After winning the 2018 World Series, the Boston Red Sox scuffled to an underwhelming, 84-78 record in 2019. Given the presumed “grace period” following a title, the Red Sox didn’t necessarily have to be in panic mode but, with rumblings that ownership would like to operate under the competitive balance tax threshold, Boston has reportedly agreed to a controversial move to trade star outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
BREAKING: The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox that would send star outfielder Mookie Betts and starter David Price to the Dodgers, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Deal is pending medical reviews.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 5, 2020
As noted by Jeff Passan of ESPN, left-handed starting pitcher David Price is also included in the reported deal, with 23-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo reportedly part of the return, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Both Mookie Betts and David Price would head to Los Angeles if #RedSox and #Dodgers complete their blockbuster, a source tells The Athletic. Alex Verdugo would be centerpiece for Boston. Deal could be in place tonight, per @alexspeier. Would require completion of medical reviews.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 5, 2020
Betts, who won the 2018 AL MVP award, is one of the best players in baseball, but he will enter the 2020 season in the final year of team control. In fact, Betts agreed with the Red Sox on a $27 million salary to avoid arbitration and, while he is actually a bargain at that number, the Dodgers seemingly had the appetite to pay the freight when Boston did not want to do so. Though Betts wasn’t as good in 2019 as 2018, he still posted a .295/.391/.524 slash line and nearly seven wins above replacement, even further fortifying what is already a loaded Dodgers roster.
As for Price, it is even clearer that Boston’s motivations are financial, with the 34-year-old owed nearly $100 million over the next three seasons. Price, a former Cy Young winner and five-time MLB All-Star, isn’t the same pitcher that he was in his prime but he could also help the Dodgers, albeit at a very high cost.
Verdugo is a tremendous prospect and there could be more heading to Boston. However, the Red Sox roster would be markedly worse without Betts (and Price) and it is hard to avoid that reality in evaluating the reported terms.