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Mookie Betts, Dodgers

Inside Mookie Betts’ unique Dodgers contract that will pay him until 2044

Imagine still getting paid by your team — 14 years from now. That’s the luxury baseball star Mookie Betts can enjoy in the next chapter of his career. The 2018 American League MVP has just signed one of the sport’s richest contracts last Wednesday, July 22, with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

The well-acclaimed right-fielder was dealt to the Dodgers by the Boston Red Sox in a shocking trade deal that left baseball fans and analysts stunned. The Ringer’s Ben Lindburgh writes

“No one this young and this good has ever been traded.” 

The Associated Press revealed details of the controversial mega-deal.

Signing Bonus: Mookie Betts is assured of a $65 million signing bonus even if there are unexpected work-stoppages or shortened seasons. Though, the Dodgers don’t have to pay him immediately, at least after a year. He will receive his in tranches: $5 million each of the first 12 years (2021-2035), $2 million each in the succeeding to years (2033-2034), and a $1 million-payment for the final year. 

Deferred Payments: The star right-fielder has also agreed to $115 million in deferred payments. Every July 1 in the next twelve years, Mookie Betts is set to receive $8 million each year for the first five seasons (2021-25), $10 million each for the next two (2026-2027), and $11 million each in the last five. 

Annual Salary: $17.5 million each in the first two years (2021-2022), $20 million in 2023, $25 million each (2024-2027), $30 million each (2028-2030), and finally, $27.5 million each in the last two years.

However, the deferrals would be canceled if Mookie Betts has been traded to another as he does not have a no-trade agreement on his contract. Some other perks include a guaranteed hotel suite for road trip games. The four time Gold Glove outfielder has also agreed to donate many of his earnings to charity: $100,000 annually.

Back when he was in Boston, Mookie Betts had $27 million in salary as part of a one-year contract he signed in January. Certainly, a small number compared to his current one with the Dodgers. Nevertheless, the baseball star would have been a free agent after this season.

Both the Red Sox and the Dodgers are well-funded and they can pretty much spend a lot more than the other teams for their player salaries, with Mookie Betts being a representative example.

Lindbergh writes about the context of the Mookie Betts deal:

“The Dodgers and the Red Sox are both big-market, high-revenue clubs with recent track records of success. The Red Sox had the highest payroll in baseball in each of the past two seasons; the Dodgers had the highest payroll in baseball in each of the four seasons before that.”

But it was the Red Sox who chose to let go of its homegrown hero, who played for them in five seasons (2014-2019) which ultimately led to the Dodger-Betts contract. There is no doubt he is one of the best baseball players at the moment but a long-term contract — what Mookie Betts originally wanted — demands that the star must remain productive even in his 30s.

This isn’t actually the first time the MLB has seen a contract over a decade long. In fact, the Mookie Betts-Dodgers deal is already the 14th of these blockbuster-deals. Right now, this deal ranks the second-largest in total dollars just after the $426.5 million,12-year contract for Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

While many franchises hesitate on huge amounts of player and team spending in light of the coronavirus pandemic, surely, the Dodgers have no similar plans. An organization which has often been reticent to splurge went all-out in this case with Mookie Betts.