LOS ANGELES — Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers struck baseball’s first big-money deal since the coronavirus pandemic decimated the sport’s economics, a $365 million, 12-year contract on Wednesday through 2032 that removes the top offensive player from next offseason’s free-agent class.
The outfielder, who turns 28 in October, was acquired by the Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 10 along with pitcher David Price for three players.
Betts had agreed to a $27 million, one-year deal with the Red Sox, a salary that has been reduced to $10 million in prorated pay because of the shortened season.
His deal is baseball’s second-largest in total dollars behind the $426.5 million, 12-year contract for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout covering 2019-30.
A four-time Gold Glove winner, Betts won the 2018 AL MVP award en route to Boston’s World Series title. He hit .295 with 29 homers and 80 RBIs last year, down from a major league-leading .346 average with 32 homers in his MVP season.
The Dodgers also optioned prospect Gavin Lux and agreed to a one-year deal with reliever Jake McGee.
Angels’ Trout says he’ll play, even with baby on the way
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mike Trout has decided to play for the Los Angeles Angels in the shortened baseball season, although his year will be paused in a few weeks by the birth of his first child.
The three-time AL MVP confirmed his decision Wednesday before the Angels’ final exhibition game against the San Diego Padres at Angel Stadium.
Trout expressed uncertainty earlier this month about the safety of this unique major league season, saying he wouldn’t risk his growing family’s health to participate. After three weeks of experience with the regulations put in place by the Angels and Major League Baseball, Trout is cautiously confident in a safe season.
“I’m playing,” Trout said in a video conference call. “It’s definitely been great so far.”
Trout will be in the lineup when the Angels open the season Friday in Oakland, but he won’t be joined by Anthony Rendon. The Angels’ new $245 million first baseman will miss opening day and perhaps a few more games with an oblique muscle injury, manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday night.
Blue Jays’ bid to play in Pittsburgh blocked
TORONTO — The state of Pennsylvania won’t allow the Toronto Blue Jays to play at PNC Park in Pittsburgh amid the coronavirus pandemic, health officials announced Wednesday, becoming the latest jurisdiction to say no to the team as the baseball season begins this week.
Canada already had denied the Blue Jays’ request to play in Toronto because the regular-season schedule would require frequent travel back and forth from the United States.
The agreement to share the stadium with the Pirates was pending state approval, according to two anonymous officials.
Pirates president Travis Williams said the organization worked closely with city officials to get a proposal ready for the state to review. The state ultimately decided to pass.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said if the Blue Jays can’t find a major league park, their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., would be their most likely site for home games.
MLB to allow social justice messages on uniforms
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball players have the option of having a patch with “Black Lives Matter” or “United For Change” on a jersey sleeve on opening day of the pandemic-delayed season.
Teams have the option of stenciling an inverted MLB logo with “BLM” or “United for Change” on the back of the pitcher’s mound during opening weekend games.
After discussions among the commissioner’s office and the Major League Baseball Players Association, The Players Alliance and individual players, each player may use a wristband with an inverted MLB logo in which the silhouetted batter is black, the first use of such a logo.
Each player also may use a Black Lives Matter batting practice T-shirt or a T-shirt designed or obtained by the player or his team.
MLB is lifting cleat restrictions for this season, giving players the ability to put messages for social justice and causes on their spikes.
Mets: Marcus Stroman has a torn muscle in his left calf, a major blow to the New York Mets two days before their season opener. Mets manager Luis Rojas said the team doesn’t anticipate Stroman needing surgery and he will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.
Rockies: Colorado reliever Scott Oberg will start the season on the injured list because of back soreness. Oberg was 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA and five saves in 49 games for the Rockies last season.
Royals: Kansas City’s Hunter Dozier has tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed on the injured list. He joins catcher Cam Gallagher, first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, catching prospect Nick Dini and relief pitcher Daniel Tillo, who are all on the injured list with COVID-19.
Yankees: New York closer Aroldis Chapman remains asymptomatic but continues to test positive for COVID-19, according to GM Brian Cashman. Chapman remains in his New York home but will be unavailable to the Yankees in Thursday’s opener.