FORT MYERS -- It was four years ago when Travis Shaw and Mookie Betts were roomies in spring training, highlighting their adventures as young Red Sox players with a golf outing that resulted in Betts' golf cart ending up in a pond.
"That," said Shaw Saturday at JetBlue Park, "was a while ago."
Different times. And decidedly different career paths for both.
As Shaw talked he wore a Blue Jays uniform, getting ready to play first base for the club he will try and resurrect his career with. The 29-year-old will be manning first and third base for Toronto after inking a one-year, $4 million deal in the offseason.
But the return to his old stomping grounds to play his old team brought back those golf cart-type of memories, while also bringing up the name of his good buddy.
"It’s hard to think someone like Mookie Betts could get traded," said Shaw, who still stays in touch with Betts. "They got something they liked back for him. Mookie is a generational talent. Everybody knows that. I was shocked when I saw it."
He added, "You figured it was coming, I just didn’t think it would come this soon. I thought maybe the trade deadline or something."
Did Shaw think that when he made this trip three hours down I-75 this spring training he would be facing off against Betts?
"Yup," he said with a smile.
What wasn't surprising was the approach taken by Betts, who was consistent in his approach to contract offers. It was a narrative Shaws started hearing years ago.
"I learned it a couple times ago," said Shaw of his conversations with Betts. You don’t want to think it but the more you play you realize it really is a business. ... It is a business. It’s a game. But at the same time, the guys up top, it’s a business to them and the numbers have to line up."
As for Shaw's current existence -- which most recently included hitting a solo home run against the Red Sox Saturday -- he is in the process of rediscovering the stroke which resulted in a combined 63 home runs over two seasons with Milwaukee from 2017-18. The lefty hitter had worked with the same private hitting instructor used by Jackie Bradley Jr. heading into the 2019 season, but the alterations weren't clicking forcing an early-season adjustment Shaw never recovered from.
Those 2019 struggles ultimately led to Milwaukee non-tendering Shaw, allowing for his first go-round in free agency.
And while the Red Sox did show interest, no formal offer was made. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, happily met Shaw's price.
"They made the offer we were hoping to get, somewhere around the neighborhood," said Shaw of Toronto. "There was a good opportunity there. It was on the table. The Red Sox never officially offered. The Blue Jays made a strong offer. It was something I couldn’t pass up at the time.