The deal is done, well pending physicals. That’s right, Mookie Betts is going to be a Dodger and it just doesn’t feel normal to say or write. It’s the reality that Red Sox fans are facing and unsurprising they aren’t very happy about it. Trust me, I’m one of them. Except don’t include me in the angry mob that’s going to John Henry’s house with their pitchforks and season tickets. Instead, it’s understandable why this move was made and made now. It was inevitable.
The harsh truth about Mookie Betts future with the Red Sox was…..there didn’t seem to be a future with the Red Sox. A guy that in his 6 years in the league posted a 42.0 WAR, which ranks 7th in MLB history, seems like someone you would want to keep around for the long term. The Red Sox tried. In 2018 they offered an 8 year - $200 Million contract, with an AAV of $25 million, and this year they offered a 10 year - $300 million deal that would’ve given him an AAV of $30 million a year. It wasn’t good enough.
Mookie Betts wants to be given a deal that would’ve put him on the same level as Mike Trout, a 12 year deal worth $420 million. The thing is, Mookie isn’t on Mike Trouts level. Do not get me wrong in the fact that Mookie Betts is without a doubt one of the top five outfield talents in the game. Mike Trout is a step or two above everyone, he's just that good. Let’s put it in perspective for a second, Trout since 2012 has finished 1st in MVP voting three times, 2nd in voting four times, and 4th once. On the other side, Mookie Betts has finished 1st once, 2nd once, and then outside the top 5 on two other occasions since entering the league in 2015.
The only option for the Red Sox and Chaim Bloom was to trade Betts. It just became a question of when and for what value? We got our answer Tuesday night. The Red Sox and Dodgers made a trade that saw Mookie Betts and David Price go to LA, Alex Verdugo and Brusdal Graterol come to Boston, and Kenta Maeda go to Minnesota . The return may not seem like much for most Red Sox fans, but it actually was a better deal then most realize. Verdugo can be plugged into RF to start the year and will still provide a good batting average and some thump like Betts did. He also gives the added bonus of five years of control. Graterol will be a toss up of if he starts in Triple A or on the big league roster, but has a sinker that hits triple digits. You can’t teach that and he could develop into a dominant relief pitcher for the foreseeable future.
The other part of the deal is that David Price and half his contract are gone. Price was never fully embraced in Boston and especially by the media. Having him and his contract out of town makes the Betts pill slightly easier to swallow. It also surprisingly puts the Red Sox in position to be one of the few teams that will have the money and willingness to sign Betts next off-season. Their luxury tax is reset and a decent amount of money gets freed up going into next years off-season. Of course, the chances of them pursuing Betts and him being willing to come back are probably slim at this point, but it was made clear over the past few years that Mookie seemed to be adamant that he wanted to hit the FA market when his time came.
The Red Sox made the right move in trading him. Whether it was Tuesday or in the middle of July, they couldn’t risk losing their MVP at the end of the season and getting nothing but a draft compensation pick in return. This move helps them in the long run with resetting their luxury tax and gives them young promising players that can help the next few years. I will say, the one poor choice in this situation was the Red Sox knew this was the most likely outcome with Betts, they probably should’ve held off on increasing ticket prices for this season. Just saying.
Overall, it was an unpopular move in New England, but one that in the long run was needed. It gives a franchise that has been so successful in the past two decades the flexibility to compete and continue that success moving forward.