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Elephant Rumblings: Mookie Betts, Dodgers sign biggest contract in MLB history

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MLB news roundup

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

One of the MLB teams hurt most by the coronavirus pandemic was supposed to be the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Before the season they swung a massive win-now trade to acquire one year of superstar Mookie Betts, only to spend months wondering if the whole campaign would get canceled and he would become a free agent next winter without ever playing a game in their uniform. Even with a 60-game schedule, they would only get a fraction of the time they’d hoped for with him, while still being stuck with a couple expensive years of David Price in 2021-22 that they took on as a salary dump.

All of that is no longer a problem. Betts will stay with the Dodgers after 2020 after all, very possibly for the rest of his career. The two sides agreed to a gargantuan 12-year contract extension on Wednesday that will run from 2021 through 2032, the team announced. Betts will receive $365 million on top of his existing 2020 salary, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN, which sets a new MLB record for most new money on a deal.

The previous record was held by another Southern California outfielder, Mike Trout of the Angels. The three-time MVP inked a $360 million extension before the 2019 season, though that deal was for only 10 seasons and thus holds higher annual value. Among other salary records, Bryce Harper’s $330 million contract is the largest ever for a free agent, and Gerrit Cole’s $324 million this past winter is the most for a pitcher.

Speaking of Trout, the Angels outfielder announced on Wednesday that he will officially play in the 2020 season, reports Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic. He had publicly expressed his uncertainty over the last few weeks about whether he might opt out, especially with his wife due to give birth during the season, but for now he’s going for it — with the caveat that a further outbreak could cause him to reevaluate. Even with the A’s facing the Angels 10 times this year, this is still excellent news, because Trout is the best player in baseball and the sport is better with him in action.

As for Betts, the A’s face his Dodgers three times this summer in interleague play (in late September), though that was going to happen regardless of whether he signed an extension. They also play the NL West in 2021 interleague, including three against the Dodgers for their second series of the season from April 5-7, so now he’ll be around for that too.

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