"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

All Betts Are Off!

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts talks to reporters at 2016 All-Star Game availability. (Arturo Pardavila III)

Wowzers, you see it coming and yet…

Boston, still without a manager a week before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, traded two of their most significant players to the Dodgers, right fielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price, in a three-way trade also involving the Twins for regarded young outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers, and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol from the Twins.  The Twins in turn get starting pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers.  It is indeed a seismic move involving three star players changing coasts and leagues at the same time (well, Maeda goes halfway, but you get the picture). In a likely corresponding move to make room for Betts, the Dodgers also traded outfielder Joc Pederson (along with a rookie league prospect) to the Angels for a young infielder I’ve never heard of, but will likely be pushing for a spot during the upcoming Spring Training portion of the show.

What’s the initial take? Dodgers pretty much get a Golden Ticket to the 2020 post-season (as long as they stay healthy) with Top 5 (Top 3?) outfielder in Betts, but then what of former All-Star and current borderline albatross David Price? Fortunately for L.A., the Red Sox are apparently sending a boatload of cash with him in the deal, and apparently by sending Maeda to the Twins, who send one of their pitching prospects to Boston, this evens out somehow.  They are once again the team to beat in the N.L..

For the Twins getting Maeda, who finished 3rd in ROY voting in 2016 after eight largely stellar seasons in Japan, goes a long way in stabilizing a rotation that has Jake Odorizzi leading a staff including José Berríos, Homer Bailey and… um… yeah.  Michael Pineda will finish out a 60-game suspension in mid-May while Rich Hill recovers from surgery and will probably return sometime in June.  Minnesota needed this after having a huge season, yet falling short to the usual suspects in the playoffs.

The Red Sox, you say? I was having an offline discussion about this; basically this is salary relief in the disguise of retooling.  They get a young(er) outfielder plus a prospect in Verdugo from the Dodgers and Graterol from the Twins, while also getting something instead of nothing for Betts.  While they apparently have to pitch in a significant portion of Price’s salary to move him, he’s essentially one less conflict they have to deal with head-on (and vice-versa).   Thus the price (pun… not intended, but liked) for a championship (albeit with a cloud hovering over it) and spending with near-reckless abandon to achieve it. The fans will probably HATE this move, but will definitely find ways to rationalize it.

Why does this matter to us Yankee fans, you might also ask? (You might, rabbit, you might…) Well, obviously it weakens a close competitor significantly; what Boston gets in return does not move the needle much as far as contending is concerned.  If anything, they get a young player with value and more years of control and a really manageable salary… but GTFOH, he’s not Mookie Betts. He’s not charging up Aaron Judge in man-to-man WAR comparisons… not yet anyway.  The pitcher they get may or may not make the rotation, that remains to be seen.  All-in-all, the Red Sox accomplished their main goal in shedding significant salary, and we should be happy they did, more contending for the Yanks.  And the best part is Mookie’s in the NL now, so the Yanks don’t haver to face him (or Price for that matter) nearly as much.

So that’s that so far. I may easily change my mind about all of that as more updates come; whereas much of this happened only recently as of this writing, so more details are sure to come.  Comment away!

Categories:  1: Featured  Chyll Will  Hot Stove  news

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1 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Feb 5, 2020 2:33 am

[0] Well said as usual, Chyll. All I can add is 'Hahahaahahahaha!!!!!'

And to think there are actual baseball writers out there who will defend such nonsense..how greedy must John Henry be? Oh wait, he's a baseball team owner..

2 RIYank   ~  Feb 5, 2020 6:12 am

Here are what I see as the main facts you need to assess the trade.

1. RSN fans love Betts.
2. They loathe Price.
3. The Sox' upper management think their... quasi-legal problems make this year pretty much a write-off.
4. Betts is still going to be a free agent in a year.

It doesn't seem like much of a return for Betts, to be sure. They still have to pay half of Price's salary, and nobody thinks Verdugo is gonna be a star. But, they only sold one year of Betts, so they couldn't expect a bonanza.

I can't decide whether Graterol is an energy drink or a dietary supplement.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 5, 2020 7:34 am

It is hard to hate a guy named Mookie even when he is beating your brains out. He was one of the few Red Sox that were easy to pull for—despite the dopey facial hair.

It will be easier to root for him now that he’s in the NL.

That said, I feel for Red Sox fans today. It’s not right. Guy that good, coming from your system, it’s not right that the Red Sox—the Red Sox!—can’t afford him.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2020 10:43 am

[1] Make no mistake, Henry wants to win (he comes from the George Steinbrenner Asylum for Marginalized Minority Owners, after all). He just doesn't want to pay the piper afterwards. The years they win are followed by several years of mediocrity, and each time someone else gets thrown under the bus; Theo, Cherington, Dombrowski... to a certain extent Cora, but that's to be expected under different circumstances.

[2] You mean this? Or perhaps this? Neither really work all that well, so you're probably on to something. Maybe if you put him in the car... >;) Good points, and Price is the biggest winner out of this deal; if anyone needed a change of scenery, it was him.

[3] The luxury tax in my mind was always a punitive control measure to keep the Yankees from outspending everyone else to get choice free agents, which most figured was the key component to their dynastic winning ways (false). It's funny that organizations that could now compete on that basis find themselves ensnared in that trap, which ironically has helped usher in the Analytics Era and the Yanks eventually becoming a dominant team year after year.

5 Boatzilla   ~  Feb 5, 2020 11:21 am

[0] I can't believe you got in Bugs Bunny, and a classic, no doubt. Beautiful. "Shut up, shuttin' up."

This sounds like a clear tank move to me. Who's next to go?

