Boston Red Sox got absolutely fleeced in Mookie Betts trade

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 28: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox hits a double in the bottom of the sixth inning of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on April 28, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 28: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox hits a double in the bottom of the sixth inning of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on April 28, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

In one fell swoop, the Red Sox traded their best player and a solid starting pitcher for very little in return. While they freed up payroll, this is the type of move that can haunt a franchise for years.

Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: I’m a diehard Red Sox fan. I always have been and I always will be. Nothing this team has ever done or will do in the future will change that. I’m also more than old enough to not get too emotionally attached to certain players because I understood long ago that at the end of the day Major League Baseball is a business and big league ballplayers are, like the rest of us, just trying to make as much money as they can.

With all of that said and out of the way, in the wake of the Mookie Betts trade last night, I’ll come right out and say it: the Red Sox got utterly fleeced by the Dodgers. Completely, shamefully robbed blind. Knocked down and their lunch money stolen. Pantsed in front of the entire school at a pep rally embarrassed. Need I continue with more metaphors? They sent Mookie and David Price to the Dodgers for Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol (via the Twins). That’s it. Oh, and they’re also paying half of the $96 million left on Price’s contract.

That’s an atrocious return for a former MVP in his prime and a solid starting pitcher. Instead of the haul of prospects and major league-ready player most fans and reporters thought the Red Sox would get, they received a promising albeit less talented outfielder with off-field issues and back problems and a pitching prospect who has already had Tommy John surgery and whose ceiling has been predicted as a solid number three starter. That’s it. That’s all the Red Sox got.

The Red Sox traded a generational talent, the best homegrown player they’ve developed in decades, one who has proven he has the physical and mental toughness to play in Boston, for two prospects. Even worse is paying half of David Price‘s remaining salary to unload him. In fact, getting rid of Price is the only good thing about this deal, although that’s more for clubhouse reasons as the already suspect Boston starting rotation just got a lot lighter on talent.

Sitting back and looking at this some more, the Red Sox already went into negotiations the last two weeks with very little leverage. Every other team in the league knew the Sox were trying to shed payroll. They knew Mookie was due to make $27 million this year and they knew he’s only under contract for one more year before he hits free agency. Boston was never going to get a king’s ransom for Betts, but at the same time they should have and could have expected a solid return in any trade.

In recent weeks when it seemed it was narrowed down solely to the Dodgers and Padres, both teams were reportedly offering a major league-ready player in addition to some prospects of various worth. That would’ve been a weak return, but given that the Red Sox weren’t dealing from a position of strength, it would have at least been palatable. But Verdugo and Graterol and nothing else? That’s criminal.

More from Red Sox News

Where the Red Sox went even more wrong is in insisting that Price be part of the deal. In doing so, they ended up minimizing Betts’ worth in any trade discussion while still having to pay half of Price’s salary just to get the Dodgers to bite. They were so desperate to cut payroll and unload Price that they agreed to LA’s demand to eat that money. In essence, this deal ended up being a Price salary dump with Mookie thrown in the sweeten the pot. Let that sink in.

The national sports media are already trying to spin this as a great deal since it offers the Red Sox financial relief and instantly transforms them from being $23 million over the tax threshold to $20 million under, but that’s not what gets fans excited or interested for the upcoming season. Yes, they needed to do something with Mookie if he wasn’t going to sign an extension (and all indications showed that he wasn’t), but to get swindled in the trade while saving money won’t sit well with the fanbase.

(To be fair, the local sports media is rightfully crushing the Red Sox, and even in John Henry’s own paper!)

We can endlessly debate what the Sox should have done (I would’ve kept Mookie until the trade deadline and then tried to strong arm a desperate team like the Dodgers who think they’re one piece away from winning it all), but at the end of the day John Henry, Chaim Bloom, and the Red Sox took the easy way out and traded Mookie for pennies on the dollar. Yes, it saves the team money, frees up the payroll, and probably benefits them in the long run.

Next. Four reasons to be optimistic about 2020 season. dark

The last time I checked, though, the owner’s bottom line and financial flexibility don’t excite or interest fans; winning teams and talented, likable players do. The Red Sox will move on and probably be fine in five years, but in a lousy offseason where the team was already struggling to maintain fan interest heading into spring training, the Great Dodgers Robbery probably killed the 2020 season for good, and before it even started.