The Dodgers capped off the 2019 offseason with the biggest wave of them all; a trade for MVP candidate and one of the greatest current baseball players: Mookie Betts. After making one of the biggest baseball moves of the decade it seemed the Dodgers were set up for a slam dunk of a season. Unfortunately with the coronavirus pandemic affecting our the certainty of our institutions we may be looking at a drastically shortened season with the possibility of a limit on the number of fans attending games. With all this uncertainty looming over baseball and the Dodgers one has to ask, does this harm the value of the Mookie Betts trade?
A better question might not be “does this harm the value”, but rather “how much” is this trades value harmed?
When you think of the Mookie Betts trade in terms of pure value, both on and off the field, you don’t just consider the boost he’ll bring to on-the-field performance. When you trade for one of the greatest players in the game you aren’t just trading for his on-field production; from a business standpoint you’re bringing in a flood of revenue from increased ticket sales, boosted media exposure and an overall boost in fan experience. When talking about the Dodgers it seems crazy to think that one single player could exponentially boost the exposure and revenue of a organization that is the definition of “top-class”, but we aren’t talking about any player. We aren’t even talking about a run of the mill All-Star. We’re talking the next best thing to Mike Trout. We’re talking about the golden child of the East Coast. We’re talking Mookie Betts.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) March 8, 2020
You can pencil Betts in for a .900+ OPS over the course of a full season and when you factor in the lineup surrounding Betts there’s more than a good chance he sees career highs across the board. I wouldn’t doubt he’d hit 35+ HR’s for the Dodgers and shatter his current career-high RBI total of 113. Betts is a run producing machine who so happens to share a lineup with a host of run producing monsters. You have the two-bag terror in Corey Seager, who was a league leader with his 44 doubles on the season in 2019. There’s Clutch King Justin Turner, who slugged .531 when batting with 2 outs (187 Total Plate Appearances). There’s also fellow MVP candidate Cody Bellinger, who doesn’t need a stat run through to point out how dangerous he is.
But it seems as if all of that would be in jeopardy; not only are we set up to miss Betts taking a shot at 35 HRs, we’re missing out on a whole run of career highs and record breakers. Bellinger definitely won’t be touching 40 HRs if the season is cut short and we may be cheated out of giving Justin Turner a proper final hurrah should this be his final season as a Dodger. Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger battling head to head for the NL MVP is the must see ticket to end all must see tickets, yet with the state of baseball in flux we may not get the full value of that rare ticket.
The fact of the matter is we’re looking at a season that may not begin until June and with rumblings from Bob Nightengale and even former MLB player Trevor Plouffe that the season might be on hold until July with the possibility of no fans in attendance things are looking more dire by the day. This would take things either one of two ways; either we’re looking at Christmas baseball (which would be legendary) or we’re looking at a dramatically shortened season. Are we looking at a season cut right in half? Maybe not, but we’re at the point where that isn’t out of the total realm of possibility. Team owners definitely would not be on board with that much lost revenue; yet that’s where the problem lies, it won’t be up to team owners.
This is where the value of the Mookie Betts trade comes into play, and again we aren’t talking pure on the field value. A big part of the Mookie Betts trade centered around the Dodgers providing salary relief for the Red Sox by taking on half of the David Price contract. The Dodgers are out $40 plus mil and while that’s not a big concern considering the financial successes of the Dodgers it was expected that boost in revenue from securing Mookie Betts would take pressure off the Dodgers boost in payroll. That’s where the shortened season hurts the Dodgers the most. Betts is bringing the entire East Coast world of sports media with him, and with that an entire fanbase of Mookie Betts loyalists.
Sure all teams are going to be hurt by the financial losses from a shortened season though it seems the Dodgers might be feeling the burn the hardest. If it truly comes to pass that the MLB will put a cap on fans coming to games, with a possibility of no fans, the Dodgers will be fresh out of luck. This isn’t just hurting the business, this is going to hurt the fan experience BIG time. Do you think the Dodgers would have traded for Mookie Betts if they knew the season might be shortened and there could be little to no fans coming to see the games? I don’t know about you but I find it highly unlikely the Dodgers would pull the trigger if they saw the possible financial void looming in the near future. It’s not like Dodger fans will be able to conveniently sit at the television and watch Mookie Betts play either; so not only have Dodger fans been robbed of the ability to be able to sit at home and watch their team, they might just have the opportunity to see Betts live stolen from them too.
All in all the Dodgers are upgrading in the grandest way possible with Mookie Betts and no doubt will be a playoff terror in 2020. But it isn’t so much about the destination of winning the World Series, it’s the journey in watching the team climb from zero to 100+. We might not even get to see the Dodgers attempt to secure 100+ wins this year. At the end of the day it’s clear the Dodgers won’t be receiving the value they thought they would from Betts though that is no fault of Betts. The Dodgers will be making another World Series run whether it takes place in a 162 game season or an 81 game season without a doubt, though the idea that fans may be barred from games sucks some life from that notion.
A World Series run is a World Series run no matter how you cut it, but then again if a tree falls and no one is around to witness it does it make a sound?