Dodgers with incentive to skip 2020 season: 1) Mookie Betts
Perhaps nobody has more to lose, financially, from the fallout of the pandemic than Mookie Betts. The superstar outfielder, who was traded in the offseason by the Boston Red Sox when it was believed he would fetch as much as $400 million in the open market next winter, could see his contract value depreciate by as much as $150 million due to depressed revenues.
Betts was awarded a record-breaking $27 million in arbitration for the 2020 season, his last before becoming a free agent. Using a pro-rated salary for a 50-game schedule, the former American League MVP would see his current season pay drop to $8.3 million.
In a recent interview with 105.4 KNBR in San Francisco, ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney said there’s an “excellent chance” players are going to choose not to participate if presented with a significantly shortened season, bringing up Mookie Betts name as an example:
"“If I were sitting in Mookie Betts’ shoes or George Springer’s shoes, the two biggest free agents in the fall, you’re going to have a 50-game season or a 45-game season, do you want to risk your free agency? And you’ve already taken a big financial hit anyway. Do you want to risk that to play?”"
While Dodger fans would hope his competitive fire and commitment to the game would urge Betts to play, Olney raises a good point. After already seeing his free agent value potentially depreciate due to the pandemic, would Betts want to put himself at even more risk by returning to play for only 50 games?
Would he be better to sit out the season, remain healthy, and hope he can cash in on the open market? I hope not. But we will see.