3. Mookie Betts re-signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers
Is this me being a bit optimistic because I am a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and am very excited about Mookie Betts being in Dodger blue? Yes, it definitely has that woven in. However, it should not be a foregone conclusion that Betts is simply going to leave in the offseason, as there is a decent chance the Dodgers sign him.
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First of all, the Dodgers have a natural head start on re-signing Betts and have the room to do so. While the team is over the luxury tax threshold this season, they are freeing up over $40 million in space after the year and Betts is already making $27 million.
Even with arbitration numbers going up, the Dodgers could afford to pay Betts another $8-10 million, or even less if he works out a contract like Bryce Harper‘s.
The team then has the contracts of Clayton Kershaw ($31 million per season), Kenley Jansen ($18 million) and David Price ($16 million) freeing up the following two seasons. The Dodgers could re-sign any of those players for cheaper, but that right there frees up $65 million annually.
So theoretically, the Dodgers would be paying Betts slightly more than they are now and are getting over $100 million in freed-up contracts. They would have enough to maintain the core as well as Betts.
Betts could either sign a long-term deal or I would not be shocked to see him sign a massive short-term extension as well to maximize his career earnings.
We have seen the Dodgers offer these high AAV deals before and a three-year, $120 million contract might be intriguing to Betts if the market is not there. He could then enter the free-agent market at 31 and get another eight-year, $250 million contract, maximizing his earnings.
And that is important as well: what is the market for Mookie Betts in the offseason? Every team should want to sign Mookie Betts but there might not be that many players.
The New York Yankees are already well over the luxury tax cap and don’t need a corner outfielder, the Los Angeles Angels are going to sign another big contract and the Boston Red Sox already weren’t going over $300 million.
What other big market teams can outbid the Dodgers? The Astros are in a salary cap bind, as are the Cubs. The Phillies cannot afford Betts and have no need. The only teams that could reasonably bring Betts in would be the Washington Nationals or New York Mets.
If you look at the salary cap situations of the biggest teams that are in on these free agents it is clear that the Los Angeles Dodgers have an inherent advantage. So whether it is that high AAV, short-term deal or a massive contract (which they did offer to Gerrit Cole), the Dodgers may end up calling the shots.
Mookie Betts will be a Dodger for longer than just one season, and while there is optimism involved, I will keep telling myself that until he signs elsewhere.