Thanks to Andrew Friedman, Mookie Betts is now a Dodger. After failing to lure Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon to Los Angeles (actual Los Angeles) in free agency, frustrated fans chalked up this winter as a Friedman failure.
Leading up to this 2020 season, fans began to wonder if Friedman had the stones to trade away top prospects for a proven superstar after the Francisco Lindor negotiations fizzled.
The Los Angeles #Dodgers and Cleveland #Indians continue to be engaged in serious trade talks for Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, with Cleveland seeking a package of Dodgers prospects including Gavin Lux and Dustin May.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 11, 2019
A fan base thirsty for a championship did not buy Friedman’s trio of pitcher signings, Blake Treinen, Jimmy Nelson, and Alex Wood, as “win now” moves that put the Dodgers over the top.
The “they’re not trying win a championship” train promptly rolled into the station.
“Stan Kasten and the Dodgers want to stay under the Competitive Balance Tax.”
“The Dodgers are cheap.”
“Friedman won’t trade prospects for superstars.”
Time to re-evaluate.
Not only did Friedman trade his 2018 top prospect and a current Top-100 prospect in a package for a young superstar on an expiring contract, he also traded for a 34-year-old starting pitcher under contract through 2022. I repeat, he gave up two highly valued cost-controlled assets for a possible rental. And you thought you knew Friedman.
Friedman’s aggressive pursuit of Betts proves at least one thing – the Dodgers will not be satisfied with just another division title this year. This is a push-your-chips-to-the-center-of-the table move that fans were clamoring for.
Best part is, Friedman still has a couple stacks left.
Friedman got Betts and Price without trading Lux, May, or Gonsolin.
BOW TO HIM! pic.twitter.com/bd7DJSiHBv
— Jim Furlong (@EWOKinLA) February 5, 2020
No disrespect to the Mannys, but Mookie Betts is better at this point in his career than when either Ramirez or Machado arrived at Chavez Ravine. Ascending superstars of his caliber aren’t available often and Friedman pounced.
We don't recommend it. pic.twitter.com/bqlEo7P25V
— Red Sox (@RedSox) September 24, 2019
Manny Ramirez came to Los Angeles at the tail-end of his career and still produced prodigious hitting stats (.332/.594/1.032) en-route to two playoffs runs but was a complete defensive liability.
The impressive 25-year-old Machado arrived in July of 2018 as a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. 25-year-old Betts was a three-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover, two-time Silver Slugger, 30/30 player, and most importantly, a League MVP.
Neither Ramirez or Machado were five-tool players when they came to the Dodgers. Betts stands eye to eye with Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout in the best all-around player conversation-figuratively of course.
Another key reason Friedman was able to acquire Betts was his willingness to take on David Price’s contract. Price is past his prime and isn’t worth $32M a year, there’s no debating that. However, Boston is reportedly paying half of the remaining $96M which is a much easier pill to swallow for a legitimate number three starter. Friedman still got value out of one of the worst contracts in baseball.
To be fair, this trade is not without risk. The Dodgers might lose Betts in free agency next winter, Price could continue to battle injuries, and Alex Verdugo has the potential to be an absolute stud for years to come. Maybe Jeter Downs pans out as an everyday shortstop.
The risk-averse Friedman placed the biggest wager of his Dodgers tenure on Mookie Betts and a starting pitcher he knows better than anyone in Price.
Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon may have won big paydays, but Friedman won the offseason.