And it is very, very odd that they don't have a manager yet. WTF?

6 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Feb 5, 2020 12:42 pm

Here in the DC area, we have an expression regarding football: Any day the Cowgirls lose is a good one. I'd say the same goes for my feelings about the obnoxious "Sawks Nation" - any day they lose is a good one for the Pinstripes. (BTW, Sawks are only the 2nd most obnoxious fans, that honor belonging clearly to the Phillies.)

7 RIYank   ~  Feb 5, 2020 3:53 pm

Yeah, Price must be very, very happy to be out.

8 rbj   ~  Feb 5, 2020 4:04 pm

Oh FFS, it starts again. Paxton out 3-4 months for a microscopic lumbar discectomy, whatever that is.

9 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2020 5:29 pm

[8] Apparently this was a known issue from last season and Cashman was prepared for it. Yanks do have a pretty deep rotation, so it's annoying at best. Now we get to see the young guys strut their stuff...

10 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2020 7:39 pm

Welp if this turns out to be true, Mets fans are completely f@#$ed.

11 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Feb 5, 2020 8:05 pm

[8][9] They didn't know he needed surgery a few months ago?

12 rbj   ~  Feb 5, 2020 8:18 pm

[11] Doctors first recommended no surgery.
[10] you sell the team but want to stay in control? I feel sorry for the players

13 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2020 10:01 pm

[12] And it's not the first time they pulled a stunt like that. I think they actively compete with James Dolan, John Mara and the Johnsons over who can make the most craven, delusional, embarrassing executive decisions in NY sports (filling the vacuum left by the Ol' Highlander George I suppose)...

[11] Honestly, I don't fault him at all for that, nor do I fault the strength and conditioning staff. That's mainly on the doctors. I've had to deal with similar issues in other locales of the body and many doctors are VERY reluctant to treat them, preferring to wait and see if they go away on their own. They usually don't, they swell up over time and get worse. You basically have to beg doctors to remove them. And considering where it's located in his case, there would have been no time that would have been convenient to treat it with surgery; it may not have gotten to a point where surgery was the only choice until now. Just pure bad luck.

14 RIYank   ~  Feb 6, 2020 4:52 am

On the comparison with Highlander George: a huge difference, in my opinion, is that Steinbrenner wanted to make money with the team so he could spend it and get championships. Whereas all other owners (as far as I've noticed, anyway) are the other way around: they want to get wins and championships so they can make more money. (One of the ironies is that George's technique made many, many times more money than the money-seeking techniques!)

15 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Feb 6, 2020 11:37 am

Re: Paxon, My son had same condition; Docs prefer treatment to cutting; he eventually had the surgery and after 3 months, he was fine. He's a ski instructor.

16 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 6, 2020 2:01 pm

"Time out, count to ten" on the Mookie trade. Minny's prospect is also a health suspect; bet they substitute a different player they really didn't want to give away.

Either that or seller's remorse from Boston (they've taken a right-proper beating from all angles for it)...

17 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 6, 2020 2:11 pm

[14] I did leave that out for reiteration. George did do right in reinvesting most of his gains into the organization; he wanted a juggernaut and got one. Only the Atlanta Braves can say they were consistent contenders even nearly as long as the Yankees have been. But an argument can be made that to do so also involved "winning" the back pages, and he did that a whole lot for better or for worse.

18 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 6, 2020 4:17 pm

[10] Welp, it's true. Had to relate my condolences to known Mets fans.

19 rbj   ~  Feb 8, 2020 10:55 am

Even MLBN is joking about bringing Bobby V. back. Boston needs to do it, given how much of a screw up the team is in right now. Mookie doesn't know which coast he's going to be playing on, and their manager is . . .?

20 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 10, 2020 1:01 am

Looks like the Dodgers bailed out the Sox (again) after all. Boston gets a bigger haul and Minny sends Gratirol and some added pieces in a "separate" deal back to LA for Maeda. Meanwhile, Joc Pederson gets effed by not only losing his arbitration case (which happened while his deal was held up by the previous stalled deal), but now has to stay with the Dodgers as his deal gets trashed. Poor guy. Maybe being on a team that'll savage the league all year will help him keep his chin up...

Boston fans now have a potentially wicked dilemma: If Jeter Downs (verified to have been named after our newly-minted HoFer), one of the prospects the Dodgers are very gracefully sending to them (and taking on Gratirol instead) ever makes it to the show in a Red Sox uniform, how in the world do they keep their heads from exploding from the gratifying irony of rooting for Jeter?

21 rbj   ~  Feb 10, 2020 3:54 pm

Ha, now Sawx fans have to root for Jeter.

22 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Feb 11, 2020 12:18 pm

Adding 4 more wild card teams is an absurd money grab. This is MLB, not the NBA or NHL. To tell the truth, I'd rathr see an expansion to 32 teams, and have 8 divisions of 4, with only the division winners getting to playoffs. Plenty of interest with 8 divisions and teams fighting down the line.

On another subject, happened to watch part of an XFL game. I like the elimination of the extra point, giving teams options for 1,2, or 3 after the TD, Also like miking the replay official, and new kick off rule. Quality ain't there, though.

23 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 12, 2020 1:14 am

[22] If they can learn from the mistakes of their predecessors (like not panicking at ratings drops from one week to the next) and keep their expectations reasonably low, they might have a shot at sustained success. Hardly any way they get quality to compete with the NFL right out the gate. It's not meant to directly compete with the NFL; the real talk has been about supplementing the NFL as a possible minor league. If anything it could be an alternative to the NCAA (which has all kinds of problems). But I ain't feeling football now (and probably ever at the rate things have been going).

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver