News struck on Tuesday night that flipped the baseball world on its head, as Mookie Betts headlined a blockbuster trade between the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. The 2018 AL MVP is headed to Los Angeles along with southpaw David Price in what is easily baseball’s biggest trade of the offseason. Here’s a quick recap of the full three-way trade:
Los Angeles Dodgers receive: Mookie Betts, David Price, Cash (from Boston)
Boston Red Sox receive: OF Alex Verdugo (from Dodgers), P Brusdar Graterol (from Twins)
Minnesota Twins receive: P Kenta Maeda (from Dodgers)
Betts, who is still just 27 years old, is only year removed from wearing the AL MVP title. His current WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is an astonishing 24, and his consistency both at the plate and in the outfield are arguably at the status of other elites Christian Yelich (Milwaukee Brewers) and Mike Trout (LA Angels). Why then, would the Red Sox choose to get rid of him?
The cold, hard truth is, the Red Sox chose saving money over Mookie Betts this offseason. Boston was staring the luxury-tax right in the face after an extremely disappointing 2019 season. Before the trade, the Red Sox projected to finish nearly $20 million over the luxury-tax. Betts currently has $27 million left on his contract and counterpart David Price has a whopping $96 million. Mookie will also be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season, so I’d expect the Dodgers to do everything they can to get an extension or new deal done for Betts this current season.
In a separate deal, the Dodgers were set on sending promising young outfielder Joc Pederson and pitcher Ross Stripling across town to the Angels in exchange for infielder Luis Rengifo. This move would allow the Dodgers to acquire Betts and Price while also keeping the team out of the luxury tax this year. There would also be minor leaguers involved that be exchanged.
When Red Sox fans think of Mookie Betts, they will think of this at-bat. It was the defining moment of the winningest season in Red Sox history. pic.twitter.com/OZ9VgA4vmI
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) February 5, 2020
All deals seemed like they were in the bag…until they weren’t.
After all social media platforms exploded with the news of the blockbuster, there were questions and concerns brought to light Tuesday night into Wednesday morning centered around the health of Brusdar Graterol. The Red Sox expressed concern after receiving medical information about Graterol and have now opened negotiations for additional compensations in the deal. That, in turn, has put a sudden halt to all player transportation, as no official trade has happened as of Friday, February 7th. Something also to note: Joc Pederson had to attend an arbitration meeting against the Dodgers since he technically had not been traded prior to the meeting date. He consequently lost the hearing and will be paid $7.75 million in 2020 instead of the $9.5 million he originally was shooting for.
As of Wednesday, February 5th, you can get the Dodgers at +200 odds to win the National League Pennant, and +400 odds to win the 2020 World Series. For what it’s worth (obviously it’s extremely early), I don’t think you’re going to get better odds for LA to win the Pennant at any other point this season. If the trades do end up going through, Dodgers and New York Yankees would stand alone as the league’s top two teams and would frankly seem like they are in an arms race against each other. The acquisitions of superstar Betts and extremely solid LHP David Price would be a jaw-dropping counter to the Yankees signing of Astros elite arm Gerrit Cole earlier this offseason.
With Spring Training on the horizon, how long will these teams hold out for before eventually coming to terms? We’ll have to wait and see.