• Ryan Costello

Red Sox Fans, Ya Betts Believe Mookie is Gone

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

For the past few weeks I have been writing a Hall of Fame story that has been postponed due to recent events and school work. During those few weeks the talks of trading Mookie Betts, a once-in-a-generation player, had been picking up traction. 

Last night, it became a reality after the Boston Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Alex Verdugo and the number 83 prospect in the MLB, pitcher Brusdar Graterol.

Around 100 years after the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1918, the Red Sox again got robbed of another future great in the year 2020. 

This trade was part of a three team deal involving the Red Sox, Dodgers and Twins. While the Red Sox got a used napkin for Betts and Price, the Minnesota Twins received pitcher Kenta Maeda and traded away Graterol to the Red Sox.

Mookie Betts is easily a top-three player in all of baseball. During Betts’s six seasons in the MLB he has accumulated a WAR of 42.0, other players who also had a WAR of at least 42.0 by that same season include names like Ted Williams, Albert Pujois, Wade Boggs, Mike Trout, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Dimaggio. 

What I’m trying to say is that this guy is pretty special. He was the 2018 AL MVP, had the 2018 batting title with a batting average of .346, and should’ve won the MVP over Mike Trout in 2016; at least I think so. He’s been top-10 in MVP voting for the past four seasons and followed up his 2018 campaign by scoring the most runs in the majors and finishing with a .295 batting average as well as 29 home runs.

Mookie and all his hardware after the 2018 season. Image courtesy of The Athletic.
Mookie and all his hardware after the 2018 season. Image courtesy of The Athletic.

David Price on the other hand wasn’t as tremendous last season. By the end of the season Price had a 7-5 record and 4.28 ERA, his worst stat line since his rookie season in 2009. But he’s still a former Cy-Young and a finalist for the award in 2015; maybe the Dodgers can bring him back to that same level of dominance.

Also a quick reminder, David Price shut down the very team he’s been traded to in the 2018 World Series. He was 2-0 and had a 1.93 ERA, so the change of scenery might benefit him.

David Price with his first World Series trophy.

My problem with this deal is the Red Sox organization's reasoning for it. The Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to get below the luxury tax. Let me repeat that. The Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to get below the luxury tax. Something they could’ve done by trading other assets who weren’t as valuable, or other big contracts on the payroll like the $95 million that was remaining on David Price’s record setting contract. 

One player that comes to mind, who will always have a spot in my heart, is Jackie Bradley Jr. Although JBJ is the best defensive outfielder in baseball, he’s an offensive liability whose batting average drops below the Mendoza line during the summer months of the season every year. Jackie is expendable and could’ve been replaced with a less reliable player like Sam Travis.

Another problem I have with this deal is who we got in return for the two stars. Of all the people the Dodgers have on their roster and in their farm system, the only player we got from that team was Alex Verdugo? We couldn’t have pushed harder for players like Gavin Lux or Dustin May, who are currently a couple of the top prospects on the Dodgers?

I would’ve preferred if the Red Sox had traded Betts and Price to the Padres because of the potential return. From what I heard about the talks between the two organizations, the trade would have been Mookie Betts and David Price for Wil Meyers and two top ten prospects. I would’ve gladly made that trade over the meatball the Red Sox actually got for them.

I’d also like to say that I’m not mad at Mookie’s decision not to sign an extension with the team. John Henry and Chaim Bloom low-balled the shit out of Mookie and Scott Boras. Instead of attempting to pay Betts his market value, Bloom offered him a deal of 10 years, $300 million this off-season. Mookie thanked him by countering with an offer of 12 years, $420 million, which is Mike Trout money.

Scott Boras is an agent notoriously known for helping players get huge contracts. Some of his clients include Manny Machado, J.D. Martinez, and Bryce Harper.

Now, Betts isn’t Mike Trout money but he’s worth at least $350 million, especially after what he’s done since entering the league in 2014.

The ownership also treated this situation like the Baltimore Orioles did when they traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers in 2018. The situation in Baltimore differs completely from the one in Boston because the Red Sox have the money to pay Betts. The Orioles are a small-market team who can’t afford to pay Manny Machado $300 million, but the Red Sox are worth $6.6 billion dollars. You’re telling me some of that couldn't have gone toward the face of the franchise?

I also understand why the ownership wanted to make this trade. They needed better draft positioning, and after years of being over the luxury tax, the penalties will only get worse. The team also needs to rebuild their farm system because it’s one of the worst in baseball. Even with talented players like Bobby Dalbec and Triston Casas, the Red Sox’s farm system doesn’t match up to that of the likes of the Tampa Bay Rays or the Chicago White Sox.

I really hope this trade works out for the team. This offseason has been really rough for fans, from losing the fan favorite manager Alex Cora, losing Mookie Betts, and not signing Brock Holt. We have some young talent on the roster already who are willing to continue carrying the torch like Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, and who knows, maybe we’ll be able to sign Mookie when he becomes a free agent next summer. The ripple effects from this trade are yet to come.

I’d like to end on a good note, so here’s a clip of one of the highlights of Mookie Betts’s career and the 2018 Red Sox’s season.

Update: The trade may fall through because of Brusdar Graterol's shady medical records. The three teams have officially finalized the trade as of February ninth. The Dodgers will be receiving Mookie Betts, David Price and Brusdar Graterol from the Red Sox and Twins. The Red Sox will be getting Alex Vertigo, the Dodgers number five prospect; Jeter Downs, and catching prospect Connor Wong from the Dodgers. The Twins will receive Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. The biggest losers from how this trade played out? The Los Angeles Angels.

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