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Trading Betts: The Sox Come Up Snake Eyes

Without exaggeration this is the worst Red Sox trade since The Babe became a Yankee. This is curse inducingly bad!

I didn’t realize how ticked off I was about this entire ordeal, until someone asked me about it in the office this week and it only took me about 27 seconds to start yelling.

There is ZERO defense for this trade. ZERO. This isn’t about Mookie Betts’ being selfish or money hungry, this is about the Red Sox painting themselves into a corner with shortsighted signings over a period of time, all the while the Betts contract hung on the horizon like a bad moon rising.

It’s amazing that with all of the reasons given defending this decision, fans have bought into any of the rhetoric sluicing down Jersey Street. One by one, let’s shoot down these clay pigeons.

Excuse: “Well they weren’t going to be able to sign him after the season so we might as well get something back before him.”

But did they? Did they really get anything back for Mookie Betts and David Price? Alex Verdugo, youngish outfielder who has more off the field allegations than dingers on the field, feels more like someone the Dodgers would like to dump than a prize for the future. Joc Pederson would have been a better addition and he’s half crazed. The Dodgers only dealt him to the Angels in their next breath after obtaining Betts, so it’s not like they weren’t willing to part with Pederson who is more known for homers in the Derby than any in real games. The Sox instead get Verdugo who appears to be carrying more baggage than the trucks that departed Fenway last week.

Excuse: “But what about Brusdar Graterol, he throws really hard!”

Dude flunked his physical. He flunked a Major League Baseball physical. So just to recap, the Red Sox just got a wounded pitcher and more bad press than Jose Altuve could stuff in a trash can, for the best player the franchise has ever drafted.

**UPDATED** The Red Sox don’t get the hard throwing dented can, the Dodgers get him too. Instead the Red Sox get Jeter Downs. That’s like the Yankees drafting a high school kid named Big Papi UPS.


Excuse: “But they had to dump Price’s salary!”

Well they missed the proverbial Houston Dumpster (don’t Google that), because the Red Sox are still going to pay roughly half of the $16m per year on Price’s contract. Not only that, you’re giving away a 27-year old who has won a World Series, an MVP, and 4-gold gloves to dump half of a World Series hero that you signed for too much.

Also, wasn’t the point of dumping Price’s salary to free up money to pay Mookie Betts in a year? By doing it right now, you’re admitting that you won’t do what it takes to sign Betts and you’re more concerned with luxury tax penalties than winning in 2020 or keeping a cornerstone talent for the next decade.

This isn’t Betts and Price running out on the Red Sox, this is a divorce. Where else would you break up and still pay half? (By the way, Price isn’t getting talked about, but how ugly is this going to get this year? Price, ((good riddance)) is going to drag this team through the mud every chance he gets. The Red Sox on the other hand will probably give Eck his own post-post-game show where he gets to rip Price for a half hour every night.)

Excuse: “But Mookie wanted $420m over 12-seasons, nobody but Trout is worth that much!”

I’ll bet $300m that this figure came directly from the within the walls of Fenway Park. If Betts wants $35m a year, and you want to offer $30m a year, you’re not that far apart, but when you print that Betts allegedly wanted, $420 million and the Red Sox want to pay $300 million, it feels like they’re worlds apart.

David Ortiz said in his book, that in his negotiations with the Red Sox he realized that the team values outside free agents more than their own home grown talent. Everybody this week cited, and correctly, the Jon Lester offer in 2014. Less than a year after Lester was an October War Horse, the team gave him an offer more commiserate to Rick Helling than Curt Schilling.

Here’s the infuriating part, all the pundit’s saying that the Red Sox can’t get more than this for Mookie Betts because “He could walk at the end of the season.” Well the Sox traded Jon Lester to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes. Lester was only under contract for 2 more months. This is a season of Mookie Betts, and that isn’t worth more than a couple pseudo prospects in return? (From a team that is LOADED with the top prospects in all of baseball.)

The Red Sox couldn’t be surprised with Betts’ request, they’ve seen what comparable top talent signed for just a year ago when Harper, Trout, Arenado and Machado signed monster deals. It wasn’t like this came out of right field.

I would rather have played the season, with the status quo, and let the chips fall where they may next off season. One more season with Betts and even Price is more valuable than Verdugo and Jeter Downs in perpetuity. It also would be more desirable for this transcendent talent to choose to leave, than to usher him out the door under the auspices that you “had to do this.”

This was a choice the Red Sox had, and after years of exceeding the luxury tax threshold, they picked the worst possible time to become financially responsible.

I like to believe that this move could open the door like the last Dodger dump did in 2012 when we saddled them with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and an aging Josh Beckett, then turned around and won the World Series in 2013. That won’t happen in 2020. It’s too late in the game to add any talent and the current edition has huge holes.

I like to believe that this will allow the team to lock up Rafael Devers a few years from now, but the money will probably already be spent on the next Pablo Sandoval.

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