The uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season has created a new paradigm for the Dodgers to consider their options with Mookie Betts.
After spending the last several weeks analyzing every possible facet of the Mookie Betts trade, it’s hard to believe we are back at it again, but a once in a generation crisis has pushed the 2020 season to the brink of cancelation, changing the parameters for how we should consider the centerfielder’s next several months in Los Angeles.
The complicated trade that finally brought the former MVP to LA also included the expensive contract of David Price, cash to offset some of that contract, prospect Brusdar Graterol, outfielder Luke Raley, and the #67th pick from Minnesota. Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong went back to Boston. The Twins received Kenta Maeda, Jair Camargo, and cash for helping to facilitate the deal.
That’s a mouthful, but for all intents and purposes, the trade came down to Mookie Betts and his looming free agency status before the 2021 season. The Red Sox weren’t confident they could pay him enough to keep him in Boston, while considering the luxury tax, and the Dodgers were looking for a game-changing piece to bring them an elusive modern-day championship, along with the prospect of being able to re-sign the star outfielder long-term, being in a better position than the Red Sox in terms of their luxury tax status.
The parameters of the original trade were made entirely based on the idea that one team was willing to forfeit near-term production in 2020 in favor of future assets in the form of young players and prospects, while the other team was willing to forfeit those future assets in hopes of an immediate-term gain that could turn into a long-term investment.
With the 2020 season at peril due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the parameters have now changed. Major League Baseball and the Players Association recently agreed on a framework that would turn Betts into a free agent after this season, whether they play games or not. You read that correctly: if the season is canceled, Mookie Betts would enter free agency without playing a single game as a Dodger.
Does this change how the Dodgers should approach their plans, both in the near and long-term for Mookie Betts? Let’s consider the options.