Avoiding an unforgivable mistake
Ownership claims they will shell out whatever it takes to keep their superstar and that better be the truth. They’ve known this day was coming for years, giving them ample time to plan for the massive contract Betts will demand.
Boston’s payroll is clogged with a few regrettable contracts but we have to assume ownership wouldn’t have signed off on those deals if they thought it would prevent them from affording Betts. The Sale extension backfired and Nathan Eovaldi‘s contract was a clear overpay. If the Red Sox let Betts leave because those ill-fated contracts left them without the necessary funds to afford him it would be an unforgivable level of incompetence. You can pin the blame on the departed Dave Dombrowski for handing out those deals but ownership still signed off on them knowing the Betts contract situation was looming.
Trading Betts essentially means punting on competing in 2020. There’s no chance of receiving fair value in return since he’ll be treated as a rental so they wouldn’t replenish the farm system enough to set them up for the future. Any leverage they have for a potential tie-breaker in free agency negotiations would be lost by allowing him to explore playing in another market.
The concept of trading Betts stems from the fear of potentially losing him, which isn’t a smart way to operate for a large market team that has proven willing to spend more than any team in baseball. It’s going to cost a massive amount to keep Betts in the long run but it will cost them more to let him slip away. Boston’s brass needs to figure out a way to carve out the necessary space in their budget – whatever it takes. Anything less would be an irresponsible mistake that they will regret.