On the eve of beginning a season in which they are a World Series favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers addressed both the immediate future and long-term outlook of the franchise by signing Mookie Betts to a 12-year contract extension worth a reported $365 million.
The signing not only eliminated the possibility of Betts essentially amounting to a rental for what’s become a shortened season, but it represented a landmark commitment for a franchise with a rich history. Particularly when factoring in Betts, who reportedly rejected contract extension offers from the Boston Red Sox last year.
“It’s obviously a special day. It’s what I’ve been working for my whole life. My family has been a part of this, my parents, everybody has been part of this whole thing,” Betts said in his first press conference after signing.
“This is the day we’ve been dreaming about and for it to come true is definitely a blessing. Super happy to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career. This is just an amazing opportunity that I’ll never forget.”
Betts was accompanied by Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who revealed extension talks were first broached in Spring Training. “And then obviously the world kind of changed on us, which put things on hold for a while,” he said.
“But it was front of mind for us, it was something we really wanted to do and were hopeful we could find an overlap and make it work for all sides.”
Talks resumed within the past week, and while conversations went deep into the night, Friedman said it was a relatively seamless process due to both sides sharing the same goal.
That Betts would already commit to the Dodgers — especially on such a long-term contract — came as a surprise to some. But Betts continued to make his affinity for the organization abundantly clear.
“When I got here, seeing all the talent that you just don’t see every day. Obviously it’s a team that’s won so many division titles and been to the World Series, been to the playoffs, there are obviously great players,” he said.
“But all up and down the organization, there’s a lot of talent here. I know the Dodgers will be good for a long time with everybody that’s up and coming, and who’s here also. I definitely know that I love being here, just everything about here. I’m super, super excited for what’s coming.
“It’s a long-term commitment but I wouldn’t want it with anybody else other than an organization like this.”
Vindication for Friedman
Throughout his tenure as Dodgers president of baseball operations, Friedman unfairly has been painted as someone who was not willing to do what was necessary to acquire marquee talent. Trades for Yu Darvish and Manny Machado debunk that narrative, but the Betts signing represents a different level.
“I think patience is extremely important, roster management and making sure we’re as good as we can be in a current year,” Friedman said. “We’ve talked about this, and rightfully so, our fans don’t really care about 2023 or 2024 until we get there.
“We have to try to strike a little bit of a balance between that. Patience isn’t necessarily a virtue of mine, but we’ve had to kind of practice it throughout this. If you’re going to make a bet like this, you want to feel as confident as you can about the human, about the person, about how much they care, about their work ethic.
“Again, we can’t imagine feeling more confident than we do with Mookie. Us staying patient and doing things to help us in the short term but not necessarily costing us in the long term, has provided some flexibility. We’re really excited with how it turned out.”
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