MLB

Will the Dodgers Be Able to Keep Mookie Betts in 2021?

Mookie Betts went from being the toast of Boston to the newest weapon of the Los Angeles Dodgers in what felt like moments. After an offseason in which rumors about his imminent departure spread like wildfire, the Boston Red Sox finally dealt their talented right fielder. But now that the dust has settled and Betts is moving to the other coast, it raises an interesting question: will the Dodgers be able to hold onto him? The answer isn’t so simple. Let’s break down Betts’ run in Boston, the trade, and whether L.A. will be able to keep him in Dodger Blue. 

Mookie Betts’ career in Boston

The Red Sox drafted Mookie Betts in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He made his MLB debut in June of 2014. Betts quickly become one of Boston’s best and most beloved players. Here’s what he was able to accomplish in a Red Sox uniform: 

  • Wins Above Replacement (WAR) level of 42
  • 965 hits
  • 139 home runs
  • .301 batting average
  • 613 runs scored
  • 470 RBIs
  • 126 stolen bases
  • .374 on-base percentage

Betts was also a four-time All-Star selection, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, a one-time batting champion, and the 2018 Most Valuable Player. Betts’ efforts with the Sox culminated in a 2018 World Series championship. 

Baseball Reference prepares similarity scores for each player to put their career into the proper context. Here are the players Betts compares favorably to based on his production: 

  • Christian Yelich
  • Charlie Blackmon
  • Johnny Frederick
  • Kris Bryant
  • Anthony Rendon
  • Trot Nixon
  • Yoenis Cespedes
  • Rusty Greer

Mookie Betts may not yet be an all-time great, but he compares favorably to Anthony Rendon, Kris Bryant, Christian Yelich, and some of the best players of his generation.

The trade that sent Mookie Betts from Boston to L.A.

The Red Sox didn’t trade Betts because of any on-field issues. Betts has been a tremendous player and a model teammate. But Betts expressed interest in eventually testing free agency, and it was clear the Red Sox weren’t going to give him the extension he sought. Here’s what Betts had to say before the deal: 

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.” 

Mookie Betts

In the end, the team and the player couldn’t reach a long-term deal. Despite reaching an agreement in arbitration of a one-year, $27 million deal, the Sox sent Betts packing. 

As cold-hearted as it may seem for Boston to unload Betts, they didn’t ship him to Siberia. The Dodgers are a championship-caliber team that has two World Series appearances in the last three seasons. They’re looking to win now, and Betts certainly makes them better equipped to do that. But how long will they have Betts’ services?  

Will the Dodgers be able to keep Betts in 2021? 

Newly-acquired Dodgers star Mookie Betts will be a free agent after the 2020 season, but do the Dodgers have a chance to keep him in Los Angeles?
David Price (left) and Mookie Betts. | Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

As noted above, the Red Sox and Betts agreed on a one-year deal in arbitration. That means the Dodgers took quite a gamble on this deal, as they’ll only be guaranteed just one year of Betts’s services. But where can we go? 

CBS Sportsline ranked all MLB teams on how likely they are to pursue Betts in the offseason. Teams in the top five of their rankings include the San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, and Atlanta Braves. All would certainly pop open their checkbooks for Betts. But the team they have ranked number one is the place he was just dealt — the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

The Dodgers have never been a team to shy away from a big deal. Unless something catastrophic happens with Betts proving himself to be a bad fit in L.A. this season, expect them to pony up for a long-term deal to keep Betts in Chavez Ravine for the foreseeable future.