With the way the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken baseball this year, plenty of Dodgers fans were bracing for a disaster scenario — Mookie Betts playing a maximum of 60 games in Dodger blue before hitting free agency, David Price opting out of the 2020 season, and Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs going on to become stars in Boston following a February trade that initially looked like a massive steal for the Dodgers, but some had begun to believe was going to be a heist for the Red Sox.
Fortunately for those Dodgers fans, it looks as if they won’t have to worry about one of those things. The Dodgers and Betts are reportedly “deep into negotiations” on a massive extension, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Wednesday, that could keep the former AL MVP in Los Angeles for the next decade. WEEI’s Lou Merloni reported that the deal would be for “10-plus years” and $350-450 million, figures that have since been confirmed by national reporters such as MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
The parameters that @LouMerloni first alluded to -- a deal of 10 years -- would be the sort to prompt Betts to forgo free agency. The devil will be in the details -- the money, the structure of payments, how to proceed if fans cannot return in 2021 and other important issues.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 22, 2020
Sorry @Jared_Carrabis your dream scenario may come to an end within the next couple days, I’m told. Mookie will remain in LA for a very very long time. 10+ yrs for BIG $$. Between 350-400. @WEEI @OMFonWEEI— Lou Merloni (@LouMerloni) July 22, 2020
Mookie Betts and the Dodgers are closing in on an extension for at least 10 years and $350 million, per sources. @LouMerloni was on it first.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 22, 2020
This technically isn’t a radical departure from the Dodgers’ aversion to giving outside free agents massive long-term deals — even though he’s never played a regular season game for them, he is already under contract — but it’s nonetheless an interesting change in approach from a Dodgers front office run by Andrew Friedman that has traditionally emphasized winning every season while keeping costs under control.
Betts’ contract figures to blow the Dodgers’ previous record deal — seven years and $215 million for Clayton Kershaw in 2014 — out of the water, though considering that Kershaw technically opted out of that deal and immediately re-signed a new three-year contract before the 2019 season, he’ll actually end up making more like $238 million.
Betts, a .301/.374/.519 career hitter who makes an impact with his power, speed, and fielding ability, should combine with Cody Bellinger and the rest of the Dodgers’ talented supporting cast to form one of the majors’ most formidable lineups for years to come.