On Tuesday night, the Red Sox pulled the trigger on a massive trade.
It’s official, Mookie Betts is no longer a member of the Boston Red Sox. There is no need for speculation – it has happened. Frankly, it’s a tough pill to swallow for a radical, passionate fanbase as they now sit and watch a generational talent head out west in pursuit of another World Series title with the Dodgers.
At the end of the day, it is a business. It’s money, it’s payroll, it’s planning for the future.
A chaotic offseason has some semblance of clarity, as Chaim Bloom pulled the trigger on one of the biggest moves he’ll make as a GM – while only in his first season with the Red Sox. While the team will be without their cornerstone piece, it is still a very talented roster that has the ability to compete for a postseason berth. Let’s take a look at the return, as well as what may have shaped the deal.
Selling David Price and Mookie Betts
There’s no doubt that moving on from two pieces that helped the Red Sox capture a World Series in 2018, was no easy task. The rationale on moving Price and Betts is simply financial.
Mookie Betts is going to test the free agent market. Regardless of the source, newspaper, online journal, blog, or whatever material one reads, the consensus is that Betts is going to test the market. Mookie Betts is going to receive a contract in the Mike Trout territory of $400 million. At this point, Chaim Bloom and ownership, decided that he had out-priced himself in Boston. Whether one agrees with that point, or not, is a different story; however dealing Betts allowed the Red Sox to hand pick their return rather than leaving it up to a mere compensatory pick.
David Price, on the other hand, was a salary dump on a contract that Dave Dombrowski overpaid on. At the time, Price was one of baseball’s premier arms and the salary was largely justified by many; however the money never matched up with the production. A player isn’t – and shouldn’t – be responsible for the money they’re given, but the reality is that Price never performed up to the expectations that the fans had for him. In fairness, he was a hero in the 2018 World Series run. He erased the playoff demons that haunted him and spun a gem in the clinching game for the Red Sox. Now, two seasons later, he’ll return to that very mound in Chavez Ravine as the starting pitcher for the home team.
Acquiring Alex Verdugo
It had been floated for multiple weeks now, but the former Los Angeles Dodger was the primary piece in this trade. He’s under team control until 2025, was ranked as a top 20 prospect in all of baseball last season, and possesses all of the traits and tools to be able to handle Fenway Park. In 2019, Verdugo hit .294 and collected 12 HR’s and 44 RBI’s. He was on track for a very formidable season before falling prey to an oblique injury that sidelined him into the postseason.
I will miss you Alex Verdugo pic.twitter.com/K156B55DwC— Jack (@MidwestDodger_) February 5, 2020
He’s a very solid piece that will become a mainstay within the Red Sox outfield. He is slated to take over the right field position, but if Bloom continues to deal players he could end up in center field. Verdugo has already handled the limelight in Los Angeles and making the trip to Boston should be very little adjustment, aside from requiring a winter jacket. Acquiring Alex Verdugo should be considered a win for the Boston Red Sox.
Acquiring Brusdar Graterol
The Red Sox have been in desperate need of bolstering their young core of starting pitchers. They’ve moved Darwinzon Hernandez, Mike Shawaryn, and Tanner Houck to the bullpen last season and largely thinned any MLB ready depth. In this trade, the Sox were able to acquire the 53rd overall prospect per MLB Pipeline and a pitcher with the opportunity to grow. Graterol throws hard…very, very hard and possesses the makeup to develop into an elite arm for the Sox.
101 mph sinker pic.twitter.com/VjAn1Of44a— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) February 5, 2020
He possesses a fastball that sits 96-98 with the potential for triple digits. He made his MLB debut with the Minnesota Twins last season and posted a 4.66 ERA over 10 appearances. A very small sample size caused inflated numbers, but Graterol has swing and miss stuff that will play in the starting rotation or the bullpen. In the Red Sox case, it would be extremely wise to develop him as a starter whether that be in Pawtucket or in Boston. He instantly becomes the blue chip arm that this organization needs and his development should be monitored very closely this season.
Grade the Trade:
It’s difficult any time you part with a generational talent, but Chaim Bloom did what was asked of him. As Rob Bradford of WEEI mentioned, don’t pin this on the newly minted GM. He was asked to get below the luxury tax threshold and accomplished that within months, as well as acquired young, controllable talent for the organization. Yes, the inclusion of David Price limited the return and there will be complaints that the Red Sox could’ve and should’ve got more in a deal for Betts. It was a calculated deal, but one that will sting for a long time.
In terms of ownership, and the organization as a whole, it was a complete failure. To lack the foresight to allow it to get to a point where it feels like you have to deal Mookie Betts is in fact a failure. Boston is a premier destination and trading away a once-in-a-generation player because of money is a disaster. Chaim Bloom did his job, but those above him did not and allowed last night to transpire.