With rumors about Mookie Betts’s future swirling and Chris Sale’s uncertain health and effectiveness, what’s the biggest question facing the Red Sox?
Mookie Betts has had one of the best four-year stretches in Red Sox memory from 2016 to 2019. If he were to be traded, that would define the entire 2019-2020 offseason. Betts could save the Red Sox lots of payroll space while bringing in a top prospect or two.
In Chris Sale‘s first two Red Sox seasons, he was dominant. He wasn’t completely healthy in either of the two seasons – gassed at the end of the 2017 season and barely healthy enough to pitch in the 2018 postseason. He was plagued by more injuries, diminished velocity, and reduced effectiveness throughout the totality of the 2019 season.
Both are insanely important to Boston’s 2020 hunt to get back into the postseason. The question with Betts is if he will be manning the Red Sox outfield come 2020 and if Sale can find his form and be a part of Cy Young consideration as in years past.
As we are all sick of hearing, Betts’ name is on the trading block. From his standards, he had a poor 2019 season, but by everyone else’s he excelled. He hit 35 percent better than league average while once again winning a Gold Glove.
He is approaching his final year of arbitration and per MLB Trade Rumors, he is set to bring in an income of $27 million dollars. With the Red Sox having problems financially, cutting Betts would do wonders as a first step towards shedding payroll.
He would not bring in a fleet of top prospects but would bring in a few medium-ranked farm players or one top prospect. Unlike if Boston shipped away a starter, the club acquiring Mookie would eat ALL of his 2020 salary and would give some higher rated players in return.
If one of the starters were traded, specifically David Price or Nathan Eovaldi, they would not bring much in return. Combined, they both pitched a full season, and Eovaldi wasn’t effective when he pitched, while Price didn’t go deep into many games, albeit being more effective.
Betts could have a lasting impact on the future of the Red Sox. Getting rid of his costs could allow the Red Sox to be a winning team for years to come. He could also bring in a top prospect that could replace himself a few years down the road. However, Sale could be more important to the return to the postseason in 2020.
The lefty was one of the multitudes of 2019 Red Sox weaknesses. He didn’t pitch past mid-August nearly requiring Tommy John surgery, and was rendered ineffective and very inconsistent throughout the season. An ERA in the low-2’s from the beginning of May to the end of June, only by season’s close to exit with an ERA of 4.40. He had inconsistent velocity, low’s of 89, only to peak at 96 in an April start.
His more advanced metrics suggest he was unlucky, he had a 3.29 FIP while Justin Verlander‘s, the Cy Young award winner, was 3.27. He still showed domination throughout 2019, but with his new 5-year, $145 million dollar contract extension kicking in this upcoming year, he has to prove that he can be a reliable and dominant force on the mound.
The Conductor will have to pitch more innings in 2020 and lower his ERA. Quite frankly, I don’t care that his advanced statistics showed he was pretty good in the 2019 season because, at the end of the day, all that matters is results. He was winless in April, and at the end of the season he had the second-most losses in his career and he only made 25 starts, fewest in his career.
More from Red Sox News
- Giants’ desperation post-Carlos Correa debacle highlights Red Sox’ lack of urgency
- Dave Dombrowski reunites with former Red Sox ace on Phillies
- 10 grievances against the Boston Red Sox in honor of Seinfeld holiday Festivus
- Red Sox risk repeating rookie mistake with Eric Hosmer release
- Former MLB All-Star slams Red Sox for ’embarrassing’ treatment of Rafael Devers
His ERA of 4.40 was 0.99 higher than any other season in his career and all we can hope is that this is the worst we will see of the lefty. I have always hoped Sale would revamp his mechanics in order to take less stress off of his shoulder. Now, with injuries plaguing these past two seasons, he may work to fix his mechanics to ensure longer, more durable (and after 2019, effective) seasons.
Overall, trading Betts would likely be more important in a different team’s 2020 season. Unless if an angel comes down and relieves Sale of Boston’s roster, he will be with the Red Sox in 2020.
For that reason, Sale will more determine the Red Sox 2020 season. Betts will shape the future of Boston, either they will regret not trading him and he will depart after this upcoming year. Or, he will get signed to an extension and be the face of Boston for the next decade. He will have an impact post-2020.
However, Sale can come back strong in 2020 and stabilize a shaky rotation. When the lefty is strong at the top of the rotation, he is the spark that gets the Red Sox going. Also, an aspect that could be overlooked is that if Boston finds its way back to the postseason, they will likely be playing in a do-or-die Wild Card game. He has the ability then to push Boston to the ALDS roster.
For all of those reasons, Sale will be the most-important short-term, Mookie having a longer effect long-term. I hope Sale can put together a healthy season in 2020 in order to prevent a repeat of the dreadful 2019.