On Tuesday, Feb. 4, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported via Twitter that the Boston Red Sox agreed to a three-team trade that would send superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return, the Red Sox would receive Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo and Pitcher Brudsar Graterol from the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers would also be sending pitcher Kenta Madea to the Twins, completing the three-team trade.
This embarrassing move is just one event in a long list of negative headlines for the Red Sox this offseason. Earlier this year, Red Sox manager Alex Cora and the club mutually agreed to part ways amidst reports of Cora’s role in the Houston Astros sign stealing debacle. The Red Sox only filled the managerial vacancy this week, as they promoted long time coaching veteran Ron Roenicke from bench coach to manager. In addition, the Red Sox are also under investigation for their own sign stealing scheme in their 2018 World Series run.
To top it all off, the Red Sox decided to deal the face of their franchise, a 27-year-old superstar two years removed from winning the American League Most Valuable Player award. Mookie Betts’ contract was set to expire at the end of the upcoming season, and the perennial all-star had expressed a desire to test the free agency market. According to multiple reports, Betts turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract offer and countered with a 12-year, $420 million contract in what Red Sox fans hoped was his expressing a desire to remain in Boston for a long time.
Instead, the Red Sox management decided it was time to cut payroll, two years removed from a championship and one year removed from locking down star shortstop Xander Bogaerts and starting pitcher Chris Sale for the foreseeable future. Suddenly, the franchise valued by Forbes at $3.1 billion decided it was time to take a financial stand. It is true that the team had paid some $12 million in penalties for exceeding the luxury tax threshold, and while that is a substantial amount of money, it is pocket change relative for the $6.6 billion Fenway Sports Group that owns the ballclub.
At the time of writing, the Betts trade has hit a snag. It appears that the Red Sox have concerns over the medical reports of Twins’ pitcher Brudsar Graterol and are reworking the deal, with or without the Twins involvement. Even with the complications, all signs point to the Sox shipping Mookie Betts to Los Angeles. Not to take away from Alex Verdugo — a fine player in his own right — but Red Sox ownership is hell bent on refusing to pay the face of their franchise while he is performing in his prime. Instead, they appear determined to trade Betts for a player with, at best, a significantly lower ceiling than his floor. One of the wealthiest sports organizations in the world is trading a once in a lifetime player in order to save what amounts to the cost of their morning coffee. It is an embarrassing move to cap off an embarrassing offseason. The 2020 season should be an interesting one for the Sox.