All Betts Are On

According to multiple sources, the Dodgers appear to be on the verge of signing Mookie Betts to a significant contract extension that would keep the star in Los Angeles for at least the next decade. The exact details are still up in the air — Ben Clemens will be back in this space for all that analysis when the deal is closer to final — but it’s going to be a big one:

Whatever the exact contours of the final contract, it’s almost certainly going to be the largest commitment of resources in Dodgers history so far — don’t forget, the team had to give up Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong just to get the opportunity to make such a gigantic offer. The Dodgers have always exhibited a bit of conservatism when trading their top prospects and often for good cause; players like Walker Buehler and Corey Seager have turned out to be far more valuable to the team than anyone they would have fetched in a trade. But after a few missed World Series championship opportunities, they proved willing to be more aggressive this winter, giving up guys they really liked in order to get Betts for a single year and first dibs on signing him to a mega-contract.

Unsurprisingly, ZiPS is a fan of the signing. Ben will have all the numbers, but ZiPS suggests that a 13-year deal, including replacing Mookie’s deal for 2020, has a midpoint of about $367 million, meaning the numbers being reported so far aren’t preposterous. Betts isn’t Mike Trout, but ZiPS isn’t projecting him to be. If Betts actually were on the same level as Trout, 13 years and $380 million would be tantamount to highway robbery!

Mookie’s role with the team is quite clear: hitting leadoff and playing right field. He could still theoretically end up in center at some point, but the Dodgers have kept Cody Bellinger there throughout their exhibition games and if they were keen to mix things up in the near-future, they likely would have done so by the eve of Opening Day.

Given the uncertainty around baseball, I actually expected the market for Betts to be a little off this winter, perhaps to the point that it might have made sense for him to take a one-year, $40 million deal if one were offered and try again the following offseason in a (hopefully) more normal climate. It appears I was wrong, and I’m glad to have been. Betts’ meteoric rise from a fifth-round draft pick to an OK prospect who faced concerns about sticking at second to the 2018 AL MVP was a lot of fun to watch. Mookie Betts is one of the best things about baseball. I love that he’s going to get paid like it.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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tz
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As a die-hard Red Sox fan, I’m thrilled for Mookie. It’s a shame he isn’t a Red Sox for life, but that’s not on him so much as it is on the powers that be in Boston.

Shalesh
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Shalesh

Betts turned down a 10/$300M extension a year and a half ago from the Red Sox, so I’m not sure how that’s “on” the Red Sox. They traded him because I think they suspected Sale was going to be diminished and thus their playoff chances would be rather low with the Yankees and Rays better than them. And of course their payroll taken to farm system decimated to Dombrowski-proportions. And getting Verdugo & Downs for him was pretty good.

13/$380M seems like a bargain for the Dodgers. I think he’s a 6-win/year type-player compared to 4-win types like Harper and Machado so his contract premium over those two is a pittance. I really expected him to push 10/$400M before coronavirus knocked MLB revenues down 70% this year and perhaps more next year.

averagejoe15
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averagejoe15

I think whether or not the contract is a bargain will come down to whether his defense and baserunning continue to decline. He was so good in both those areas in 2016 and 2017 that his downward trend in 2018-2019 has been at least somewhat overlooked because they are still in elite territory, just not as elite.

Heck maybe he can even rebound those numbers a bit with some additional focus on those areas.

That said I do agree that relative to Machado and especially Harper this is a bargain.

Piotr
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Piotr

Read the openings of your two paragraphs. If 13/380 is a bargain for the Dodgers, how exactly was 10/300 a serious offer?

The Red Sox only ever offered below market value, while leaking negotiation details in a transparent effort to get fans to label him greedy. (You don’t have to follow Henry’s group for long to see the pattern.) “He will go to free agency at all costs. Trading him now is the only way to get SOMETHING”–Amazingly, they got people to buy this. Clearly though, wasn’t the case. He was willing to accept a fair offer from a team that acted like it wanted him there. Strange!

FunFella13
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FunFella13

They could have given Sale’s money to Mookie too

Francoeurstein
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Francoeurstein

10 years/$300 million… That’s Manny Machado/Bryce Harper money. Betts is better than Machado and Harper, but not as good as Trout (obviously). So he’s being paid appropriately.