Red Sox Rumors: Trading Mookie Betts would be a disastrous mistake
Other factors driving Betts rumors
The case for trading Betts isn’t entirely about money. It’s partially driven by an irrational fear that his refusal to sign an early extension is proof that he plans to bolt for greener pastures when he hits free agency after the 2020 season. Therefore, the Red Sox must trade him for a boatload of prospects to restock their farm system before he leaves them.
First of all, turning down an extension doesn’t mean Betts wants to leave. He’s said on several occasions that he enjoys playing in Boston. Betts is intent on waiting for free agency because he believes it’s the best way to maximize his earnings. He’s willing to bet on himself staying healthy and productive until the opportunity arrives for the market to dictate what he’s worth. It’s a risk that not all players are comfortable taking but it theoretically would be the path to the biggest payday by allowing other teams to raise the price in a bidding war. If the Red Sox are willing to pay up, Betts would welcome the chance to stay in Boston.
As for restocking their barren farm system, the Red Sox would need to temper expectations regarding the package they could get in return. Any team dealing for Betts knows he’s a rental who won’t sign an extension. They would also be responsible for paying him $30+ million next season. There aren’t many teams willing to pay that salary and give up prime prospects, limiting the trade market.
If the Red Sox keep Betts for another year and he ends up leaving in free agency, they’ll surely tender a qualifying offer, allowing them to recoup a draft pick when he signs with another team. They shouldn’t consider trading him now unless they get a prospect in return deemed more valuable than the draft pick.