Regardless if there’s a season, Mookie Betts will become a free agent in the offseason. Does it make sense for the San Diego Padres to pursue him?
The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers were the two teams most interested in acquiring Mookie Betts during the offseason. The Dodgers ultimately landed the 27-year-old with the Red Sox hellbent on getting under the luxury tax threshold.
Betts took home the 2018 AL MVP and looked to be the missing piece for the Dodgers World Series pursuit, but they may not even have the chance to use him. With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving the 2020 baseball season in limbo, there is a chance Betts hits free agency without taking an official at-bat in LA.
But the pandemic may also significantly hinder Betts’ chances of landing the highly sought after mega-contract. With no revenue from baseball games – and games without fans still being detrimental – it’s difficult to understand how each team approaches the upcoming offseason.
Betts is not getting a $350M contract from anyone, much less the Padres, but that should not prevent them from pursuing him when the free agency period opens.
The white elephant in the room is Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer‘s contracts. Both were free-agent prizes of the 2018 and 2017 offseasons, respectively. However, they also account for a combined 34.4 percent of the team’s payroll in 2020 and 59.2 percent next year.
Now, if they can find a way to unload Wil Myers‘ contract, they’d be in much better shape. Not to mention that Garrett Richards‘ $8.5M and Kirby Yates‘ $6M contracts come off the books after this year as well.
Betts could be tough to pry away from the Dodgers, but it’s been done before (e.g., Machado). They’d have to find that balance of the right deal that Betts is looking for while keeping eyes on upcoming extensions.
The other alternative is to sign him to a shorter contract with a higher AAV to make it more attractive while Betts is still in his prime.