The reported cost for him is Alex Verdugo plus a few other good prospects, which is a very high price to pay for a rental, even one as talented as Betts. So should the Dodgers make a move for Betts and how would he fit on the team?
The short answers are absolutely and very well.
A True 5-Tool Player
The only thing keeping Mookie Betts from being the consensus top player in baseball is he plays at the same time as the best player of all time, Mike Trout. Since coming into the league full-time in 2015, Betts has been the second-most valuable player in baseball behind Trout, according to wins above replacement (WAR). Betts’ 35.4 WAR puts him 8.8 wins behind Trout (44.2) and 7.6 wins ahead of the 3rd player, Kris Bryant (27.8).
Top 15 in WAR/650PA through age 26 since 1901:
— Scott Ross (@ScottRoss15) January 31, 2020
Betts has a talent level that you don’t see often. He is a true 5-tool player as he can hit over .300 with 30+ homers and steal 30 bases, all while playing top-tier defense with a strong arm. The impact he can make on any game is tremendous.
At the plate, Betts does everything you want a good hitter to do. His career average is .301, he averages 27 home runs per full season, he has a career 10.2% walk rate and 12.8% strikeout rate, and he consistently hits the ball hard. Putting that all together, he is a career .301/.374/.519/.893 hitter with 139 home runs, a 135 wRC+ (35% above average) and a .377 wOBA.
Another added benefit of adding Betts to the Dodgers’ lineup is he is a right-handed bat, which would help balance their lefty-heavy lineup.
On the bases, Betts has 126 career stolen bases (an average of 24 per season) with a career-high of 30. His BsR (Fangraphs’ baserunning statistic) backs up his prowess on the bases as he has an average BsR of 8.06, where 8 is considered excellent and 0 is average. Although he is an excellent baserunner, he isn’t the fastest player in the league with a sprint speed of 27.9 feet per second, placing him in the 73rd percentile of players, according to Statcast.
Besides being one of the best offensive players in the game, Betts is also one of the best defensive players. Since 2015, Betts has produced the 3rd most defensive value among outfielders, behind Kevin Kiermaier and Billy Hamilton, according to Fangraphs.
By Baseball Savant’s outs above average (OAA) metric, Betts was in the 92nd percentile of outfielders last season with 7 OAA, tying him with Cody Bellinger. He also had an added catch percentage of 2% as he made 88% of plays when he was only expected to make 86%, which is very good, but just shy of great. For comparison, Bellinger was at 3% and the top player, Kiermaier, was at 6%.
Mookie Betts is a three-time Gold Glove award winner. Nobody forgets that. pic.twitter.com/RnVJBS52Jo
— Austin J. Eich (@Eich_AJ) August 5, 2019
Betts has the ability to play any spot in the outfield but he has the most experience in right field with more than 5,000 career innings there. However, if the Dodgers decide they prefer Bellinger in right, Betts would also provide high-level defense in center.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Betts’ defense is his arm. Through his career, he has averaged 9.4 outfield assists per season. While there aren’t many publically available metrics for arm strength, Betts has reached at least 97 MPH on a throw, which came in 2017, according to Statcast.
We don't recommend it. pic.twitter.com/bqlEo7P25V
— Red Sox (@RedSox) September 24, 2019
Adding Betts to any team is more than adding production; he is a face-of-the-franchise type player with a lot of hardware to back up his stats. He was the American League Most Valuable Player in 2018, he’s a 3x Silver Slugger (2016, 2018-19), a 4x Gold Glove Winner (2016-19), a 4x All-Star (2016-19), the 2016 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year, the AL Batting Champion of 2018 and a member of the 30-30 Club (2018). To top that all off, he was also named MLB’s Heart and Hustle Award winner in 2018.
What a year for Mookie Betts!
All-Star, Gold Glove, Defensive Player of the Year, Silver Slugger, Batting Champion, World Series Champion, MVP, Heart and Hustle Award, and just became a dad pic.twitter.com/xLHr5sNCw4
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) November 16, 2018
The Dodgers already have 2 former MVP’s on their roster in Clayton Kershaw and Bellinger, how about a third? It sure would be fun to debate who the best player on the Dodgers is between Bellinger and Betts.
Players like Betts don’t become available too often, and the impact of adding a player like him to the team would be positive all around.
Betts will enter free agency next season at 28 years old as one of the best players in the league. It has already been reported he is seeking a 12-year, $420 million dollar contract, which might sound outrageous, but it’s right around market value for a player like him.
If he does end up a Dodger in 2020, he will fit in well. If they re-sign him or bring him to LA for the first time as a free agent, Betts will fit into their plans until he reaches free agency again or retires. Knowing you have a talented player like Betts long term would be a huge plus for any team, one that likely comes with a World Series championship. The question would end up being will Betts goes into the Hall of Fame with a Red Sox hat or a Dodgers hat.