From some Dodgers fans’ perspectives, Andrew Friedman has not had a great career. Missed World Series wins and missed free agent signings had fans thinking he would never get the Dodgers over the hump. But this time, he came through.
Over this past winter, the Dodgers missed out on the two biggest free agents on the market. They did offer pitcher Gerrit Cole a huge contract, but Cole wanted to be a Yankee, so a Yankee he became. They also were in talks with Anthony Rendón, but he wanted nothing to do with the “Hollywood Lifestyle.”
In the 2018–2019 offseason, the team explored giving then free agent Bryce Harper a huge contract. He wanted a very long-term deal, ultimately getting 13 years from the Philadelphia Phillies, but the Dodgers did not want to offer that much of a commitment at the time.
But, last February, Friedman and Company pulled off a huge trade. There were complications with it, to be sure, and for a while Dodger fans were not certain that Mookie Betts and David Price would actually be coming to Los Angeles. As we all recall, the Los Angeles Angels pulled out of a trade that would’ve sent Ross Stripling and Joc Pederson to Anaheim, because the Angels owner got tired of waiting around on the other contingent part of that plan.
The Dodgers front office persevered, ultimately dealing with the both the other two partners in the trade, the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox, on their own. The Dodgers traded pitcher Kenta Maeda to the Twins for relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol, and outfielder Alex Verdugo and prospect Jeter Downs to the Red Sox for Betts and Price.
Friedman in a press conference Wednesday said that they made that trade with the thought that they would be pursuing Betts to sign long term. Well, he accomplished just that.
On Wednesday, the Dodgers organization announced that they had signed Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365 million contract. Including this year’s contract, the 27-year-old outfielder will be remain a Dodger for the next 13 years, making $393 million over that time.
This deal, in and of itself, is enough to forgive Friedman for any real and perceived missed opportunities. But there is so much more to take into account. Friedman has gotten many players via trade that will help now, and has simultaneously built a farm to supplement the current players as well as the new ones who have arrived through those trades.
Graterol has been stellar so far this Spring/Summer. The Dodgers have a boon of starting pitchers, so Maeda was expendable, and he also will get the full starting pitching job he deserves in Minnesota, where he is reportedly slated to have the No. 2 slot in their rotation. Pitcher Josiah Gray has been turning heads in Summer Camp, a prospect brought to the team through a trade that had sent Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and Yasiel Puig to the Cincinnati Reds in the 2018-2019 off-season.
The Dodgers now have two former MVPs roaming their outfield and three total on the team. They have two former Rookies of the Year in Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager. They have multiple players who would be future ROYs, in Gavin Lux, Gray, and Keibert Ruiz. They have the perfect mix of veteran players, superstars, and up-and-coming young talent, and that is all thanks to Friedman and his front office staff.
It’s not like Friedman also hadn’t tried to get the Dodgers over that proverbial hump in the past. He made the trade for Yu Darvish, and we all know what happened there. He made the trade for Manny Machado, and again, the World Series ring didn’t come to fruition. But this feels different.
Not lost in all of this is that the organization which first brought a black man to the Major Leagues finally has a marquee black player again. This man will be the face of the organization for more than a decade, and especially in these times, it’s needed and beautiful to see.
The Dodgers may not win the World Series this year. They may not win one next year, either. But I have no doubt they will win one soon, and that will be because Friedman has played chess and put together a squad that could win in any one of these next few seasons, and will continue to do so down the line.
In a world that’s currently full of a lot of crap, it’s time to really revel in being a Dodger fan. For right now, we can bask in what is yet to come, and it all looks fantastic.