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Somewhere along the way, that got interpreted as Mookie Betts wanting to leave Boston.

According to Hall of Famer Jim Rice, that's not true.

Rice, speaking on MLB Network Radio on SiriuxXM, said that Betts has always wanted to stay with the Red Sox, and that his desire to stay with Boston lasted through the Tuesday night trade.

"I talked to Mookie last night ... and I asked him about it," Rice said. "He came out and said [earlier], 'Look, this is my home. I don't want to go any place else.' He said, 'I don't care what people have said or what they're talking about. This is my home, and I want to stay here.' And then I talked to him last night, and he said, 'Look, I'm gonna tell you, and I've told you before, I wanted to stay.'

"But he said it was a business deal," Rice continued. "And he said, 'I can't do anything about it. It was a business deal. And they chose to go that way, and I have to accept it.' And that's what he said."

Betts will make $27 million this season before becoming a free agent, unless his new team -- the Dodgers -- can pony up the dollars required to entice him to forego free agency.

The Red Sox technically could enter the free-agent bidding for Betts next winter, after they remain under the luxury tax threshold in 2020, but such a reunion would seem unlikely -- even if Boston is Mookie's home.

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