Mookie Betts is no longer a Boston Red Sox.
The team reportedly traded Betts and David Price to the LA Dodgers on Tuesday night in a deal that will add outfielder Alex Verdugo and pitcher Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox’ roster. While teammate J.D. Martinez reacted with a sad-emoji and ex-manager Alex Cora thanked Betts as a player, baseball experts are wrapping their heads around the trade and what this means for the future of the Red Sox.
Here’s what they are saying:
Joon Lee, ESPN: “John Henry signed off on Dave Dombrowski’s contracts for Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi, putting the team into its luxury tax situation, and then fired Dombrowski less than a year later. Reality: Boston put itself in a position where they felt like they had to trade Mookie Betts.”
Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic: “The Sox, even if they felt compelled to make this move rather than lose Betts for only a draft pick at the end of the season, are just going to have to wear it.
“But here’s the thing about this unfortunate separation: Betts is going to have to wear it, too. The pressure of playing with a new team as he approaches free agency. The expectations of Dodgers fans who will expect him to be the missing piece for a team trying to win its first World Series since 1988. The nonstop chatter about his next contract that will only intensify now that his motives are clear.”
Michael Baumann, The Ringer: “This trade is a disgrace for the Red Sox and for the league. I don’t understand why the owner of such a prestigious ball club—a de facto public institution—would charge his baseball operations department with ridding the team of a once-in-a-generation player when he could keep that player and continue to rake in unspendable profits. It’s such a mind-bogglingly greedy and self-defeating move that I resent being made to try to understand it.
“It’s been 100 seasons since the Red Sox sold their best player in such a transparent cash grab. If there’s any justice, they’ll have another 86 years to regret it.”
Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe: “The Red Sox just traded one of the best players in franchise history because they were unwilling to pay the hefty price for his future services….They did not think he was worthy of being the second-highest-paid player in baseball (Mike Trout will rightfully remain No. 1). They elected not to compete financially for their best player. It’s a dubious narrative when you play to a full house every night, charge the highest ticket prices in baseball, and bombard fans with promotions and sales pitches.
So you have a team with not enough pitching, no manager, a depleted farm system, and potential sanctions coming when Major League Baseball rules of cheating allegations from the 2018 season.”
Mike Axisa, CBS Sports: “Gotta feel for Red Sox, who had no choice but to trade their franchise player one year before free agency because they probably wouldn’t be able to keep him long-term.”
Steve Buckley, The Athletic: “I am here to state, in no uncertain terms, that the Red Sox will one day be haunted by this trade — even if it’s later disclosed that Betts planned all along to play it out in Boston, file for free agency and then move on.
“There’s a short-term reason and a long-term reason it’s truly bad news the Red Sox traded Betts. The short-term reason is easily explained: With Betts in the lineup and Chris Sale and Price back to full health, the 2020 Red Sox could have been pretty good. The Yankees do look stacked, but this is baseball. Things happen.”
Jon Heyman, MLB Networks: “Dodgers will try to keep Mookie Betts longterm. Talks may not start immediately but they hope this isn’t a one-year thing. They love Mookie, who was unable to come to a multiyear agreement with Boston despite its many tries.”
Chad Finn, Boston.com “At least they found him a good home. The Dodgers won 106 games last year, have a loaded roster, a deep farm system, no foolish Eovaldian financial commitments, the great Dave Roberts as their manager, and the deep desire to end a 32-year title drought.
“And now they have Mookie, the most complete player developed since . . . well, you know. It’s been awhile. What a lousy day to root for the Red Sox. Around here, we used to chant to beat LA. After Tuesday’s news that Betts is headed west, it’s a whole lot more appealing to want to be LA.”
Gabe Lacques, USA Today: “These are the Boston Red Sox. That “getting something for Betts” and “bundling him with a toxic asset” like David Price — another 2018 hero turned fungible commodity — took on far more urgency than actually retaining the superstar is depressing. The franchise is more than capable of delivering what Betts will command — somewhere between Bryce Harper’s $330 million and Trout’s $426 million.
“All we know is it’s over in Boston, where Betts and the Red Sox amplifies the game’s significant beauty.”
Eric Stephen, SB Nation: “Boston, according to this defense, simply had to trade Betts in order to get something for him. Can’t let him walk away for nothing, after all. But the argument here ignores just what the Red Sox gave up. For one, if Betts walked away as a free agent, the Red Sox would have received a first-round draft pick as compensation. The other, more compelling factor is a very good Red Sox team’s best chance to compete in 2020 is to have one of the very best players in the game on their roster. That’s not nothing.
“The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth for cash to the Yankees 100 years ago, and it’s not hyperbole to put Betts in the same category.”
Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated: “It’s bad enough when a club that just lost 100 games tries to start over. This is a championship-level collection of players that is being dismantled because its absurdly wealthy owner doesn’t feel like paying it.
“When the Red Sox traded Betts, they said two things to their fans: Maybe next year. And: Screw you.”