Postscript on the Mookie Betts salary dump

Well it finally happened. The Red Sox have announced the dumping of RF Mookie Betts & LHP David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It turns out that LA GM Andrew Friedman was willing to give up young RF Alex Verdugo, which is the key piece in the deal. Verdugo missed the last two months of the 2019 season with core & back issues, which is a red flag.

If Alex Verdugo is an injury bust, then the Dodgers may win this trade. Unless Price goes down. That’s the only risk the Red Sox are taking in this deal. If Verdugo comes back healthy & productive, then the Red Sox did well to get what they could in this dump, as he’s under team control through 2024. That’s how the trade rates–meaning it’s wait & see.

The Dodgers also gave up RHP Kenta Maeda, a bargain starter who is locked in at $3.125M per year for the next four seasons, to the Twins for RHP Brusdar Graterol (MLB Pipeline’s No. 83 prospect), who was also sent to the Red Sox.

The Dodgers then sent RF Joc Pederson to the LA Angels, along with OF prospect Andy Pages, for young 2B Luis Rengifo who is still pre-arbitration. This makes room for Mookie Betts in the Dodgers outfield with Cody Bellinger & AJ Pollock.

The problem with these deals from the Dodgers perspective is that it makes them older in the outfield, as compared to Pederson, Bellinger & Verdugo. Plus, the extra productivity they get from Mookie Betts only lasts one season. But the real problem is that AJ Pollock is replacement level, and needed to be dumped. Instead he’s now being made an Opening Day starter for the Dodgers.

When that all washes out, this isn’t as much improvement as one would expect from getting a MVP-type player in Betts. In short, the Dodgers gave up too much to an organization that had no choice but to dump salary. They also took on too much risk in David Price for three years.

The Red Sox accomplished their goal of getting under the Competitive Balance Threshold (CBT) by dumping Mookie Betts & RHP David Price. Reports are the Red Sox will eat around half of the $96M Price is owed over his next three season, and all that money will count towards Boston’s CBT.

So the Dodgers get age-34 David Price, with all his elbow calcifications and other wear & tear. The Dodgers wanted to make a splash, and they did. But does it really help? Once again, time will tell. It’s questionable, for sure.

The other Mookie Betts suitor this winter was the San Diego Padres, who were reportedly engaged with Boston until the end. Padres had no interest in Price. A few proposals the Red Sox were floating through the media were as follows: 1) Padres get Mookie Betts; Red Sox get: C Luis Campusano (MLB’s No. 50 prospect), OF Taylor Trammell (MLB’s No. 57 prospect), OF Josh Naylor, LHP Joey Lucchesi, OF Wil Myers & cash. It was the Padres dumping Wil ‘WAR nil” Myers that made this deal untenable for the Red Sox.

Another rumored trade option was Mookie Betts (& cash) for: C Luis Campusano, OF Manuel Margot & LHP Joey Lucchesi. The problem there was the Padres being asked to give up too much cost-controlled talent for one year of Mookie Betts. Padres GM AJ Preller wisely refused both these scenarios. It’s catching prospect Luis Campusano that everyone wanted from the Padres this winter, after Preller declared top prospects MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño & CJ Abrams untouchable.

Sometimes there comes a point where you have to let go of a deal you’ve worked on for a very long time. This is what happened to AJ Preller. He wanted Betts, but more importantly he wanted to dump OF/1B Wil Myers. But that doesn’t mean giving away the farm, and that’s what the Red Sox were demanding. Remember, it’s the Red Sox who had to make a deal. They needed to dump to get under the CBT.

The Dodgers got their superstar for one season, and the Red Sox are now reset on the CBT, so they can go crazy again with payroll next year. Padres GM AJ Preller wanted Mookie Betts, but never lost sight of what was more important. He needs to dump Wil Myers, and therefore has to hold onto enough tradeable talent to make that happen.

If Preller trades for Betts to dump Myers on Red Sox terms, he empties his pool of young talent. That’s not worth one season of superstar production in RF for the Padres. It’s tough to walk away when one is so close, but it’s better than making a bad deal. It’s easier just to bench Wil Myers, and look for another deal. That’s what the 26th man on a roster can be used for now.

Since the Dodgers are in the same division with the Padres, these trades have major NL West ramifications. The Dodgers are again the clear favorite, but they’ve shortened their window of contention with this deal, and added major injury risk in David Price. If they don’t win a World Series in 2020, or if Price needs major surgery, then this deal busted and that’s a tough position to put your franchise in as a GM.

That’s why I don’t like this deal for the Dodgers, but love it as a Padres fan. The Dodgers were already top dogs in the  NL, and didn’t need to take this gamble. They just needed to make the right deal at the July 31 deadline. Andrew Friedman thinks they need help now. Mookie Betts is nice for this season, but David Price is a huge roll of the dice. We’ll see in 2020, and beyond.

The Padres are still much improved this winter. They are at least 10-12 wins better with the moves AJ Preller has made. But the MLB establishment keeps denying Preller the big prize he needs to take the next step up in competitiveness– whether is Shohei Ohtani, Christian Yelich or Mookie Betts. Preller was in on all of these players when they were available, and was in a great position to obtain them all, but got none of them. It’s clear the Padres are expected to give up more than anybody else to get the same player, and AJ Preller doesn’t subscribe to that. That’s why Mookie Betts & David Price ended up with the Dodgers.

Thu 06 Feb 2020 03:00 PM EST

Like the Iowa caucus, this deal has yet to be finalized. Here’s why?

The Red Sox projected hard-throwing righty Brusdar Graterol to be a starter, but now that they’ve seen the Twins medical, they’ve adjusted their projections to him being a reliever. Therefore the Dodgers or Twins [!] have to kick in another prospect, or send money back to Boston. Otherwise the deal is off, and this includes the Dodgers-Angels swap.

This is what it’s like doing business with the Red Sox. Padres GM AJ Preller must be really happy he let it go. Catching prospect Luis Campusano is now untouchable, and the Dodgers have a mess on their hands– either way. I can only imagine what Twins & Angels management are thinking. They thought this was an easy deal for them. Now they’re stuck, while the Red Sox bitch about their return, after their main goal was accomplished in dumping Betts & Price and getting RF Alex Verdugo.

Once again with the Red Sox can’t stop whining, while insisting on cheating everyone. The sports media is in their pocket, so these errors in scouting & evaluation by the Red Sox become an excuse to rescind, or “adjust” a deal they had to make.  Fans are still waiting on their punishment from MLB for sign stealing in 2018. The Red Sox get away with all this, because they are baseball’s equivalent of Joe Biden in politics. Zombies propped up by unlimited cash & idealist nonsense

Here’s my Ken Rosenthal impression on “adjusting” the Mookie Betts-David Price dump. “In a deal of this magnitude, with a lot of pieces moving, there can be glitches. The Red Sox mis-valued a prospect they agreed on, and therefore expect someone else to pay for that mistake. This happens all the time in trades [with the Red Sox].”

What everyone involved (including MLB) needs to tell the Red Sox is: the deal is “as agreed-up,” no changes, otherwise the Red Sox keep Betts & Price. Then what are the Red Sox going to do about getting under the CBT? The organizations involved need to unite and call out this Red Sox media bluff, in order to put an end to these garbage tactics. We’ll see what happens…