Could Mookie Betts Hit Free Agency and Never Play for LA?

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Call it... fate, call it luck, call it karma.  I believe everything happens for a reason.  Imagine if the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, then the season never happens and he re-signs with the Boston Red Sox?

Photo courtesy of RomeSentinel.com
Hogwash right?  Maybe not Red Sox Nation, maybe not. 

Major League Baseball and the players union are discussing numerous topics about the league due to the coronavirus ceasing all play due to the world wide epidemic of the virus.  The league is trying to start for June 1st, but that all hinges on how contained and under control the United States has the coronavirus. 
The league and the players union feel confident they can get the season started by then.  With the league starting on June 1st, the majority of all teams would have played about 58-60 games.  This will give you some context as to how many games behind the league would be due to the stoppage of play.  

On our recent Red Sox Podcast to be Named Later, we discussed the prospects of the league playing doubleheaders.  Now, I personally poo poo’d the idea because I didn’t think the players would go for it. 

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, he indicated he’s talked to numerous big leaguers and they’re open to playing doubleheaders if it meant “fattening” the schedule for the season. 

If the league opts to play double headers, my fear is it will be taxing on the bullpens. While the league is going to a 26-man roster, they should consider a one time rule change and expand rosters more to accommodate this already awkward season. 

MLBshop.com The Official Online Shop of Major League BaseballFrom a Red Sox perspective, they’re pitching is already thin and average at best.  The club will be without Chris Sale due to Tommy John surgery, they’ve traded David Price to the Dodgers and are relying on Nathan Eovaldi to be healthy for a complete season.  That is something he has not be able to do in his career. 

The Red Sox have a lot of arms to throw at the wall and at some point something should stick.  This offseason Chaim Bloom spent a lot of time adding depth all over the roster.  No one would have predicted the dilemma the world would be facing, but right now all those extra arms could prove to be extremely valuable to the Red Sox.

So now back to the original question at the beginning of the article.  What happens if potentially the league year is cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19?

On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark released an article talking about what happens if the league doesn’t play and players service time.  Dodgers right fielder, (that’s awkward to type as much as it is to read), Mookie Betts is scheduled to become a free agent.  Or will he?

Service time in baseball is a big deal.  It’s the difference of whether teams have control over players for at least six seasons.  The Blue Jays held back Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just so they could gain an extra year of control.  Had they called up Guerrero in 2018 during a miserable season for the Blue Jays, it would mean starting his service-time clock, which grants free agency to players once they surpass six full seasons in the Majors. 
Toronto played the system and will get a full extra year of Guerrero.  This type of roster manipulation is what Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant battled with his club over.  

Back to Betts, the league and the players union are negotiating allowing players to become free agents as planned despite the league not being played this season.  Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, George Springer, and JT Realmuto also would be eligible for free agency, even if the season is canceled.

That will suck for some teams, especially the Dodgers, who just acquired Betts from Boston.  Essentially they would have given away Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Conor Wong.  While it wouldn’t be the clubs fault, again, no one could have predicted the terrible affect the coronavirus would have not only on the world but the sports world alike. 

I kind of like the thoughts of the Red Sox now only dealing Price and eating half his money for the player return.  Obviously this is just me trying to make light of this situation, but some Sox fans will definitely grab hold of that notion and run with it. 

The two sides haven’t come to an agreement on a decision.  The league has been having conversations during the current two week layoff the sport has implemented. 

If the league does play, there’s a chance now the Dodgers only get 80-100 games of Betts.  With such a short season looming, could he realistically bolt LA and come back to Boston?

While the probability is slim, Mookie Watch is back in full effect.  The prospect of Betts coming back to Boston are tantalizing and the thoughts of a cancelled season sucks, but a cancelled season and Betts never playing a game for the Dodgers is down right lunacy. 

Whatever happens, I hope there’s some positive news soon.  Everything on TV is about COVID-19 and what it’s doing to this country.

Boston Sports Syndicate has not focused a ton on the virus because you can get that news and information everywhere.  We want to bring you a different perspective. 

Hopefully for the betterment of the world and not just sports, but for humanity we get a handle on this terrible virus and go back to normalcy. 

I miss baseball.


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Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Could Mookie Betts Hit Free Agency and Never Play for LA?
Could Mookie Betts Hit Free Agency and Never Play for LA?
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