The Mookie Betts saga hasn’t yet reached a resolution. That could change shortly. The Red Sox may make a decision on Betts “within the next few days,” reports Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. Boston has continued to discuss “multiple” trade scenarios with both the Dodgers and Padres. Those talks have now reached “a relatively advanced stage,” Speier reports. Earlier this week, Speier categorized the Betts sweepstakes as “a two-team race” between Los Angeles and San Diego. There’s no indication anyone beyond the two NL West rivals is still involved.
That’s not to say a Betts trade imminently coming to fruition is a guarantee. The Red Sox haven’t asked either L.A. or San Diego for “a last and best offer,” a source from one of the rival clubs told Speier. That suggests there remains some possibility of talks fizzling out or going in an unexpected direction; at the very least, it doesn’t seem Boston plans to set a firm deadline on a Betts trade, at least not immediately.
Reading between the lines, though, it feels like a Betts trade is now more likely than ever. Speier reported earlier in the week it was “likelier than not” the superstar would wind up on the move, and today’s news only strengthens that notion. If a deal does get across the finish line, what could the Red Sox expect in return for the former AL MVP?
Any deal with the Padres would need to include Wil Myers to help offset payroll, Speier reiterates. (Betts will make $27MM in 2020 in the final season before he reaches free agency). As Speier observes, San Diego’s package of young talent would therefore have to top that of the Dodgers to compensate for the inclusion of some of Myers’ contract. The 29-year-old is due $61MM over the next three seasons. Coming off a season in which he hit just .239/.321/.418, Myers certainly wouldn’t approach that figure if he were on the open market now. San Diego would pay down some of Myers’ deal in the event of a trade, Speier notes; even still, the Red Sox would surely demand more valuable young talent with Myers included than they otherwise would have.
Among that young talent would figure to be an MLB-ready outfielder and starting pitcher, as well as some prospect help. San Diego has shown a willingness to discuss outfielders Manuel Margot (a former Red Sox prospect) and Josh Naylor, Speier reports, although any outfielders except Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham could be on the table. Starting pitchers Cal Quantrill and Joey Lucchesi continue to garner some consideration, while any prospect package would likely be led by catcher Luis Campusano (Baseball America’s #79 overall prospect), Speier adds. Not all five players would be involved in a Betts trade, of course, and there are no doubt others who have come up in talks. The names under discussion give some early indication of what to expect if a Betts deal involving San Diego is completed, though.
From the Dodgers’ perspective, meanwhile, Alex Verdugo could be on the table, Speier reports. The 23-year-old former top prospect hit .294/.342/.475 (114 wRC+) in 377 plate appearances last season and comes with five years of team control, making him an eminently valuable trade piece. Other scenarios with the Dodgers still seem to be up in the air; the parties continue to discuss a package deal involving David Price and his three-year, $96MM contract, Speier notes, as well as deals that would send Betts alone to L.A.
Notably, the Athletic’s Peter Gammons noted this afternoon (via Twitter) that the Dodgers appear to be the frontrunner, with three sources characterizing Betts to L.A. as “inevitable.” Verdugo could indeed be on the table in such a scenario, Gammons hears; he further adds middle infield prospect Jeter Downs and pitcher Caleb Ferguson as names to monitor.
With spring training approaching, one of this offseason’s greatest dramas appears to be nearing its conclusion. Wherever Betts plays next season, he figures to again offer outstanding production. The 27-year-old has a .299/.389/.535 slash (140 wRC+) since the start of 2017. With elite baserunning and defense factored in, only Mike Trout has bested Mookie’s 22.4 fWAR over that time.