Did the Dodgers extending Mookie Betts pave the way for Francisco Lindor to the Yankees?
Prior to the Dodgers’ impressive acquisition of Mookie Betts this offseason, back when everything was normal, it was still largely assumed the LA would eventually pool their eggs in the Francisco Lindor basket. The Yankees, of course, had signed Gerrit Cole, someone the Dodgers had reportedly been saving up all their available funds for, a choice that had been years in the making, which we only learned about once the ink was dry in New York.
Then, Los Angeles changed the baseball landscape by adding Betts via trade in response.
Then, every other landscape in the world tilted on its axis, and it seemed Betts might never play a single game in Dodger Blue, leaving every big name future free agent firmly in the Dodgers’ grasp.
That wicked game came to an end on Wednesday, when reports emerged that the Dodgers were on the verge of extending Betts for 12 additional years beyond 2020. Now, does the pendulum in this absurd call-and-response swing back to the Yankees?
Though the Dodgers’ funds never seem to run dry, they…have to be thinking about retaining their home-grown talent now, right?
Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler are free agents after 2023 and 2024, respectively, and though LA may have second thoughts about maintaining everything if they bring home multiple titles from 2020-2023 (after all, you can’t be champions forever), those two will likely be remaining in Hollywood.
The team also just manipulated Gavin Lux’s contract, sending him to the minors to get a crisp additional year of control, even in a 60-game sprint. Clearly, they want Lux on the infield for as many years as they can get.
With Los Angeles seemingly making every preparation not to pay Lindor, where can he go, other than the Yankees?
The notion still feels a little absurd — DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres aren’t enough for you? Not extending The Machine feels like a fool’s errand, and that decision will have to be made a year before Lindor becomes available. The Yankees also have the same issue as the Dodgers, needing to find a way to extend Aaron Judge and Torres — and don’t forget about Gary Sanchez, too.
It does seem, though, that LA and New York will be ping-ponging high-dollar free agents back and forth for the next decade or so, and the ball is now in the Yankees’ court (unless the Mets and their new ownership enter the proceedings).
What about LeMahieu at third, and a middle infield of budding superstars? We can’t say it’s likely, but Lindor’s not going to Southern California anymore. His next step is anyone’s guess.