The Red Sox have reportedly talked to the Dodgers about a Mookie Betts trade but it would take a massive haul that Los Angeles is unlikely to surrender.
The Mookie Betts trade rumors are swirling once again. While a deal is far from imminent, social media was buzzing with trade talk following a report that the Los Angeles Dodgers have an interest in acquiring the former MVP.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Dodgers have engaged in exploratory trade talks with the Red Sox about Betts.
It’s no surprise that the Dodgers would check in with Boston to see if there’s any chance they would trade their superstar outfielder. Los Angeles is in win-now mode and Betts is the type of talent who could put them over the top. After striking out on their top targets in free agency, the Dodgers could pivot toward the trade market. They are one of the few teams with the financial flexibility to afford the $28 million Betts is projected to earn in arbitration and they have a stockpile of young players and prospects to offer.
Trading Betts should be enough to get the Red Sox to their goal of dipping under the luxury tax and ensure they get something for him before he potentially leaves as a free agent next year.
The Dodgers appear to match up better than anyone as a potential trade partner but despite all these factors lining up, a blockbuster trade remains a long shot.
If the Red Sox trade Betts it means they are essentially punting on the 2020 season in order to save money. They aren’t a playoff team, let alone a World Series contender, without their best player.
It also means they have no intention of shelling out the massive contract it will take to sign Betts a year from now. Mookie has made it clear that he’ll go to the highest bidder but we have to believe that he’d give the Red Sox the benefit of a tie-breaker if they are the only organization he’s played for. That advantage shifts to Los Angeles if he’s traded to the Dodgers. Trading him for salary relief now expecting that you’ll bring him back next winter is a dangerous game.
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Boston’s brass is open-minded when it comes to the various paths they can take to financial freedom. They haven’t ruled out the idea of trading Betts but their preference is clearly to unload one of their expensive starting pitchers instead. It would take a massive haul to entice them to move Betts. The Dodgers are capable of making such an offer but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are willing.
The list of assets in the Dodgers system starts with infielder Gavin Lux, the No. 2 overall prospect in MLB.com’s rankings. Right-handed pitcher Dustin May (No. 32) would be appealing for a Red Sox organization starved for pitching prospects. Catcher Will Smith has emerged as a coveted asset following an impressive rookie campaign. Any offer for Betts needs to be headlined by at least one of those options and it might take two of them to convince Boston to pull the trigger.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers aren’t eager to trade their best assets for an expensive player with only one guaranteed year of control. Nightengale’s report mentions their reluctance to part with Lux has led them to offer Corey Seager instead. Seager is a fine player, a two-time All-Star who bounced back from a year lost to injury to post 4.0 WAR last season. He’s still not nearly enough to acquire Betts if none of the top Dodgers prospects are included.
Los Angeles is capable of putting together a suitable package for Betts. Dustin May along with either Lux or Smith plus a major league caliber outfielder such as Joc Pederson would be an offer the Red Sox would have a hard time saying no to.
It doesn’t appear the Dodgers are willing to give up that much though. If their initial counter to teams asking for Lux was to suggest Seager instead, it shows how far apart these sides are on a reasonable deal. This could change if the Dodgers run out of other options to upgrade their roster this offseason – perhaps they get desperate enough to throw a king’s ransom at Boston. There’s been no indication that the Dodgers are prepared to do that though. This latest report sounds like the Dodgers doing their due diligence on a player they covet rather than a sign the Red Sox are on the verge of trading Betts.