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Boston's Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts not yet seeking long-term contracts

BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts won't be eligible for free agency for three more years. But earlier this month, for the first time in his career, the Boston Red Sox shortstop went through salary arbitration, a process he wouldn't mind making an annual event.

Speaking before the 78th Boston Baseball Writers' Dinner, Bogaerts and fellow Red Sox star Mookie Betts told ESPN.com in separate interviews that they aren't ready to consider signing long-term contract extensions that would buy out at least the remainder of their arbitration years and possibly a few years of free agency.

"Not yet," Bogaerts said. "I know I still have three more years (of arbitration), hopefully three exciting years that I'm looking forward to, especially with the roster that we have. I always say if you keep playing good, the team recognizes that and maybe you can get something done. As of now, it's just me going out there and performing and see what happens."

There are reasons for Bogaerts to be happy with his first arbitration experience. The system allows players who made close to major-league minimum salary during their first three full big-league seasons to receive enormous raises, especially if they put up big numbers. Bogaerts made the All-Star team last season and is tied with Betts for the second-most hits (388) of any player in the majors over the past two seasons.

Last week, Bogaerts cashed in. He met the deadline to exchange salary figures with the Red Sox by agreeing with the team on a one-year contract worth $4.5 million, nearly a 600 percent raise from his $650,000 salary in 2016.

Betts, runner-up to Mike Trout for the AL MVP award last year, likely can count on an even larger bump next winter when he's eligible for arbitration for the first time.

There's incentive for teams to strike long-term deals to gain a measure of cost certainty with a particular player, although the Red Sox weren't in position this winter to engage Bogaerts and Betts in extension talks because of the team's desire to keep the payroll below the $195 million luxury tax threshold. And many players, including Trout in 2014, value the security of a multi-year deal rather than going through the arbitration process for three consecutive years.

Not Bogaerts and Betts. At least not yet.

"I know about all of it. I'm fully aware of everything that kind of goes on, and I just know I have my mind set on one thing and that's going one year at a time," Betts said. "I don't need anything extra in my head and in my mind. The game's already hard enough to play."

Bogaerts, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, described the arbitration process as "interesting." He said he was kept abreast of the Red Sox's offers as the sides negotiated before the deadline.

"They say their number, you say your number, it's just back and forth," Bogaerts said. "It's a bit of a unique experience. But it's still fun becuase, I mean, you've got some nice numbers thrown out at you. Both sides were happy, and that's all that matters in the end."

Bogaerts also dispelled the notion that Boras tries to steer his clients away from long-term deals before they reach the free-agent market. Four years ago, Boras negotiated an eight-year, $120 million extension for Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was at least two years from free agency.

"If the right deal presents, obviously you're going to get something done," Bogaerts said. "It's not like he's never signed someone to an extension. He's done that before. He's obviously had guys that wait also. It all depends if it's the right number, the right timing, stuff like that."

Might the timing be right a year from now?

Bogaerts doesn't sound like it.

"I'm looking forward to doing [arbitration] again next year," he said with a smile.