The Los Angeles Dodgers just showed Mookie Betts the money. A lot of it. On the eve of playing the San Francisco Giants to open the 2020 Major League Baseball season, the Dodgers hit a home run of their own when they announced they had signed the perennial All-Star to a reported 12-year, $365 million contract extension. That’s a lot of dough for a guy that they just picked up in a trade back in February.
“Today is, obviously, a very exciting day for the Dodgers organization as well as for all of our incredible fans, ” Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said. “I think that when you’re making an investment of this kind of magnitude, you’re not just betting on the player’s ability, you’re also betting on the person. With that, we couldn’t be more comfortable to make that bet on Mookie Betts.”
For Friedman and the Dodgers, the contract extension they signed the four-time All-Star to was worth the risk considering what Betts has already accomplished in the big leagues. In six seasons playing for the Boston Red Sox, Betts secured his place as one of the best players in Major League Baseball, winning four Gold Gloves Awards and earning the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player Award.
“Obviously, he’s an extraordinary talent,” Friedman said. “Mookie can impact the game in every facet, but I think what really stood out to us in our couple of months of being around him is just the work ethic; the burning desire to get better on a daily basis. I think I told him he was setting that standard for our younger players in our clubhouse now, and also the ones that’ll come up in the future..so we couldn’t be more excited.”
Betts, just 27, is on the serious financial come up from his first year at the big league level. In this first season with the Red Sox, Betts earned a hefty $514,500 salary. In 2020, Betts will earn $27 million. After not being able to come to terms with his former team, Betts, along with pitcher David Price were traded to the Dodgers. Betts’ new contract officially keeps him off the open mark until after the 2032 season.
“It’s obviously a special day,” Betts said. “It’s kind of what I’ve been working for my whole life. My family has been a part of this. My parents have been part of this. Everybody has been a part of this whole day. This is the day we’ve been dreaming about. For this to come true it’s definitely a blessing. I’m super happy to be part of this organization for the rest of my career, and it’s just amazing, amazing opportunity.”
The opportunity is also a good one for the Dodgers. For the last four years, the Dodgers have been the team expected to win the World Series. In the last four seasons, the Dodgers have come up short. In 2016, the Dodgers went down in flames to the Chicago Cubs, dropping the National League Championship Series, 4-2. In 2017 and 2018, the Dodgers got over the hump and actually played in the World Series both years.
However, the Houston Astros (2017) and Red Sox (2018) would eventually claim the title as the best team in baseball. Last season, the Dodgers fell to the Washington Nationals, 3-2, in the National League Championship Series. With a shortened season, and now with a superstar player in Betts on the roster, perhaps the Dodgers can finally shake down those World Series demons. With Betts, they have a chance to do just that.
“When we made that trade, we did it with more than 2020 in mind,” Friedman said. “SWe appreciated the risk that came with that, but we did it with our eyes wide open, and a commitment from all of us that we were going to do everything thing that we could to keep Mookie here for the rest of his career. We traded a lot of talent away…in the trade to get Mookie and David (Price), but obviously, we got a lot of talent back. And now, we’re going to continue that runway, and try to keep the band together for a while.”
If there is anyone questioning the talents of Betts, odds are that they’ve seen the Tennessee native play. Aside from his collection of Gold Gloves and All-Star nods, Betts has also won three Silver Slugger Awards and became just the second player in MLB history to win the World Series, MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in the same year. Mike Schmidt, the Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Famer slugger, is the only other player to accomplish that feat (1980).
As far as setting an example for his teammates, Betts said his objective is to help the Dodgers win some championships.
“I am who I am,” Betts said. “I don’t want to be more than who I am. If it’s setting an example, then it’s setting an example. If it’s following in line, then it’s following in line. I’m overly concerned about having to step in and be a leader now. I’m here to win some rings.”
In making his decision to sign long-term with the Dodgers after turning down a lucrative offer from the Red Sox, Betts said he considered the market value of his services.
“The market wasn’t what I was worried about, just fair value,” Betts said. “That’s been my No. 1 thing my whole career…just the value. That’s it. Once we got to the point and being somewhere that I loved being, it’s just a match that’s perfect.”