Dodgers Should Expect No Unconditional Loyalty from Mookie Betts

Tired of bragging rights limited only to “the Best in the West” for seven consecutive years, LA Dodgers fans rejoiced in early Feb. when former AL MVP Mookie Betts officially became part of the team for the upcoming 2020 season. Surely, the addition of the four-time Golden Glove winner could be the missing puzzle piece to finally give the Dodgers a championship trophy post-Y2K era and make the third time the charm after tasting World Series defeat two years in a row. With Opening Day indefinitely delayed due to COVID-19, Betts’ last year bound in contract could be a short one as he prepares to become a hot item as a free agent in 2021 and possibly score one of the most lucrative deals in baseball history. However, with worst-case scenario risks of the upcoming season being suspended for good, many baseball fans wonder if Betts will make Los Angeles his permanent home regardless, or seek another team for the next season. While many—mostly Dodgers fans— believe Betts owes the franchise loyalty during and after this crisis, others understand the ways of the game and expect Betts to make the decision based on what team makes his pockets fatter. Though Spring Training was canceled earlier last month, Dave Roberts appeared optimistic about Betts wearing the Dodgers uniform this season in a video call appearance on ESPN's Sports Center. "We are gonna play baseball in '20," Roberts said. "But to, you know, to see a guy and you hear so much about a guy's makeup and work ethic and to live to that, to that standard [is] very rare and that's what Mookie and David [Price] did."

While Roberts also mentioned Price made comments to him about Betts appearing more social than usual by taking initiative to "call them out" and give a speech on how he could contribute to the team finally getting a trophy, it doesn't necessarily imply Betts has any commitment to the team past this current season. Let’s get this straight, Betts did NOT voluntarily choose to wear the Dodgers uniform. The 2018 AL MVP did NOT dream of reaching the major leagues to specifically “Bleed Blue.” When you remember Betts was traded by the Boston Red Sox for payroll flexibility, you remember what it's all about at the end of the day. Money. The amount of Betts' loyalty to the Dodgers will only be as big as the amount they're willing to invest in him. Should the season be canceled altogether, perhaps Betts's price tag will lower due to inactivity. Even then, however, he would probably opt out for a short one-year contract to get back into rhythm and remind all the teams of his capabilities to eventually have them salivating for him waving wads of cash in his direction. Whether the Dodgers are willing to dig deep into their pockets to keep Betts a Dodger in the actual field for seasons to come all depends on if and when the season resumes. If the season is suspended and Betts decides to wear a different uniform for 2021, surely he'll face backlash from Dodgers fans who will call him a traitor as the Dodger who never was.

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