The Red Sox achieved their goal of getting under the luxury tax threshold on Tuesday night. They did it by trading superstar and former MVP Mookie Betts and Cy Young winner David Price to the Dodger as part of a three-team deal. In exchange for two of their top five players, Boston received young outfielder Alex Verdugo and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol. In addition, the Red Sox will be paying half, yes half, of the remaining salary on Price’s $96 million contract.
The theory behind the Betts trade is that it was not practical for the Red Sox to pay the outfielder his asking price of $400+ million over 12 years and instead needed to get something in return for him before he walked in free agency next year. While there is some credence to that theory, getting such a paltry return for Betts and Price is a massive underachievement for Boston.
Verdugo, 23, has the makings of a solid MLB player. He hit .294 last year with 12 homers and 44 RBIs. Given his age, he will likely continue to increase his numbers and become a fixture in the Red Sox’ lineup. Graterol has a ton of talent and throws over 100 mph, but he has battled injury concerns and projects more as a reliever in his future career.
Chaim Bloom has all the makings of a good general manager and in Tampa Bay he constructed the Chris Archer trade for a strong return. However, it is hard to believe that with multiple teams bidding the Red Sox could not have found a way to get more major league talent or another prospect. In addition, because of the Dodgers financial resources, Betts is not a traditional rental. The Dodgers can match any offer he gets and ensure that he stays in Los Angeles for the long term.
This deal says even more about the previous regime under Dave Dombrowski and ownership. The 2018 Red Sox were a phenomenal team that won a championship and this writer will always appreciate Dombrowski for that. However, some of the contracts handed out after that title, specifically to injury prone ace Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi, hamstrung the Red Sox into feeling they had no other choice but to trade Betts and Price. We can only hope that Betts does not get the same smear job that Terry Francona and other high profile Red Sox received after leaving town.
This trade is not a complete disaster. I can understand the reasoning for wanting to trade Betts. However, the return and the fact that other bad contracts effectively forced this move, makes this a bad day for Red Sox Nation. The team got worse yesterday, there is no way around that. 2020 will be a bridge year and 2021 could be a swinging point between contending again or a rebuild.
Bloom has come in to a horrible situation. His manager was fired before Bloom’s first season due to a scandal that Bloom never could have foresaw and he arrived in Boston with the expectation that one of his best players would probably need to be traded. He deserves more time and some benefit of the doubt, but this trade will stick with him and the Red Sox until they win another championship.