Red Sox: No Longer a Threat
One of the most beloved Red Sox stars is on the move. Once considered part of the future, if not the centerpiece for the Sox, Mookie Betts was traded away Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning) in a blockbuster, 4-team trade that also saw the Sox dump veteran lefty David Price. Both pieces were sent packing to the Dodgers, a team desperate to win now after 7 straight division titles without a World Series. I might argue that the Dodgers were already an amazing team heading into the 2020 season, yet it is clear that their sights are set on going all-in on this season.
This all comes only a year and a half after the Red Sox themselves defeated the Dodgers in a pretty lopsided 2018 World Series that saw the Dodgers win only 1 game. However, I see no problem with the Sox doing business with their former opponent. In fact, I applaud their destination choice due to the irregularity of regular season play between the two teams. It's always a pain when a free agent departs for a division rival (such as Jacoby Ellsbury in 2014), but to get players, specifically impactful players, into a different league is always the most ideal scenario.
Now, onto the reasons behind Boston's decision...
What were they thinking??? Betts has proven himself to be a player with once in a generation type talent! I get that he only had one year until free agency but you're telling me the Red Sox had given up all hope of signing him after the 2020 season? Sure, his asking price was hefty, but I find it very doubtful any team would have given Betts a 5+ year deal with an AAV of $40 million+. There's only one player who belongs in that territory, and no one is even close to his league. At the very least, Boston could have given its fans one more season with their young phenom. With Betts, their offensive was deadly. They ranked in the top of the league in nearly all offensive categories; it was their pitching that had let them down. Now, their lineup still looks good, but it isn't nearly as threatening as it had been before. I honestly don't care that Boston wanted to get beneath the luxury tax threshold. In my opinion, giving up their best player, the AL MVP only a year ago, was way too high of a price.
I will say this, though: I can't say I'm overly sad to see David Price go. After being signed to a record-breaking 7-year, $217 million contract prior to the 2016 season, the former Cy Young had severely under-performed. After posting a 3.09 ERA in his first 8 seasons, Price owned a 3.84 ERA from 2016-19 with Boston. I had loved Price has a player with the Rays and later the Blue Jays and I thought the signing would give Boston the legitimate ace they were looking for. Instead, he became only a solid starter who you could potentially put as your number 3. In short, the Red Sox lost money here.
But that money will continue to be lost for the 3 years remaining on Price's contract! Despite giving up Betts, it is reported that Boston will have to pay roughly half of Price's remaining salary. The Dodgers will get Price at the cost of what he is probably actually worth today (should he stay healthy), and they even do so after the loss of lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. Boston dumped some of the salary, but considering one of the great stars in the game was included, I believe they should have to dump more.
In return, Boston netted OF Alex Verdugo from LA and RHP Brusdar Gaterol from Minnesota. Verdugo should be a solid player, but I find it highly unlikely he will ever come close to Betts's ceiling. Gaterol, similarly, will probably never reach the levels Price did in his prime. The returns do not come close to meeting the costs for the Sox. While it may have been necessary for them to get below a certain threshold, it comes at the cost of essentially taking the Red Sox out of legitimate contention. Their offense was what made them the competitor every team feared, but without Betts, I doubt they will find as much success even as early as last season.