Let’s predict a possible Boston Red Sox trade that would send right fielder Mookie Betts to the Houston Astros this offseason.
The Red Sox and Astros are both in intriguing spots this offseason. Boston needs to cut payroll while Houston needs to win another World Series in possibly one of the last few years with its dominant core. With that in mind, here’s a challenge trade that could meet the needs of both organizations.
Red Sox acquire: OF George Springer
Astros acquire: OF Mookie Betts
This trade is crazy because both teams would trade away franchise-changing players. Both right fielders have one more year of arbitration before entering free agency after the 2020 season. Mookie Betts is set to make close to $28 million and George Springer will make about $21 million in arbitration, both per MLB Trade Rumors.
This trade would help the Red Sox because it would reduce their payroll for the 2020 season. While they would lose the best player on their roster in Mookie, they would acquire Springer who makes $6 million less than Betts and plays a similar, possibly better game. He finished sixth in 2019 MVP voting, while Mookie was eighth.
This would also be a first step to getting the payroll under the luxury tax which has dictated the Red Sox offseason up to this point. With the money saved, external additions can be made in order to strengthen other parts of the team.
Why this makes sense for the Astros
The Astros are a win-now team, that is very obvious. While they would like to offer Springer a contract to spend the rest of his career in Texas, they may not be able to afford his services. Their payroll is starting to catch up to them as they are having to pay stars such as Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander, Michael Brantley, and others.
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With Springer, Brantley, and Ryan Pressly set to hit the free-agent market after 2020 and Verlander and Zack Greinke free agents after 2021, the Astros last chance to win with this core could be 2020. They wasted their two years with Gerrit Cole as he left Houston having never won a World Series. By acquiring Betts, it shows that they will sell out to win in 2020.
At his best, Mookie is a better player than Springer because he plays superior defense. He had a 10.5-WAR season in 2018 while playing less than 140 games. He is an impact player that definitely elevates the Astros chance to win in 2020.
While this trade would raise their payroll for 2020, it could be the last time the Astros keep their core together. If they really want to go all-in next season, acquiring Betts could push them over the hump and lead them to their second World Series in four years.
If losing out on Springer for the rest of his career means winning a World Series with one year of Betts, I think the Astros would accept that transaction.
This trade addresses both clubs’ needs by helping both the short and long-term. The Red Sox lose a little production in having Springer instead of Betts, but they save payroll for the 2020 season which could help them get under the luxury tax.
The Astros may be entering their final years as a dominant team in the American League and acquiring the second or third best player in baseball is one way to try and win a World Series. This trade would be scary for both teams as both sides could end up losing franchise players for the rest of their careers.