By JACK THOMPSON, Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dave Roberts figured his contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers would happen sooner or later. A few other things just got in the way.
“What it means to put this uniform on every day, and really respecting the Dodger tradition and the people who came before me,” the manager said Friday after agreeing to a three-year extension that takes him through the 2025 season.
Roberts’ contract was due to expire at the end of this season. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Roberts, who took over for Don Mattingly beginning with the 2016 season, has won 62% of his games (542-329), the best record in baseball over the last six seasons.
In that span, the Dodgers have won five National League West titles, three NL pennants and the 2020 World Series.
Last season, Los Angeles was 106-56, matching the best full-length season of 2019, but finished one game behind San Francisco for the division title. The Dodgers then beat the Giants in five games in the division series before losing to the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series.
Part of the reason for the delay in the announcement of Roberts’ extension was because after the 99-day Major League Baseball lockout ended, the Dodgers were negotiating with free agent Freddie Freeman, who signed a six-year deal with the Dodgers earlier this month.
“We didn’t start talking about this until right before the lockout,” Roberts said. “I think we just kind of had little kind of, we’re going to try to figure something out and then after the lockout, and then we kind of got, I don’t want to say sidetracked.”
“I knew it was going to get done, I was hopeful. it wasn’t a priority for me individually. I think that us as an organization to focus on the players, and then obviously with what happened with Freddie, and things took precedent, which I completely understood and agreed with. But to get it done before the season, I think, it’s exciting for me and my family,” he said.
The 49-year-old Roberts admitted that with the pressure of managing a team with high expectations, he sometimes thought about what it would be like elsewhere.
“I did think about it at times. And I say that, not because I didn’t appreciate the job. I just felt that, at times, for me to do right by the Dodgers and the players, they have to have all of me. And in a world where there’s so much gray, I asked the players to be either in or out.”
“At different times, it’s like, ‘How long do I want to do this for?’ I think it’s a fair thought that anyone should have,” he said.
But in the end, Los Angeles was the only place Roberts wanted to be.
“I love this organization so much,” he said. “And I think that I’m very embedded with the fan base, the players, and I just feel that I can help impact lives by doing this job. And I think you guys have seen me more vocal kind of outside the baseball lane the last couple years. I take a lot of pride in that, and not being lost that I’m a baseball manager and not a political voice or a social voice,” he said.
The pressure seems not to be a factor now, as Roberts said Thursday that the Dodgers will win the World Series this season.
“You know, it’s something that I just believe,” he said Friday.
“In 2020, I felt that our guys had the combination of urgency, the talent in the room, the undeniable focus to win a championship. And I’m seeing a semblance of that this year. It’s certainly easy for me to say that when you have a room of talented players like we do have. I just am not afraid to put my thoughts out to the public,” he said.