Mookie Betts just signed a 12 year extension worth $365 million to remain a Los Angeles Dodger. Red Sox fans who had been clinging to the hope he’d return to Boston after this bizarro season can lay that dream to rest. At least Betts isn’t a Yankee.
A quick edition of “Would You Rather” might help us gain some context on Betts’ decision.
Q. Would you rather play in a city with Hollywood connections, global sponsorship potential and great weather year-round?
Would you rather play in a city with historical connections and uncomfortable weather 6–8 months of the year?
Q. Would you rather sign a massive deal now, before the likely economic fallout that all professional sports leagues are facing in the upcoming year or two?
Would you rather test the free-agency in six months when our economy has likely sunk into more trouble?
Q. Would you rather sign with a potentially dominant team in LA?
Would you rather take a chance and see what happens with rebuilding franchises in San Francisco, Seattle or Texas?
Q. Would you rather play in a laid-back media market?
Would you rather play in a place where vitriol and controversy still sometimes dominates sports talk and public perception of the area’s star athletes?
Q. Would you rather play in a casual fan environment where few boos are heard?
Would you rather play where the intensity and pressure to win are constantly ramped up to maddening levels (granted the Boston pressure isn’t nearly what it used to be)?
Q. Would you rather play with a new team and teammates that have welcomed you with open arms?
Would you rather re-sign with your original team whose fans generally loved you, but with the organization that low-balled you with a previous extension offer and then traded you when you wouldn’t commit early to a long-term extension?
I hate the fact that the Red Sox organization didn’t plan well enough to do everything possible to clear the way for this type of extension with Betts. By spending more carefully and trading more strategically, they could have avoided having to dump salary to get under the luxury tax last winter. Some of the above factors (weather, media, and economic uncertainty of 2020) were clearly beyond the control of the Red Sox front office. Others were within their control.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know if Betts genuinely wanted to stay in Boston. Now he might be facing the Red Sox in a World Series sometime soon. That is, if the front office can either develop, sign, or trade for (maybe all three) some starting pitching…and the ownership decides to spend big again.
In the NL these days, only the reigning-champion Washington Nationals appear close to the talent-level of the Dodgers. A core of Cody Bellinger, Betts, Max Muncy and Justin Turner make for a fearsome lineup, with shortstop Gavin Lux and catcher Will Smith ready for primetime. Pitchers Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and (in 2021) David Price lead the pitching staff with young prospects Dustin May, Brusdar Graterol (nearly included in the Betts deal with LA), and Josiah Gray waiting for their turns.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox will have until 2032 to meet the Dodgers in the World Series. That’s when Betts’ extension runs out.