If the Price is right
The other significant factor in favor of the Dodgers is their offer doesn’t include taking back a bad contract. Shedding the $27 million Betts is owed while replacing him with pre-arbitration salaries gets the Red Sox within striking distance of the luxury tax threshold. Absorbing even a portion of the Myers contract from San Diego puts them further from that goal while clogging future payroll.
The trump card that could put the Dodgers well over the top is the scenario mentioned in The Athletic’s report in which David Price joins Betts in Los Angeles. McCullough’s article suggests the Dodgers lack incentive to take on the $96 million remaining on Price’s deal even if it lands them Betts since they are already a strong contender without adding another superstar.
Rival executives say they would not value Price at more than $15 million per season. Perhaps the Dodgers consider including Price in the deal if the Red Sox cover approximately half his contract. Subtracting more than $40 million in payroll easily gets Boston out of tax territory and saves them $30 million over the next two seasons.
He’s overpaid and has some injury red flags but a healthy Price is still a very good pitcher. The Dodgers know this since Price arguably should have been the World Series MVP when he helped lead the Red Sox to a victory over them in 2018. He’s a clear upgrade in their rotation and helps put the Dodgers over the top.
If the Dodgers can be talked into including one more prospect, such as infielder Jeter Downs (No. 44), in exchange for packaging Betts and Price together, this trade is a slam dunk for the Red Sox. They unload a ton of salary, avoid the tax and add a handful of young, talented players.
The Red Sox would be taking a clear step back in 2020 and potentially spoiling any chance they have of signing Betts to a long-term deal next winter. This may be a necessity at this point. The Red Sox are a rudderless ship heading for spring training without a manager. They have plenty of talent but too many question marks to be considered more than a fringe contender entering the season. Their farm system lacks star talent that is anywhere near major league ready.
Trading Betts would hurt. Giving him away in a salary dump, even one that rid’s them of Price’s contract, would be shameful. It should take an impressive haul to pry Betts out of Boston but the Dodgers have the assets to get it done without surrendering their best prospects or weakening their chances to contend in 2020.