Gregory Bull/Associated Press
Even though he is going into the final year of his contract, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts said Monday free agency is “on the back burner,” per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
Betts had spent his first six seasons in the majors with the Boston Red Sox but was sent to Los Angeles in blockbuster deal in February. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, he hasn’t played a regular-season game yet with the Dodgers and has only appeared in eight spring training contests.
Though the 27-year-old said he had “doubts” he would ever play a game in Los Angeles, the shortened season will allow him up to play at least a few months with his new team before hitting the open market.
The Dodgers also have high expectations for 2020, listed by Caesars Palace as co-favorites to win the World Series. They are tied with the New York Yankees with +350 odds to win the title ($100 bets win $350).
A championship run could affect Betts’ decision going forward.
Either way, he stands by turning down his reported 10-year, $300 million contract offer from the Red Sox in January.
“I don’t regret turning down that,” Betts said Monday, per Chris Cotillo of MassLive. “Once I make a decision, I make a decision. I’m not going back and questioning myself. I don’t worry about that. The market will be what the market is. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
This will be a story to watch throughout the season with the outfielder likely becoming the top free agent on the market next winter.
Betts has earned an All-Star selection in each of the last four years with four Gold Glove awards and three Silver Sluggers. He was named MVP of the American League in 2018 after hitting a league-best .346 with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
His 33.8 wins above replacement since 2016 rank second in the majors, behind only Mike Trout (35.5), according to ESPN Stats & Info. Max Scherzer is third on the list with a 28.0 WAR.
The Tennessee native has become one of the best all-around players in baseball, and his next contract could challenge recent big deals for Bryce Harper (13 years, $330 million) and Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million).