January 24: Talks between San Diego and Boston regarding Betts are “ongoing,” Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports. The Padres have proposed scenarios that would send Myers, controllable MLB assets and prospects to the Red Sox, though like Acee, he suggests the Padres’ very best prospects haven’t been included in talks. Speier adds that the Padres have been willing to “clear the bar” that was set by last year’s Paul Goldschmidt trade between Arizona and St. Louis, wherein the Cardinals sent catcher Carson Kelly, righty Luke Weaver, infield prospect Andy Young and a Competitive Balance draft pick to Arizona.
January 23, 7:34pm: The main stumbling block in trade talks is how much of Myers’ contract the Red Sox would be covering, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, as the Padres want Boston’s obligation “to be much closer to the full value of the contract.” The prospects reportedly being discussed in the trade aren’t any of San Diego’s “top five minor leaguers,” which would mean the likes of Gore or Patino aren’t involved.
6:29pm: The Padres and Red Sox have had talks about a deal that would send former AL MVP Mookie Betts to San Diego, The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reports (subscription required). Boston’s side of the trade would consist of Wil Myers and “a significant amount of prospect talent,” as per the most recent discussion between the two clubs.
No trade seems close, as “multiple people familiar with the discussions characterized an agreement as unlikely….yet both sides appear to have legitimate interest.” If nothing else, the news indicates that the Red Sox haven’t closed the door on moving Betts prior to Opening Day, despite chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s multiple statements about his belief that Betts will remain in Boston. That said, trade talks doesn’t necessarily contradict Bloom’s comments; naturally he would be open to hearing what other teams have to say, even if he ultimately thinks Betts won’t be dealt since no club would meet the very high asking price he has put on Betts’ services.
That asking price doesn’t appear to be part of these talks with the Padres, which could be why Lin’s sources don’t think a trade will be finalized. As per ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, the Red Sox were looking to acquire “two high-end prospects” for a trade package that included Betts and David Price, with the trade partner covering “most or all” of the $96MM owed to Price through the 2022 season. Price’s name surfaced in talks with San Diego involving Myers earlier this offseason, though the Padres “seemingly have limited interest in such a scenario,” Lin writes.
Myers is owed $61MM over the next three seasons, and has been an inconsistent performer since signing that six-year, $83MM extension prior to the 2017 campaign. Myers has hit .244/.323/.444 with 59 homers over 1482 PA the last three seasons, good for only a modest 103 wRC+ and 105 OPS+. Myers has generated only 3.0 fWAR over that span due to this middling offensive performance and an increasing lack of defensive value — the Padres’ signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer left Myers bouncing around third base and all three outfield spots without much good glovework at any spot.
In Boston, Myers would probably at least get his old first base job back, as the Sox could deploy youngster Michael Chavis mostly as a second baseman. (Myers could also take over Betts’ spot in right field on days when Chavis is at first base.) There are some past ties between Bloom and Myers, as Bloom was in Tampa Bay’s front office when the Rays acquired Myers from the Royals prior to the 2013 season — and, it should be noted, also when the Rays dealt Myers to San Diego in the 2014-15 offseason.
Unless the Sox think a move to Fenway Park would unlock Myers’ bat in a major fashion, taking on Myers’ deal as part of a Betts trade would appear to be something of a curious move for a Boston club that seems to have made an offseason priority (despite the claims of owner John Henry) of reducing or altogether avoiding further luxury tax payments in 2020 after two years of overages. Since a contract’s luxury tax hit is calculated by average annual value, Myers’ $13.833 AAV is far less than the $27MM Betts is owed in 2020, which is also Betts’ final year under contract before hitting free agency.
Despite Betts’ lack of remaining contractual control and his stated desire to test free agency rather than sign an extension, moving a superstar like Betts for, essentially salary relief, isn’t the type of move that would go over well with Boston fans. One would figure the Sox are asking for the very best young talents from the Padres’ farm system, though reports from earlier this winter indicated that San Diego wasn’t willing to put the likes of Chris Paddack, MacKenzie Gore, and Luis Patino on the table in trade talks.
Other prospects could be under consideration in these Betts talks, as the Padres aren’t hurting for blue chip talent in their deep pipeline. From the Padres’ perspective, even parting ways with a Gore or Patino might be seen as acceptable if it meant swapping Myers for one of the sport’s best players in Betts. The Padres would be much better positioned to contend in 2020 with Betts in their lineup, and even if Betts did leave after the 2020 season, San Diego would stand to recoup a draft pick via the qualifying offer (thus partially replenishing their minor league ranks) and they’d still have the benefit of having Myers’ deal off of the books.