Mookie Betts: MLB Superstar

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Cooper O'kelly, Staff Writer

On Feb. 11, the Los Angeles Dodgers finalized a trade with the Boston Red Sox for All-Star and former MVP outfielder, Mookie Betts (along with pitcher David Price and cash considerations). In exchange, the Red Sox acquired young talent in prospects such as Alex Verdugo (outfielder), Jeter Downs (shortstop), and Connor Wong (catcher) in the blockbuster move of the year. Now, everyone knows that Mookie Betts is a great player, but the 2020 Postseason made everyone wonder: just how great is this guy? 

Betts hit .296, stole six bases, knocked in eight runs, and scored fifteen runs from the leadoff spot in the Dodgers’ batting order. His stats don’t do his spectacular defense and his leadership enough justice, as he was the tipping point that finally got the Dodgers a ring. People may look at all this and wonder, why would the Red Sox let him go? And the reason, of course, is money. Betts had one year left on his contract with the Sox going into the 2020 season, so they offered him an absolutely enormous amount of money in a ten year, $300 million dollar contract extension. As you might’ve guessed, it was turned down and the Red Sox weren’t willing to give up any more than that, so they decided to shop Betts. The Dodgers, obviously ended up with Betts and signed him to a twelve year contract worth $365 million.

The Dodgers are based in a huge market in LA, meaning they have a lot more money to spend than teams based in smaller cities such as Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City. Because they have the money to give up for Betts, trading for and extending him was worth it for the Dodgers. The Red Sox aren’t based in a small market in Boston, but it certainly isn’t as big as LA. They ultimately decided that giving that much money to one player would give the team a lot less room to grow and be a better team over the next decade. Difference in market size leads to different ways teams win championships and strategize across all sports. Small market teams build chemistry and their rosters traditionally by mainly using homegrown talent through drafts as well as some from trades, but typically don’t sign big ticket free agents because they don’t have the money. This is how the Rays set up their team and made it to the World Series. As I explained with the Dodgers example, big market teams are able to build their teams with free agents and have huge salary payouts each and every year.

With all the questions swirling around Mookie Betts and the Dodgers surrounding the trade, the contract, and his value throughout the year, the move was worth it for L.A. as they came out World Series Champions.