No. 1 Trade Value
Jose Ramirez earned the top spot on the Trade Value list. The Cleveland Indians third baseman has only been marginally more valuable than Betts this year. His 4.0 average WAR over the last three years is well behind Mookie’s level, as is his 32.5 five-year WAR projection. Betts has had the better career and has a brighter forecast.
But… take a look at that contract for Ramirez. Cleveland wisely locked him up after his breakout 2016 season. They now have Ramirez under team control for a mere $43 million through 2023, including team options in the last two years of his deal.
Betts might make that much money in his next two arbitration years, let alone what it would cost to keep him for five years. You can argue that Betts is the more productive player but it would be by a slim margin. There’s no case to be made that Betts will be a better value than the bargain contract Ramirez is locked in on.
In terms of trade value, Ramirez is the clear winner. Betts could conceivably spend the rest of his career in a Red Sox uniform, alleviating any concerns about years of control. However, he’ll never be the bargain Ramirez is now. Other teams that don’t have Boston’s financial resources won’t value Betts as much if they can’t afford to keep him beyond his arbitration years. He has more value to the Red Sox than he would to most other teams.
Boston would trade Betts for Trout if they could since he’s the only player who represents a clear upgrade. They would have to consider trading him for Ramirez given that his contract is too good to pass up. The Red Sox should value Betts higher than anyone else on the list. The problem is that other teams wouldn’t. Not when factoring in the years of control. That’s why putting Betts sixth on the list is fair.