Mookie Betts trade drama has been one of the prevailing stories of the offseason. In addition to the Red Sox’s recent discussions with the Padres, Boston is also in touch with the Dodgers on a potential Betts deal, reports Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. While there’s still no certainty that Boston will eventually pull the trigger, Speier characterizes the club’s willingness to move the 2018 AL MVP as “serious.”
While a Padres’ deal would seemingly require Boston to take on Wil Myers’ contract as a means of acquiring prospects and reducing their luxury tax hit, Dodgers’ talks would seem to be more straightforward. As Speier notes, L.A. could part with one of their many MLB outfielders to facilitate a trade for Betts, whom they justifiably view as “a rare talent.” Such a scenario could be appealing to Boston, who no doubt hopes to compete in 2020.
Interestingly, Speier adds that the Dodgers could look to explore a package deal involving Betts and a high-priced starting pitcher like David Price. That would help Boston get under the $208MM luxury tax threshold, although Sox owner John Henry recently downplayed the importance of doing so. At the moment, the Sox project for a $236.8MM luxury number, per Roster Resource. Removing Betts’ $27MM and Price’s $31MM respective CBT hits from the books would ameliorate that. That, of course, would certainly make Boston’s roster worse in the short-term, even if they received MLB-ready pieces in any return.
A third NL West team is also at least lurking on the periphery of the Betts’ market. The Diamondbacks, where former Red Sox executives Mike Hazen and Amiel Sawdaye are leading the front office, have interest in the superstar outfielder, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. Arizona doesn’t have the resources or farm system of the Dodgers or Padres, perhaps making them a longshot. Still, any team figures to have a strong enough system to reel in Betts, who will hit free agency next offseason. Meanwhile, the Snakes should have a bit of financial flexibility, with a projected season-opening payroll of $114MM that trails their season-ending outlay of $125MM. That alone wouldn’t be enough to make room for Betts’ $27MM salary, although perhaps ownership could bump payroll beyond typical spending levels if it meant landing a unique talent.
If anything is clear from the varying reports, it’s that the situation remains fluid. 70% of MLBTR readers forecasted this week that Betts would open the season in Boston. That’s obviously still a strong possibility. Nothing prevents the Red Sox from holding Betts and reevaluating their situation at the trade deadline; future suitors wouldn’t get the benefit of being able to tag Betts with a qualifying offer if they acquire him in-season (as they would if a deal is swung preseason), but there’d no doubt still be demand for one of the sport’s best players in July.