Mookie Betts, Dodgers Agree to 12-Year Contract Extension Worth Reported $365M

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2020

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers and four-time All-Star Mookie Betts have agreed to a 12-year extension, the team confirmed Wednesday. The deal is worth $365 million, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Betts' deal includes $115 million in deferrals and does not feature either a no-trade clause or opt-outs:

Betts, of course, could eventually have the right to veto deals by invoking 10-and-5 rights should he spend at least five seasons with the Dodgers.

Passan reported earlier Wednesday the two sides were working on a potential 10-year contract:

Betts was set to be a free agent in 2021. He and his previous team, the Boston Red Sox, agreed to a one-year, $27 million deal to avoid arbitration in January, which set an MLB record for an arbitration-eligible player.

One month later, Boston shipped Betts and pitcher David Price to the Dodgers for outfielder Alex Verdugo, shortstop Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong. Red Sox ownership made it clear last fall it wanted to trim payroll, and dealing Betts and Price was one of the easiest ways to achieve that task.

Many praised Los Angeles for the move.

Verdugo played well in 2019, finishing with 12 home runs, 44 RBI and a .294/.342/.475 slash line in 106 games, but he didn't flourish in his first extended playing time like former teammate Cody Bellinger did. Downs is MLB.com's No. 44 overall prospect for 2020. Wong not only didn't crack the top 100 but is also just the 16th-best player in the Red Sox organization.

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The Dodgers landed Betts for a moderate price but faced the risk of giving up cost-controlled young players for only one season of the 27-year-old's services.

The franchise only got to enjoy 66 games of Manny Machado in 2018 before he signed with the San Diego Padres the following offseason.

The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of unpredictability to the situation. MLB was forced to shorten the 2020 season to 60 games and stage games in empty stadiums, which will mean less revenue for all 30 teams.

Free-agent spending was already trending downward in recent years, so it seemed less likely Betts could command a contract that exceeded or at least approached Mike Trout's 12-year, $426.5 million extension.

Based on his performance to date, the 2018 American League MVP should warrant his pay raise in the years ahead.

Through his first six seasons, he boasts a .374 on-base percentage and .519 slugging percentage. Since 2014, his 37.2 WAR ranks second behind Trout among position players, per FanGraphs. He's a three-time Silver Slugger and four-time Gold Glove winner.

Aside from Trout, no other player has been as consistent in the field and at the plate.

The pandemic doesn't appear to have impacted Betts' bargaining power too much. The Dodgers made the kind of investment the Red Sox were unwilling to make, and now he could potentially play out his career in Los Angeles.

Fans will get to enjoy the best outfield in baseball as Bellinger prowls center and Betts plays in right field. Together, they'll also be the backbone of one of MLB's most potent lineups.