Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
After a winter in which they were left on the outside looking in with marquee free agents Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon, among others, the Los Angeles Dodgers made their mark just before the start of Spring Training by trading for Mookie Betts and David Price.
On the one hand, the Dodgers added a former Cy Young Award winner and the 2018 American League MVP to an already-talented roster. However, with Betts reportedly rejecting multiple contract extension offers from the Boston Red Sox last year, his pending free agency loomed over the deal.
“My mindset is we couldn’t be more excited to have Mookie in 2020,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said after the introductory press conference for Betts and Price. “We obviously know his team control is up after 2020.
“We’re hoping that he falls in love with the team, the city, the fans, and wants to be here for a long time. We’re really happy to have both guys and doing everything we can to get camp started on the right foot and see where that takes us.”
Then came the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which thrust the sport and entire world into a prolonged state of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the Dodgers and Betts managed to come to a reported agreement on a contract extension.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Betts has agreed to a 12-year, $365 million deal:
Outfielder Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in agreement on a 12-year, $365 million contract extension, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Combined with the one-year, $27 million deal he’s currently under, the total is 13 years and $392 million.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 22, 2020
The contract puts Betts in a group of players that includes Mike Trout ($426.5 million), Bryce Harper ($330 million), Giancarlo Stanton ($325 million), Cole ($324 million) and Manny Machado ($300 million) as those who signed for at least $300 million in MLB history.
Coincidentally, the Dodgers have been connected to each of those marquee players in some form.
The long-term contract extension removes a potential distraction in a season that is going to be unlike any other. Though, Betts recently asserted he was not concerned with free agency or rejecting offers from the Red Sox last year.
Friedman has long admired Betts
Friedman’s respect for Betts was apparent from the team’s first press conference with their new star. “Watching him come up through the Minor Leagues and breaking into the big leagues, he embodies everything that we really value with a position player,” Friedman said in February.
“The impact he has on defense, the instincts on the bases. In the batter’s box, it’s easy to say: guys who are aggressive in the strike zone and passive out of the strike zone. He embodies all of that.
“He’s elite in every facet of the game. The way he can attack the game on the bases, defensively, in the batter’s box. He’s one of the best players in all of baseball. He’s a complete player in every respect. Adding him to an otherwise talented group of position players, is something that’s going to make us that much deeper and better.”
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