Seemingly out of nowhere this morning the baseball world was given a shocking revelation that the Los Angelas Dodgers were on the cusp of extending mega star Mookie Betts to a major deal. The headline’s stated that within the next few days a deal would be made, but as we now know the deal was merely hours away from being finalized. Several different figures were thrown around but ultimately the two sides agreed on a 13 YEAR EXTENSION worth 380+ million dollars. To say its mind boggling would be an understatement of how fast the deal was done. Its common knowledge that had Mookie hit free agency next winter he would have racked in 300 million plus, but there is no way in hell 13 years would have been on the table for any GM or owner. Maybe Stevey “fat stacks” Cohen would have thrown him it, but I guess now we’ll never know. A season ago GM’s were conspiring about how his value may exceed 400, but Mookie followed up his insane 10 WAR season with a bit of a “down year” in what was an extremely disappointing season for the previous World Series champs. Unfortunately this may have hurt his long term value, and now hell have settle for only 380 million.
Mookie is a phenomenal player this is not a debate, but as more media sites report the deal there seems to be a large audience that are under the impression that this was a panic move, and an overpay. Now to say its an overpay is a little farfetched, considering the ridiculous amount of money that has been shelled out the past couple of seasons to other major free agents. While its still extremely early in his deal it appears Manny Machado might not have been worth the 300 million dollars he was given, but hey he secured the bag and was made the face of the Padres franchise. I don’t even think its a question that Mookie is the superior player, clearly showing that by having four top 8 appearances in the MVP voting in the past 4 seasons, opposed to Machado’s total of zero. That being said to say Mookie at 380 million is an overpay is simply unjustifiable. You have to take into account that this is the Dodgers we’re talking about. Currently valued as the second largest sports market in the league, consistently bringing in the most revenue each season with the last few years making over 500 million. They have plenty of money to spend, and with the extremely talented roster they have now expect them to write a few more of these checks in the years to come.
The problem with the deal is that the years on this extension are alarmingly high especially when you look at the type of player that Mookie is. While he is considered a 5 tool player, racking up a stellar WAR of 41.8 in 5 full seasons his play-style heavily depends on his speed. Now obviously taking away athletics from the equation the guy can flat out hit the ball for contact and power, his numbers prove this. What elevates him above most of his contemporaries however is his play in the outfield. The guy has a cannon for an arm, and his reaction time is quite a marvel too see. It seems as if every game he makes one highlight play, whether its tracking down a ball that has a catch rate of less than 5%, or a gun to double someone up at home. This high level of defensive play though is likely to deteriorate once he hits his mid 30s, assuming he follows the trend of most outfielders who rely on their speed. Now since he’s only 27 by the time the contract ends he’ll be a little over 40(crazy to think about), which means the Dodgers’ will likely get some mediocre years from him out there. Maybe by then they just shift him to DH anyways and your problems solved. Another small knock to Mookie would be that he needs to be protected in the lineup. For some reason this is very overlooked, but when you gander at the years in which Mookie had a guy like Ortiz or Jumbo Dong behind him his numbers are juiced up. This is a common trend though for hitters to perform better when they have a big power threat or just another good hitter in the lineup behind them. If you look at the year after Oritz retired Mookie was made thee guy in the Sox lineup, and as the main option his batting average dropped over 50 points with him totaling over 50 less hits as well. The great thing for the Dodgers is that they have the luxury of putting an MVP behind him for at least the next three years, and if I’m a betting man ill say they’re eventually going to extend Cody to a contract very similar to this one. Its going to be a very scary lineup for the next decade if they are able to accomplish that.
The motive behind the rushed deal is so obvious. With Price opting out of the season LA’s huge trade was looking like it could just be a rental. With a lot of buzz surrounding Mookie’s liked instagram pictures, and reports that he still is maintaining a good relationship with the Sox front office; there was a strong chance Boston was going to try and get their boy back. The Dodgers would have been looked at as an embarrassment had they given up a surplus of promising young studs for a one year rental and a washed Price just to lose him back to that team. No front office wants that stigma attached to them, especially a huge market like LA.. Have to give them props for bearing down and opening up the check book early before he can even see the light of free agency next winter. Great move that simply needed to be done; should be a joy to see how the tandem of MVP’s play in their first season together.
Expect a lot more of these.
Published by Fran Cava