Mookie Betts has agreed to remain with the Dodgers through the 2032 season after inking a 12-year, $365 million mega-deal as an extension. This comes after he was acquired from the Red Sox during the off-season, and it could not be a better way to start this crazy season.
Rumors broke on Wednesday that made it sound like all but a done deal, and Dustin did a great job of covering it, but now we know the exact terms. The average annual value of the extension is a bit north of $30 million, and he’ll be under contract with the Dodgers for the next 13 seasons.
As for him as a player, Mookie essentially is the exact kind of talent you want to invest in. For his career, he has a .893 OPS with a 134 wRC+ and showed incredible MVP-level upside in 2018 with a .346/.438/.640/1.079 line and a 185 wRC+. Going forward, he projects almost identical to his 2019, where he delivered a .915 OPS. Just as important is his 13% walk rate and 14% strikeout rate for 2018-19 (Career: 10% & 13%), showing a control of the strike zone and likely making him more consistent. He’s good at hitting the baseball, basically.
But wait, there’s more. While Betts doesn’t steal as much anymore, he still uses his speed on the bases effectively (4-7 runs), and plays elite defense in the outfield by any metric, whether it’s UZR, DRS, OAA, or the eye test, everything grades out plus-plus. Mookie also has earned praise for doing the little things in the game and getting credit for intangibles, so there’s no real stone left unturned here. He’s an elite all-around star in his prime, and one of the best players in the game, so it’s hard to not be excited about this.
But what about the contract, right? Right. Well, he’s not going to be star when he’s at the tail-end of it, obviously. But they are paying for production in his prime, and if they get about five seasons like Betts had last year (~6 WAR), that would essentially make his contract value-neutral already. It’s hard to see him not getting there barring catastrophic injury.
Still, spending that much money does come with risk, and Mookie probably did well to secure $365 million with the pandemic cutting into team revenues as well as the likely upcoming labor strife. But it also doesn’t seem to really impact the Dodgers in the big picture either, or at least as much as some fans are concerned about.
Aside from Mookie, the Dodgers have no contract obligations in 2024, they have $6.5 million on the tab in 2023, and only $42 million as soon as 2022. They also have locked up present talent, young stars that will still be in arbitration, and possess one of the best farm systems in baseball. So I don’t think there’s a whole lot to be concerned about regarding how this deal impacts a potential Cody Bellinger extension, for example. If the Dodgers want to shell out more money for a star in a few years, they absolutely have the payroll flexibility to do that.
Quite frankly, this trade and extension is exactly what people like me have been pushing for from the Dodgers, specifically because they could make a move like this to improve the team with an elite talent and still be in great financial shape going forward. Needless to say, I’m absolutely thrilled that they did it, as this should make the Dodgers even more of a perennial World Series favorite than they already were. Get excited, folks.
Also, hey, a shirt that we were worried about would be completely irrelevant is now very relevant.