The Dodgers 2020 offseason began with rumors involving the top of the free-agent market. Now, all but one of the Dodgers’ All-Star targets rejected LA.
With four-time All-Star Dellin Betances joining the New York Mets on a one-year deal with a player option for 2021, the Dodgers once again failed to land an All-Star that they ‘reportedly’ were very interested in. Just two weeks ago, Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that the Dodgers were the “most aggressive” team in on Betances.
His contract with the Mets includes only $10.5 million in guaranteed money. The 31-year-old will make $7.5 million in 2020 (thanks to a $2.2 million salary and $5.3 million signing bonus) with a 2021 player option for $9 million that he can be bought out of for $3 million (hence the rest of his guaranteed money). In total, Betances will make less than Dodgers free-agent acquisition Blake Treinen, another former All-Star closer that hit the market this offseason, who will make $10 million guaranteed in his one season with LA.
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If the front office and Andrew Friedman really were that aggressive, how could they have missed out on Betances? They likely offered more money, or at least they had the ability to, and they also have a near-certain chance at playing meaningful playoff baseball come October. So why the Mets?
Really, the only explanation being floated around in reports is that Betances really wanted to stay in New York, the city where he grew up and played the first stretch of his MLB career with the Yankees.
"“I love New York… I grew up in Manhattan. Went to high school in Brooklyn. Played minor league ball in Staten Island. Made it to the big leagues in the Bronx. Now, I’m excited to go win a World Series with the Mets in Queens."
If continuing to play in New York really was the deciding factor, then the Dodgers could have made Betances a competitive offer and still failed to reel him in. The same sort of problems surfaced with Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon.
Cole, a SoCal native, loved the allure of NY and specifically of playing with the New York Yankees; Rendon chose the Angels over the Dodgers because he didn’t like the ‘Hollywood lifestyle‘ that playing in LA may have forced he and his family into.
If the City of Stars is becoming a less desirable free agent destination than Anaheim and Queens, the front office may have to begin to work harder in their pitches to big free agents. If other LA sports franchises, like the LA Galaxy and the LA Lakers, can bring in premier free agents like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lebron James, why haven’t the Dodgers been able to do the same this offseason?
In the future, besides making stronger pitches, the Dodgers may want to consider dealing for players that want to play in LA, especially rentals, and extending them once the deal gets done. If Francisco Lindor or Mookie Betts fit into this category, then so be it, but the front office needs to get the job done when it comes to bringing star power back to LA, where it belongs.