Mookie Betts, David Price join long history of Red Sox turned Dodgers

The two jewel franchises have shared countless players through the years, including plenty of Hall-caliber talent.

David Price Mookie Betts Dodgers
David Price and Mookie Betts basked in the Chavez Ravine sunshine Wednesday during their Los Angeles introduction at Dodger Stadium. –Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

 COMMENTARY

I had ‘The Talk’ with my son on Wednesday morning. There’s no formal guidebook you’re given as a parent on these things, just memories of your own experiences and the loose idea that, “You’ll know the right time when you know.”

I found something in his drawer before he left for school. Hadn’t expected it to happen so soon, but I knew it was time.

Frankly, I don’t remember my similar chat, lost in the haze of the past, countless heartbreaks ago. I just knew I wanted him to hear it from me, and that was the only time I could be sure he would. His mom could’ve told him, too, of course, but this stuff is my department.

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Some might think a 3-year-old is way too young to handle such a heavy topic, but the kid surprised me with just how much he knew. (They grow up so fast!) Not that he wasn’t absolutely taken aback by what I had to say. Horrified doesn’t feel too strong, honestly. Just immediately grimaced, wordless. On the verge of tears, he collapsed into me for one of those “make me feel better” hugs that kids give.

I didn’t think he’d really understand all the nuances, but not only did he get it, he had a question.

“Daddy? Is J.D. Martinez still on the Red Sox?”

Martinez and Mookie Betts are the two Red Sox players he knows, though he only has the T-shirt jersey of the latter, now folded atop his dresser and out of school rotation. Safe to say, we were both relieved the answer about Martinez was yes, though I decided to leave the intricacies of contractual opt-outs until he’s 4.

Mookie Betts Kid
Noah Couture enjoyed his first trip to Fenway last August, but not as much as the pre- and post-game T rides. —Jon Couture

For some of us, Wednesday’s images from Dodger Stadium of Mookie Betts and David Price in their new blue and white channeled those childhood memories of the first time you saw your favorite player in someone else’s colors, be it Roger Clemens the Blue Jay, Wade Boggs the Yankee, Fred Lynn the California Angel or Bobby Orr the Chicago Blackhawk. Wherever on the spectrum you feel about the trade, from mildly perturbed to bloodlessly angry, there was a feeling of deja vu to it all.

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A Red Sox, off to Los Angeles to ply their trade for the Dodgers. Heck knows we’ve seen that movie a couple times before. For goodness sake, what did the two new Dodgers do immediately after their press chats were over? Donned hard hats and got a tour of the ongoing renovations of Dodger Stadium with Janet Marie Smith, now the Dodgers senior vice president of planning and development after — among myriad things — helping revitalize Fenway Park in the 2000s and designing Polar Park, the home of the Worcester Red Sox scheduled to open for their inaugural 2021 season.

How often have we watched Red Sox pack their things and don those beautiful, best-in-the-game uniforms? So often, I built a team out of them.

Inspired by Dave D’Onofrio’s Red Sox 21st-century All-Traded Team, I built a team from players and personnel who’ve gone from the Red Sox to the Dodgers. It’s been so common, I didn’t even have to include all the talent that’s come the other direction, be it Pedro and Ramon Martinez, Adrian Beltre, Hideo Nomo, David Ross, Alex Cora, J.D. Drew, Takashi Saito, Eric Gagne …

Didn’t include Carl Crawford either. I think both would rather he’s left in the collective dustbin.

Position players

1. Mookie Betts, CF — The 2018 AL MVP’s numbers figure to take a bit of a hit playing a full season at Dodger Stadium, the seventh-most pitcher friendly park in the majors last season and one of the ten toughest to collect a double. (Fenway is notoriously doubles-friendly.) Still, the Washington Post declared his addition to the LA lineup “almost unfair,” and it’s hard to disagree.

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2. Pee Wee Reese, SS — The Hall of Famer played his entire 16-year MLB career with the Dodgers franchise, hanging it up after their 1958 Los Angeles debut, but he was originally with the Red Sox, and a priority. Tom Yawkey reportedly bought his minor-league club, the Louisville Colonels, in 1938 largely for Reese’s rights. Alas, fellow Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Cronin was still All-Star caliber in the late 1930s, and more importantly, the player-manager. He demanded the Sox get rid of Reese, which they did midway through the 1939 season. Brooklyn had him in the majors the following year; Cronin, meanwhile, didn’t play a full season after 1941.

