Ground yourself. Breathe. Sit down and close your eyes. No matter what happens to Mookie Betts for the remainder of 2021, barring something absolutely catastrophic, the Dodgers still made the unblemished and correct decision to lock him down on a 13-year contract last offseason.
When one of the best players in baseball with a fluid track record of pure gold lands in your lap, and you’re one of the MLB organizations that prints money like Los Angeles (or the Red Sox!), you don’t let that 28-year-old go.
A 2021 full of nagging injuries for Betts has been no fun, and the Hot Take Train’s momentum has surely been fueled up again on Tuesday with the news that the right fielder/second baseman’s latest hip impingement is likely enough to send him to the IL.
But allow us to stop that train in its tracks. Again.
Sure, Betts’ $365 million contract through 2032 reset the market. It’s difficult to comprehend the dollar figure in real time.
Rest assured it’s still a massive underpay based on what Betts provides, and even if you haven’t enjoyed this particular season, realize that a not-all-there Betts has still been a 44% better-than-league-average offensive player and a sterling defender, worth 3.8 WAR in just 87 games. He’s still approaching his peak.
Dodgers fans can’t worry about Mookie Betts’ (hip injury) contract.
All that being said…we understand the frustration, Dodgers fans. It’s felt like Betts has been on the verge of a breakout 15 different times this season, including his stunning stint at second base (again, this is the kind of baseball player you extend eternally and don’t worry about).
Every time he’s rounded that corner, though, he’s done it a little too harshly and tweaked something. More often than not, it’s been the troublesome hip.
It’s fait to be worried about the trouble spot, and perhaps it develops into something that must be cleaned up in the offseason. But long-term? There’s no reason you should let this nag at you.
The frustration should come from the sterling recent numbers we’re losing, not 2032-based worries.
Betts’ size and talent level are nearly unmatched in the history of the game. We understand. But if you’re going to make a long-term bet, wouldn’t you do so on someone who’s good at everything. Betts isn’t a power hitter, or a spectacular right fielder, or a speed demon; he’s all three and more. Even if one of his talents begin to dissipate in…what, four years? The Dodgers can tolerate that. If a 38-year-old Betts doesn’t feel quite right? The Dodgers have the financial flexibility to eat every corner of his contract.
It’s felt like, for years, Betts has been doubted, only to transcend the doubts and reach another level entirely. We’ve heard the snipes, and the negative talk about his “size” has always stung, especially the comparisons to the “worst-case scenario” former young MVP Andrew McCutchen, who did backslide as he aged.
But that “worst-case scenario” player has…found it again, posting a 123 OPS+ (higher than Giancarlo Stanton) at age 34. Not so bad after all.
Betts remains a better bet, though, and has six years before that age to prove it. Don’t get it twisted like his troublesome hip.