The Boston Red Sox will not be making any trades today
February 10 had become a date that Boston Red Sox fans were beginning to dread. This date marks the anniversary of two highly-criticized trades that shipped away fan favorite players one year apart. With Major League Baseball still entrenched in a lockout, we’re at least ensured that the streak will not be extending to a third year.
Two years ago, the Red Sox completed a franchise-altering blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, sending Mookie Betts and David Price west in exchange for a package headlined by Alex Verdugo plus prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.
The trade was widely viewed as a shameful salary dump by the Red Sox, who were unwilling to offer their former MVP the massive contract extension he desired. Rather than risk losing him for nothing when he hit free agency after the season, they managed to extract some value out of Betts while shedding half of Price’s contract to escape luxury tax territory.
No matter of logic was going to convince a furious fan base that trading a generational talent in the prime of his career was the right move. Perhaps one day the trade will be viewed differently if Betts hits the decline phase of his career prematurely, proving the Red Sox were wise not to gamble on such a lengthy contract. Only time will tell. In the meantime, the Betts trade remains a sore spot for Red Sox Nation.
One year from the date that the Betts deal became official, Chaim Bloom pulled the trigger on another trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals. The three-team trade sent Franchy Cordero and Josh Winckowski to the Red Sox, along with three players to be named later. Those unknown lottery tickets were later revealed to be Freddy Valdez, Grant Gambrell and Luis De La Rosa.
It didn’t send quite as many shockwaves throughout the Boston area as the Betts deal did but trading Benintendi was met with plenty of backlash. Despite injuries and declining speed spoiling his final two seasons in a Red Sox uniform, Benny was a popular player who fans weren’t eager to part with. On the heels of the Betts trade, this was another salary-saving move that didn’t provide any immediate upgrade to the major league roster.
As it turned out, shedding Benintendi’s salary helped the Red Sox afford Kike Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe. Benny had a decent bounce-back year in Kansas City but he wasn’t going to be an everyday player in Boston’s revamped outfield. Even if none of the prospects they acquired ever pan out, trading Benny was worthwhile since it carved out room for two players who were pivotal to the Red Sox earning a Wild Card spot and making a run to the ALCS.
The lockout has frozen transactions across the league indefinitely, preventing Bloom from continuing his streak of shocking trades on the anniversary of his most controversial moves.
It doesn’t rule out another deal getting done once the lockout is lifted but the Red Sox are in a much different position than they were in each of the previous two winters. Their payroll is in much better shape, thanks in large part to those blockbuster deals. Following last year’s deep postseason run, Boston is in better position to buy rather than sell.
While the free agent market will still be explored, upgrades can potentially be found from a willing trade partner. We’ve seen Bloom trade away fan favorites in moves made with an eye on the future. Before this offseason ends, we may see him start a new streak of completing a trade to acquire an upgrade that gets Red Sox fans excited.