Red Sox Rumors: What it would take to trade for Mookie Betts

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 29: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox returns to the dugout during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 29, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 29: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox returns to the dugout during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 29, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

With rumors continuing day after day that Mookie Betts will be traded, let’s examine what the Red Sox would need to acquire in a deal for the former MVP.

Mookie Betts will go down as one of the best Boston Red Sox players of all time. Despite his MVP-caliber play over the last four years, he is on the trading block and may not be manning Boston’s right field on Opening Day.

Many don’t want Betts traded and for good reason – the odds of acquiring a player with the repertoire of him is near impossible. Also, Betts could be a franchise player for the Red Sox, the new Dustin Pedroia.

He had a down year in 2019 by his standards, but he was still 35% better than the league average hitter. He won his fourth Gold Glove and third Silver Slugger. While it was a drop-off from his MVP 2018 (186 OPS+ to 135 OPS+), he was still one of the best players in baseball. If you go by baseball-reference WAR, Betts was still the best player on his team; Rafael Devers 5.3, Xander Bogaerts 5.2, and Mookie at 6.8.

So, why would you consider trading the best player on your team? Well, the answer isn’t exactly clear.

While the optimal path could be to build around Betts, there is definitely a scenario where the nucleus of prospects he brings in a trade could be built around. He has been reluctant to sign an extension, wanting to test the free agent market instead. Also, the Red Sox will aim to get under the luxury tax threshold this season and Betts is in line to make $27 million.

In a season of failure and mostly inconsistency, the Gold Glover tried his best to give the Red Sox the best chance to win – remember that baserunning play on the last day of the season?

With a 2019 Red Sox team not giving any reason to believe in them headed into 2020, perhaps trading Betts would be the correct thing to do. If the starting rotation can’t overcome its injuries, then there is no point in keeping the second-best player in baseball on the team.

Trading a former MVP isn’t ideal, but there are a few situations that the Red Sox may have to accept a deal if it comes their way.

Betts and Boston fail to reach an extension

If Betts is willing to sign an extension to stay in Boston, he isn’t getting traded. He is a generational talent that most teams would drool over to have on their team.

The Red Sox have attempted to lock Betts up – offering an 8-year, $200 million contract after the end of the 2017 season. He declined, bet on himself, and went on to win the 2018 AL MVP.

If Betts sets a price, his demand should be met with a contract extension to keep him in Boston for life. If he has his heart set on testing free agency – betting on himself like the end of the 2017 season, then options to trade him should be explored.

The team acquiring Betts has to eat his salary

The only way trading Betts makes sense for the Red Sox is if it allows them to have increased financial flexibility. Therefore, the team that looks to get Betts has to be willing to eat the $27 million he will earn in 2020.

Decreased payroll can allow for upgrades in other areas of the team, such as the back-end of the rotation, or at first base.

The only scenario where this wouldn’t apply is if the Red Sox received multiple top prospects in exchange for Betts. A trade like that would surely eliminate the Red Sox from postseason contention in 2020.

With that scenario seeming unlikely, it is certain that the team acquiring Betts would have to eat his salary.

The return would have to be better than the compensation pick

If Betts were to still be on the Red Sox when he enters free agency, and he signs with another team, the Red Sox would get a compensation pick. Because of that, if the return wouldn’t be great then Boston should hold onto him.

If the package of prospects doesn’t meet the Red Sox demands, then they should try to contend in 2020. If the Red Sox feel they don’t need Mookie after the 2020 season, then they could let him walk and receive a draft pick in 2021.

Many teams wouldn’t be interested in taking him for just one year AND paying him a lot of money. Because of that, the return for a Betts trade may not be massive and may prevent a trade from occurring between two front offices.

The Red Sox would have to feel they can replace Betts’ production

If the right fielder were sent elsewhere, it would seemingly eliminate the Red Sox from 2020 contention. However, if major-league talent was acquired, the Red Sox could produce more with a few players.

Dealing Betts certainly leaves a large hole to fill, but if the money saved by trading him gets put back into the market, the Red Sox could replace him. If $15 million of the $27 million that would have gone to Betts is instead invested into a first baseman and starting pitcher, plus the Red Sox also acquire some major league talent in return from the Mookie trade, perhaps Boston has a shot of slipping into the postseason.

That seems like a probable situation if Betts were traded this offseason. If the Red Sox traded him and went into a full rebuild with this young core still intact, the Boston fanbase and media would erupt.


Every day there is a new report about Betts and if he will or will not be traded. It is a coin-flip and I honestly have no clue what Chaim Bloom’s plan is. I trust the Red Sox front office will handle the Mookie situation accordingly.

Before trading him, the Red Sox must try and get him to ink an extension – one between the Bryce Harper and Mike Trout contracts. If he is still reluctant, Bloom can collect himself and make a decision.

Next. 5 stats Red Sox must improve in 2020. dark

This offseason could mold the future for the Red Sox – keeping Betts could be a long-term mistake, or he could be the iconic figure in Boston for generations to come.