The Padres missed out on their bid to acquire Mookie Betts, but that doesn’t make them the loser of the negotiations. It was always tough to imagine a deal for such a high-end rental player that would truly make sense for the San Diego organization. And the latest reporting seems to bear that out.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription link) each covered the aftermath of the Betts deal from the Friars’ perspective. Each noted the impact of the Padres’ limited budgetary flexibility and the organization’s realistic assessment of its 2020 outlook. The picture that emerges is one of an organization that was ready to make a deal on certain terms but not to extend any further.
One Padres source that spoke with Acee seems to have summed things up nicely — not only capturing the team’s approach but also the reason a Betts strike felt strained. “We were not going to trade on our future,” said the unnamed employee. “We’re in for the (long haul), not one year.”
Betts was not only a rental, but one that was exceedingly unlikely to remain in San Diego for the long haul. Not only has he made clear he wishes to test the open market, but the Friars are in no position to take on a mega-contract with Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer on the books. Per Lin, the San Diego organization launched its effort to structure a deal “more than a month ago,” so it was obviously a serious and long-running bid. At worst, the team’s pursuit forced the powerhouse Dodgers to pay a bit more. But it was always going to be tough to find a package that suited the Red Sox and made sense for the Pads.
So, will the Padres front office now pivot to alternatives? Perhaps, but not necessarily in the coming weeks. Lin writes that “the expectation is that the Padres will begin the season with what they have.” While he says the team has asked about Kris Bryant, in addition to Indians stars Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger, it doesn’t seem there’s any active blockbuster structuring in the works.
We can still probably expect plenty of eyebrow-raising trade rumors involving the Padres, the nature of which will surely depend upon how the coming season unfolds. Both Acee and Lin say that a wide variety of players were discussed in the trade talks surrounding Betts, indicating that the Pads remain willing to entertain a range of scenarios.