WWJD #26: The Dodgers Sign Mookie Betts Long Term


On Wednesday the Los Angeles Dodgers signed right fielder Mookie Betts to a Major League Baseball record contract. The 12 year deal is worth an MLB record $365 million, which will start after this season. Betts, who is making $27 million this season ($10 million prorated due to COVID-19), will be a Dodger until the 2032 season when he is 39 years old.



First reported by Boston radio station WEEI’s Lou Merloni yesterday and picked up by every MLB reporter (including myself) shortly after that, the news sent everyone from reporters to Dodgers fans scrambling. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the contract details before anyone. Red Sox fans are throwing up in their collective mouths and are pissed off beyond belief, while Dodger fans are rejoicing over Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Freidman locking in one of baseball’s two best players after trading for him this winter.

Per The Athletic & MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal: “$65M signing bonus, which is not taxable for him as a non-California resident. Bonus helps compensate for relatively low salaries of $17.5M in 2021 and ’22 and also protects Betts against lingering pandemic issues and potential lockout.”

Rosenthal continued, “The bonus money offers tax benefits that the salary does not. It’s complicated. $115M of $365 million is deferred. The deal does not include opt-outs or a no-trade clause. But if Betts is traded, deferrals in subsequent years will be converted into present-day dollars, creating greater financial value.”


But what does this mean for the Dodgers and for Betts?


Photo Credit: Dodger Blue

The Dodgers and Freidman were under immense pressure to lock in Betts long term since acquiring him and starting pitcher David Price from Boston in February. The Dodgers gave up Alex Verdugo (L.A.’s top prospect, and MLB’s No. 35, a year ago), shortstop Jeter Downs (their third-highest ranked prospect on the 2020 Top 100 list, at No. 44) and catcher Connor Wong (No. 28 on the Dodgers’ 2019 year-end list).

Freidman has traded for big-name players in the past only to see them walk right out of L.A. (See Manny Machado) He knew he couldn’t do that with Betts, who is a once in a generation player, much like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim center fielder Mike Trout.

Until Betts signed his mega-deal on Wednesday, Freidman had Dodgers fans questioning if he would ever give a non-pitcher a deal over $100 million. Betts is the first positional player to get that honor with the team.

The most significant contracts ever handed out by Andrew Friedman were six years, $100 million to Evan Longoria, three years, $93 million to Clayton Kershaw, and five years, $80 million, Kenley Jansen. Mookie will earn more than the three of them combined.

Friedman told the media at the Dodgers press conference on Wednesday that it was a lot of “long nights talking to his agents at 2 in the morning.” He also said that he was looking forward to popping a bottle of champagne and getting some rest.

Betts also gives the Dodgers their best line-up since their last World Series title, all the way back in 1988. Dodgers fans are very outspoken about their team’s lack of a title since, all the while having one of the best records in Major League Baseball over the past five years. By signing Betts, it goes a long way on the field, in the Dodgers clubhouse, but also the fan’s eyes. They now feel like Friedman is out to win a title and not trying to penny-pinch in the nation’s second-largest market.


Mookie Betts is exactly what the Dodgers need on the field, as well as off of it.


Let’s start on the field. Betts is a 5-tool player. The 5-tools are: hit for average, hit for power, steal bases, play great defense, and have a strong arm. These players don’t come along too often, and when you have them, you lock them in for the long haul.



In 2018 Betts became the first player in MLB history to win the Most Valuable Player, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, batting title, and World Series in the same season. Betts is a career .301 hitter with 139 career home runs, 470 R.B.I., 126 steals, and an O.P.S. of .893. His career W.A.R. (Wins Above Replacement) is 41.8; simply put, Betts is arguably the best player in Major League Baseball. In this reporter’s opinion, Mike Trout is the only player that can be compared to Mookie.

Mookie Betts is like the perfect combination of an extremely athletic player who is a good baseball player,” said ESPN analyst and six-year MLB outfielder Chris Singleton. “There have been times where you’ve had really athletic people enter the sport, and it seems like because of success they had at football or basketball or whatever that it was going to translate to baseball automatically, and it doesn’t always do that.

To see how athletic he is, but yet mechanically sound and have the instinct of a person that just maybe you would think only played baseball in their life, that’s what’s impressive to me.”

I would argue that there is a sixth tool that doesn’t get talked about enough as well, leadership. Betts also has that.

Mookie recently told’s Ken Gurnick after rejecting the Red Sox offer of $300 million “The market will be what the market will be. Cross that bridge when we get there.” He said there are multiple more pressing issues, like player safety protocols that have him concerned about the season’s viability and the Black Lives Matter movement and baseball’s response to it.”

As for taking a more vocal role on how to increase African-American’s playing baseball Betts said, “The voices were heard …, and I hope it leads us to where we need to be.” Adding that Black players share the responsibility to “bring the game to the Black community. It’s on us, Black players, to kind of make baseball cool.”


Mookie Betts is a genuinely cool dude that Dodgers fans are going to love.


When the Astros visited Boston for a September series back in 2018, he surprised his old friend, formerly of the Astros, and now Oakland A’s Tony Kemp, by taking him to a Drake concert, where they met the rapper afterward. He has known Kemp for years. Back in Nashville, Tennessee, they played against each other as teenagers in high school.



After Game 2 of the World Series, he distributed food to the homeless outside of the Boston Public Library near the ballpark. This was something he did without any media around or anyone in his camp filming and releasing the footage publicly. He did this because it was the right thing to do, and it was in his heart to do it.

Before the start of Spring Training this year, the Dodgers held a team meeting to discuss the Astros and Red Sox cheating scandals that rocked MLB, and possibly cost the Dodgers two World Series titles. Betts, who won the title on that Red Sox team, impressed his new teammates with a speech he gave them.

When you stand up in front of the team on the first day and essentially call everyone out, says he wants to hold everyone accountable for their effort — not just in the game, but in the workouts — that’s like, all right, you learn what he’s about really fast,” said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. “The same principle as Kurt Gibson’s speech, just not critical of us. This was him saying this before he knew anybody. Just signs of leadership, it jumps out at you.”


He is also a member of Jordan Brand and endorses Body Armour and AXE bats. Jordan Brand has only 10 players on MLB rosters, so it shows how highly they think of Betts.


It was something that for a while I wanted to be a part of,” Betts said to the Boston Globe in 2019. “It’s a separate entity [from Nike], and I wanted to be part of a select groupTo get a Jordan contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re elite. But he thinks something of you, and that’s kind of cool to know for sure.”

Betts also helped design his shoes for Jordan Brand. He is exactly what every kid playing ball wants to be, on and off the field. The Dodgers just need him to be Mookie. If Betts can play at the level he has throughout his career, he will more than earn his money, especially if the Dodgers win a World Series or two.


Photo Credit: U.S.A. Today

It’s obviously a special day, kinda what I’ve been working for my whole life,” Betts told the media on Wednesday at his press conference. “My family has been a part of this, my parents have been a big part of this, everybody has been a part of this, and it’s a day I’ve been dreaming about. And for it to come true is definitely a blessing. I’m super happy to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career, and it’s an amazing, amazing opportunity that I will never forget.”

For the Dodgers and Dodgers fans, they two are happy to have Betts in the fold for the remainder of his career. He is a leader, a proven winner, an M.V.P. on and off the field, and the guy to whom Dodgers Nation looks to end a 22-year drought that has Los Angeles craving their seventh World Series title.



I’m here to win some rings and bring some rings back to L.A.,Betts told the media on Wednesday afternoon. Los Angeles and Dodgers fans wouldn’t have it any other way.



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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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