David Ortiz explains why trading ‘perfect franchise’ player Mookie Betts was a mistake

Red Sox

“He is the full package. I mean, you tell me. Why would you not make that move? We know it was a mistake.”

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Mookie Betts’s return to Fenway this week was a reminder of what could have been.

The Red Sox had one of baseball’s brightest stars, and instead of signing him to an extension, they traded him to Los Angeles. Betts has already blasted 35 home runs this year, putting him fifth in the league. And he’s leading a Dodgers squad that had a 12-game runaway lead on first place in the NL West.

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Meanwhile, the Red Sox are in fourth place in the AL East chasing the Blue Jays, Rays, and Orioles.

During an interview on Rob Bradford’s Baseball Isn’t Boring podcast, Red Sox legend David Ortiz opened up about why he felt the Betts trade was a bad one.

“[It was painful] since day one, since they let him go,” Ortiz told Bradford. “I think that the minute he went to the Dodgers my emotions shifted a little bit because that guy, he was the perfect franchise boy for an organization like this one.”

Betts is in the top-10 for batting average (.315), on-base percentage (.407), OPS (1.018), hits (152), home runs (35), doubles (36) RBIs (93), and runs scored (110).

But, it’s more than just his bat that makes him valuable to an organization, said Ortiz.

“Mookie has the personality,” Ortiz said. “I’m not even going to talk about the player because that’s off the charts, and he’s young, very mature. He’s the full package. He is the full package. I mean, you tell me. Why would you not make that move? We know it was a mistake. We know. We know because numbers don’t lie. Numbers don’t lie. But, that happens. This type of mistake happens sometimes and there’s not much you can do about it.”

Ortiz called Betts one of the “best things” to happen to baseball in recent years. He says the two are still close even though Betts is on the West Coast now.

“Mookie is like my baby brother. We always stay in touch. We always communicate. He’s too smart, because he’s always on the search and smart baseball players, that’s what they do because this game every day has something to show you. There’s something to learn every day.”

Ortiz said the Red Sox have an opportunity to learn from their decision to trade Betts.

“Whenever the opportunity comes again, take advantage of it,” Ortiz said. “Thank God we have the opportunity to have Rafael for years to come around here.”