On Wednesday afternoon, both Mookie Betts and David Price made their first appearances at Chavez Ravine as members of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Needless to say, high praise for each player from front-office boss Andrew Friedman and skipper Dave Roberts was not spared in the least.
Said Friedman of Betts, “he embodies everything we value in a position player.”
Indeed, there was no shortage of excitement from both the players and management alike.
One of the most interesting comments from Friedman, however, came on Monday when he was a guest on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio. Friedman explained that he started working Chaim Bloom on Betts’ availability even before Bloom was officially named the Boston general manager.
“It’s been a long road. Even when I was talking to Chaim when he was interviewing with the Red Sox, I was getting in my Mookie comments to him if he got the job,” Friedman said. “It took him a little while to get his arms wrapped around everything.”
Coincidentally, Bloom worked for Friedman during his days in Tampa.
What’s more, Friedman confessed that he spent a significant amount of time inquiring about Betts with Boston’s former president of baseball ops, Dave Dombrowski. When asked by Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times if they made progress, Friedman said, “The Red Sox won a bunch of games in a row and they stopped the discussions.”
Betts last year slashed .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs and 80 RBI for the Red Sox, primarily hitting in the leadoff position. His efforts tallied him a 6.6 fWAR, good enough for fifth-best in the American League.
Another topic of conversation was the matter of uniform numbers. As expected, Betts will wear his usual No. 50, while Price has selected No. 33. Price has donned three other numbers—10, 14 and 24—over the course of his 12-year, big league career. However, he indicated he selected No. 33 as a tribute to one of his Tampa mentors, “Big Game” James Shields.
“David was a huge part of the culture and the success we had at Tampa,” Friedman said of Price. “What he brings [to the L.A. clubhouse] goes well beyond what he does every fifth day on the mound.”
When asked to share a few words about his new outfield mate Cody Bellinger, Betts stated, “He won an MVP last year so he’s definitely going to put on a show. I’ll do my best to keep up with him.”
Surprisingly, there was a question thrown at Betts regarding a possible contract extension with the Dodgers, but the 27-year-old native of Nashville admitted it was entirely to early for him to digest such a concept.
“Right now, I just got here,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about that. I’m just focused on 2020 and going from there.”
A 3-1/2 minute portion of the press conference has been linked on the Dodgers’ team website.
Aside from the Betts/Price presser, there was a bit of other team news that took place on Wednesday, as righty reliever Pedro Baez won his arbitration case and was awarded a $4 million salary for the upcoming season.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Baez was represented by Kelvin Nova, Jeff Fannell and his associate Kap Misir.