The deal is done. Mookie Betts is a Los Angeles Dodger.
The Red Sox officially announced a trade deal on Monday that sends Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo, catcher Connor Wong, infielder Jeter Downs. Boston also sends $48 million to the Dodgers to help subsidize the remaining $96 million on Price’s contract.
While the news has been unsettling for some Red Sox fans, baseball experts are back and forth about the deal. Some, such as Boston.com’s Chad Finn, called Chaim Bloom’s acquisition of Wong, Downs, and Verdugo “a difficult job well done.” Others are doubtful about whether the Red Sox can be contenders this season.
Here’s what they are all saying about the deal, the competitiveness of the Dodgers, and the future for Boston:
Peter Gammons, The Athletic: “I get the fans’ displeasure. John Henry and Tom Werner were listed in Forbes magazine as the third richest ownership in sports. The Red Sox have the highest ticket prices, and with the boom this ownership created in The Fens neighborhood, parking could be $100 this season.
“But this is a complicated story, one not that different from the availability of star third basemen Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado.
“This Betts deal had better be the beginning of a new rising, similar to what Brian Cashman did with the Yankees and Andrew Friedman has done with the Dodgers. There’s a lot we do not know yet. What will the players coming back in this trade become? Will the emphasis on a different development program produce some young pitchers, something the team hasn’t done since Clay Buchholz? Does resetting the luxury tax allow them to make some building trades and significant signings?
“In many ways, this Red Sox ownership is a victim of its own success. They invested in restaurants and sidewalks and street lamps, saved and redid Fenway Park, and they reached a crossroads this winter where they had to decide whether or not to reset their compass. They need to start getting draft choices higher than the 30-40 range. They need to really spend internationally. They need to find talent in other organizations, something Chaim Bloom’s Rays did exceptionally well.”
Chad Finn, Boston.com: “I’ll say this about the reworked version of this deal, compared with the original one that would have brought pitcher Brusdar Graterol from the Twins in a three-way deal: I loathe it a little less.
“I do think it is telling that the Dodgers went out of their way to make this deal work by upgrading it to include Downs. They must have considered the first version of it a total heist. Maybe they still do. I mean, they have Mookie Betts on their side now…But giving up one year of Betts (since the Red Sox weren’t going to give him what he’s worth) for five years of Verdugo (who should be pretty similar to Andrew Benintendi), one excellent prospect (Downs), and one somewhat interesting one (Wong), plus that desired financial wiggle room, is a difficult job well done by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
“He’ll probably never face a more challenging decision (or, you know, mandate) in his tenure, and I think he did the best he could with this. Trading Betts shouldn’t have been necessary.”
Pedro Moura, The Athletic: “Not only did the Dodgers complete their long-discussed trade for Mookie Betts and David Price on Sunday after protracted, complicated negotiations, but they also did it in a form that should please their fans even more than the deal’s initial formulation. They acquired Betts and Price from the Red Sox and talented right-hander Brusdar Graterol from the Twins and the 67th overall pick in the 2020 draft.
“These were short-term trades from the start. Nobody knows where Betts will sign next winter. The Dodgers sought Betts for 2020, and now they have him and Graterol, a 21-year-old who can throw 101 mph. They’re still parting with Kenta Maeda and Alex Verdugo.”
Jason Mastrodonato, Boston Herald: “Few are naive enough to think the Red Sox will compete with the Yankees, Rays, Astros and Twins with the group they’ve got now.
“The bridge year is a swell idea for a big market team that can’t afford to lose its fanbase with a last-place finish. Or so the thinking goes. But if fans around New England can eventually come to terms with losing Betts, they can understand that sometimes a 70-win season isn’t all that different from an 80-win season.
“That’s no reason to stop watching in 2020. We just have to look for new things. See how the team plays. Check in on their energy level. Look for youth to develop. And hope that they manage with one eye on the future, because 2020 doesn’t look so bright.”
Anthony Witrado, Forbes: “Just before pitchers and catchers were to report to Glendale, Arizona for the start of spring training, the Dodgers decided to cash in some of their well-stocked farm and some of their loaded major league roster to land the biggest name on the market this offseason – Mookie Betts. The deal, which also got them lefty David Price, makes the Dodgers the undisputed World Series favorite in the National League.”
Zachary Rymer, Bleacher Report: “It struck me that the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts now is like if [Jean-Luc] Picard had been dumped after season six of [The Next Generation”
Bob Nightengale, USA Today: “[The Dodgers] now have Betts, the right-handed bat they desperately needed, to make them the most powerful lineup in the National League. He’ll be a lethal force surrounded by reigning MVP Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and Max Muncy, not to mention Corey Seager, Will Smith and Gavin Lux.
“Betts has the charisma, the personality, and, oh, that sensational talent. He’s a four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner. The Red Sox saw it first-hand for the past five years, and wanted to keep Betts, but he was adamant about testing the free-agent market. Now it will be up to the Dodgers to keep him.”
Matt Martell, Sports Illustrated: “What’s worse than your team firing its manager because of his role in orchestrating another team’s sign-stealing scandal? Trading away a home-grown superstar – the second best player in baseball–after days of public negotiations and months of speculation to save money.
“By unloading the $27 million contract of one of the best players in franchise history, one of the richest organizations in professional sports is choosing not to compete in 2020. That’s not good for the game. As Stephanie Apstein wrote last week when news of the trade first broke, “When the Red Sox traded Betts, they said two things to their fans: Maybe next year. And: Screw you.”
happy spring training pic.twitter.com/MhFJTWMzB4
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) February 11, 2020
Darren Hartwell, NBC Sports Boston: “The Boston Red Sox are getting worse in the short term by unloading Mookie Betts and David Price on the Los Angeles Dodgers. But are they better positioned for future success?
“The answer to that question rides on the three players Boston reportedly will acquire in return: outfielder Alex Verdugo, infield prospect Jeter Downs and catching prospect Connor Wong.”