Late Tuesday night, the MLB got hit with an atomic shockwave. The Los Angeles Dodgers traded for former MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price in a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox.
In return, the Dodgers shipped a package off to Beantown that includes future star Alex Verdugo. The Minnesota Twins were the third team in the transaction, and picked up former LA starter Kenta Maeda in exchange for sending flame throwing pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Sox.
While it is not a total shock to see Betts out of Boston since trade rumors have swirled for the past couple of weeks, it is hard to believe they are comfortable letting one of the three to five best players in the league leave town in his prime simply because they did not want to pony up the dough. The 2018 MVP, just 27 years old, had a “down” season hitting .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs, 80 RBI, and a league leading 135 runs scored. In an effort to buy time, the Red Sox settled on a one year $27 million-dollar deal for 2020 to avoid arbitration. The team had been entertaining offers for Betts, who is most likely looking to cash in like the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, and his over $400 million-dollar contract.
Of course, the financial end is the motive for allowing one of the only true five tool players in baseball to skip town. Price being included in the blockbuster was obvious as they tried to part with the remaining three years and $96 million dollars remaining on his contract. Moving Betts and Price will certainly contribute to Boston maneuvering below the $208 million-dollar luxury tax threshold.
The Red Sox absolutely had a World Series contender with their superstar right fielder, but now have clearly taken a step back. While they still possess a formidable and capable lineup, it is not the same animal that propelled them to a 2018 World Series title over the Dodgers (ironically). Paying number 50 roughly $35 million annually is a steep price. One could look at it and understand why Boston elected to avoid paying the number. However, a title contender with about a three-year window to win more rings is worth biting the bullet and shelling out the money.
On the flip side, LA may finally have done enough to get over the hump after failing to secure the elusive World Series trophy the past few seasons despite having arguably the most talented roster in baseball. LA had been the front runner to land Betts since the beginning even though the San Diego Padres were hot on their heels. The Dodgers are like the Buffalo Bills in the 90’s though; despite all the talent, they just cannot secure the big prize.
Watching free agents like Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon sign elsewhere, it feels like the boys in blue needed a jolt like this. A hilariously insane lineup could be just the thing to finally get them over the hump. Players like Betts, reigning MVP Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Justin Turner etc. will make any opposing pitcher quiver with fear.
The games still need to be played, but there is no question LA should be at the forefront of title contentions come October.
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