Wednesday morning, rumors broke that Mookie Betts was finalizing talks on a huge extension that would keep him in LA for 12 more years after 2020. A couple hours later, the rumors were confirmed as the details of the deal were leaked. The deal is not official yet, but could be finalized before Opening Day tomorrow.
Betts, the second best player in baseball, was traded to the Dodgers in the offseason along with 50% of David Price’s contract in an effort for the Red Sox to get under the luxury tax threshold. In return, the Red Sox received Alex Verdugo and prospects Connor Wong and Jeter Downs.
In the short term, Betts will fill an outfield with Joc Pederson/AJ Pollock in left and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger in center. Longer term, Betts and Bellinger figure to make one of the best outfield tandems in all of baseball. Since his first full season in 2015, Betts has never posted an rWAR under 6.1 in a season, including seasons of 9.5 and 10.6 in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
While his defensive game is superior to his offense, Mookie is certainly no slouch with the bat, and his rapidly improving plate discipline figures to make him even more valuable going forward, as he has increased his BB% to over 13% in each of his past two seasons. His elite on base skills (.413 OBP in 2018-2019) make up for a relative lack of home run power compared to other big stars in the league, but he is still a threat to hit 30 home runs in any given year. He is projected to leadoff in a star studded lineup that already consisted of Bellinger, Max Muncy, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner.
The Dodgers scored big by trading for Mookie, and they capitalized on their victory by securing him for the best years of his career. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how this affects the likelihood of extensions for players like Bellinger, Seager, and Walker Buehler. But for now, the Dodgers have their sights set on the 2020 World Series.