3. Reggie Smith, RF — An ascendant star on the Impossible Dream Red Sox, finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1967, Smith cracked 21 homers a season and made a pair of All-Star teams in seven full seasons in Boston. Racial tensions of the time, however, left him at “constant war with the home fans at Fenway Park,” according to Howard Bryant’s 2002 book Shut Out. The Sox traded Smith to St. Louis in 1973, but his best years came in Los Angeles, finishing fourth in MVP voting in both 1977 and 1978 for back-to-back National League pennant winners.

4. Manny Ramirez, LF — The original LA bailout of the Red Sox. Ramirez — an all-timer who’d worn out his welcome despite seven-plus seasons of exemplary production — was an instant sensation in Los Angeles when they acquired him at the 2008 trade deadline, hitting .396 in 53 games, then .520 in a playoff run to the NLCS. Mannywood, however, didn’t have much of a shelf life. He was suspended 50 games for performance-enhancing drug use in 2009, and the White Sox plucked him off the waiver wire in late August 2010 after he’d basically missed another two months.

5. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B — Gonzalez’s Boston tenure, much like Betts’s “down” 2019, rarely gets its proper respect. In 2011, he led the American League with 213 hits, and produced a .338/.410/.548 slash line. He was less productive in 2012, but still hitting .300 when Los Angeles, largely to get him, consummated the megatrade that shook the Red Sox to their core. He was good, not great, the next four years, with an .809 OPS and 24 homers a season, and played only 54 more MLB games after the Dodgers traded him in December 2017.

6. Nomar Garciaparra, 3B — Garciaparra primarily played first base during his three seasons as a Dodger from 2006–08, but he did still play a smattering of games on the left side of the infield and have his last great MLB season in their colors — an .872 OPS and 53 extra-base hits in 122 games in 2006. It was a far cry from his 8.5 seasons in Boston, where he batted .323 and was on a Hall of Fame track, but a needed redemption after his lost year and a half with the Cubs.

7. Mark Loretta, 2B — Every lineup gets a little thin at the bottom, and ours is no different. Loretta was an All-Star with the Red Sox in 2006, smacking 33 doubles and a walk-off homer on Patriots Day, but his departure for Houston as a free agent was hardly headline news. He played two seasons there, then finished his career as a utility guy with the 2009 Dodgers, striking out as a pinch hitter in their NLCS elimination loss to Philadelphia.

8. Johnny Peacock, C — You are forgiven for your, “Who?” Peacock caught parts of eight seasons for the Red Sox from 1937-44, perhaps most notable for an incident in 1943 when, during a doubleheader in Washington, he got into a mid-game fistfight with the Senators’ Ellis Clary. (The two later admitted to taunting the other.) Peacock, the classic solid catcher with meager offensive numbers, ended up in Philadelphia, then in Brooklyn at the 1945 trade deadline. When players summoned to fight in World War II returned, his career was over.

Bench: Bill Mueller (3B – BOS 2003-05, LAD 2006), Doug Mientkiewicz (1B – BOS 2004, LAD 2009), Jody Reed (2B – BOS 1987-92, LAD 1993), Hanley Ramirez (SS – BOS 2005, LAD 2012-14, BOS 2015-18), Rickey Henderson (OF – BOS 2002, LAD 2003), Heinie Manush (OF – BOS 1936, Brooklyn 1937-38).

Note: The last two don’t really belong, but they’re Hall of Famers and they technically qualify. We need all the talent we can get.

Pitching staff

We could really use Gagne, Saito, and Pedro — who was almost exclusively a reliever with the Dodgers in 1992-93 — to build a dedicated bullpen, but rules are rules, so consider this an All-Star/September callup staff. Nine arms for nine innings.

Josh Beckett — Always had a soft spot for the brash Texan, whose 2007 season was one of the best in franchise history if you include that otherworldly October — 4-0, 1.20 ERA in 30 innings. (He was also great in 2011.) His best days were behind him when he landed at Chavez Ravine, but he did throw a no-hitter for them in 2014.

