Over the past four years, there have not been many players in Major League Baseball better than Mookie Betts. He won the MVP two years ago, while also helping the Boston Red Sox win a World Series Championship. As good as he was, the talk through the past couple of seasons has been about whether or not Boston would be able to re-sign him. Sure enough, after a tumultuous off-season, the Red Sox have finally pulled the trigger and sent Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On the bright side, the Dodgers were willing to take David Price off of Boston’s hands; a pitcher who has done anything but live up to his seven year, $217 million contract. This came as a shock to many, and truly was the key part in getting the deal finalized. When Price was a free agent four years ago, he was ready to sign a contract with the Saint Louis Cardinals. Due to a $30 million better offer, the Red Sox were able to outbid the Cardinals, bringing Price into a city he had no desire to be in. He sure allowed that to be seen day in and day out during his tenure here in Boston. Whether it was fighting with team broadcaster and legend Dennis Eckersley, getting hurt playing video games, or bullying the media, Price was a disaster from the start and it was evident that no one wanted him here. While he did have a great postseason run in 2018, the good never ended up outweighing the bad. He had to go, and the Dodgers did the Red Sox a huge favor.
With all of that said, Boston is still paying for half of Price’s remaining three years on his deal. On top of that, they parted ways with one of the best position players in the league just to get under the luxury tax. The Red Sox have had a top five payroll for about two decades now, so it certainly frustrates fans when money is talked about as an issue. Teams that trade players of Betts’ caliber are typically small market, low budget teams who are just attempting to get younger and restart the cycle. Teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees are supposed to retain the Betts’ of the world; or trade for them, which is what the Dodgers did in this case.
Looking at the return, it is fair to question if Boston got anything close to what they deserved. It ended up being a three-team trade, with the Minnesota Twins getting involved. The Red Sox acquired Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers, a young outfielder who is talented but comes with some question marks, and Brusdar Graterol, a pitching prospect for the Twins who gained north of 45 pounds in one year and no longer looks as if he can be a starter. When it is put like that, the Red Sox definitely do not come out of this trade looking like winners. However, there are so many more factors that must be considered.
Over the past two years, the Red Sox and Betts have discussed contract extensions on multiple occasions. Each and every time, they were at least $100 million apart. In other words, they did not see eye to eye, and realistically, he was never re-signing here. He has made it clear that he wants to hit free agency and attempt to get Mike Trout money ($400+ million). This upcoming season, he is on a one-year, $27 million deal, in which he will then hit the market as an unrestricted free agent next off-season. Therefore, the Dodgers are taking a gamble on him, knowing that he will be a flight risk regardless of what they offer. On top of that, they agreed to pay half of Price’s contract, and more importantly, agreed to welcome Price to town. Between taking on Price and knowing Mookie’s uncertain future, the assets needed to complete the deal were much less valuable than they would have been in a different circumstance. It is hard to tell how the 2020 season will go for the Red Sox, but one thing that is for sure, they will miss Mookie Betts incredibly.