David Price — Been thinking about Beckett and his arrival in Boston while mulling Price’s role as the forgotten man in this Betts trade. Mike Lowell was that man in the Red Sox acquisition of Beckett from the Marlins in 2005, and took it as a slight that helped motivate his better-than-expected Red Sox tenure. I could see Price be similar driven by the doubters, if only he can stay healthy.

Rich Hill — Milton’s own curveball machine saved his professional career with the Red Sox in 2015, perhaps former Sox staffer Brian Bannister’s greatest success story. That eventually led to a $48 million free-agent contract in 2016, though health limited him to fewer than 60 innings in its final season last year.

Derek Lowe — Not the same as Hill, but another guy for whom a small sample helped score him a payday from LA. Lowe’s stellar 2004 postseason, capping eight years as a durable starter and closer with the Red Sox, led to $36 million from the Dodgers in 2005. He was their Opening Day starter three years running, their NLCS Game 1 starter in 2008, then got $60 million from Atlanta that winter.

David Wells — The rubber-armed lefty was 41 when he signed with the Red Sox in December 2004, and the Babe Ruth devotee is the answer to a trivia question: Who started Boston’s first game after its cathartic world championship? Wells won 15 games with the ’05 Sox, but was traded to San Diego in August 2006 and landed with the 2007 Dodgers for the final seven starts of a 21-season career.

Aaron Sele — You think the 2005 Red Sox Opening Day starter is obscure? Who remembers the 1995 one, the first game after the to-date-latest MLB labor strife? It was Sele, Boston’s first-round pick in 1991 who ended up making 108 starts from 1993–97. He was traded to Texas in a six-player deal, netting Damon Buford and Jim Leyritz, and actually hung around the majors until 2007. His final years included 28 appearances for the 2006 Dodgers.

Paul Quantrill — After 93 largely forgettable appearances to begin his MLB career with the Red Sox from 1992–94, Quantrill bounced through six more teams, along the way becoming one of the better middle relievers in the game. He led the majors in appearances four years running, the middle two with the 2002 and 2003 Dodgers, for whom he threw 154 innings at a 2.22 ERA and held hitters to a .620 OPS.

John Tudor — Tudor came through the Boston system and was a solid starter from 1979–83, having his one great season in 1985 with the pennant-winning Cardinals, finishing a distant second to Dwight Gooden for the Cy Young. He made a pair of starts for the 1988 Dodgers during their playoff run, taking no decisions in both.

Bobby Ojeda — Much like Tudor, Ojeda’s best year came for neither of these teams, going 18-5 and starting a pair of wins in the World Series for the 1986 Mets, including Game 6. More salt in the wound from that series, given he’d been barely .500 with the Red Sox from 1980–85 and traded for, among others, Calvin Schiraldi. Ojeda ended up with the Dodgers after five seasons in Queens, making 60 starts for a pair of also-rans.

Staff

Dave Roberts — Four years, four division titles, and two pennants in Los Angeles for Roberts, not that any of those are much solace to a fanbase clamoring for its first championship since 1988. Roberts only appeared in 48 games with the Red Sox in 2004, including the three in the playoffs, but I’m sure deep down he thinks its a little cute they consider that a long title drought.

Grady Little — The first spring that Little — allowed to depart the Red Sox after winning 188 games in 2002-03 because, you know was back in the majors managing the Dodgers, I covered spring training for The Standard-Times in New Bedford. When Boston made the trip across Florida to Vero Beach in March 2006, I did too, and I asked Little what he missed most about managing in the major leagues. He didn’t miss a beat: “Mostly, I missed the pay.” Always liked that. He lasted two years in LA as well, resigning right before it was clear the team was replacing him with Joe Torre.

Glenn Hoffman — Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman’s older brother spent the majority of his nine-year career with the Red Sox as a utility infielder, then transitioned into coaching in the Dodgers system. When LA fired its manager and GM in the middle of the 1998 season, that landed Hoffman — the franchise’s manager at Triple A — 88 games in the big chair. He spent seven seasons as a third-base coach after that, then interviewed for the Red Sox opening that went to Terry Francona.

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