A little peak under the hood: I send out the questions for these roundtables on Monday to give people the whole week to find a few minutes to send in their answers. So, when the question is on a topical matter like the one we’ll get to in a minute, I get to spend the whole week waiting for the team to do something to make it all moot. It’s not fun! We squeezed in before anything happened this week, though. I’m assuming if you’re reading this you know I’m talking about the Mookie Betts trade rumors, because they are at the center of this week’s question: “What does the minimum deal you’d take from the Padres or Dodgers look like that would entice you to trade Betts.”
In a perfect world, of course, the Red Sox have already signed Mookie Betts to a rich, long-term deal. If Mookie is going to be traded in the last few days before packing his bags for Fort Myers, the Dodgers and Padres need to pay. This is not a normal trade. Betts is arguably the second best player in baseball behind only Mike Trout. In his down year Betts was still a 5-win player with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
If the Dodgers roll into Boston the Red Sox should ask for Gavin Lux. End of story. If it’s the Padres, put in a request for Mackenzie Gore. These two players are the respective top prospects for each team according to MLB.com. Every fan of these teams would cry foul at this point given Betts will make nearly $28 million dollars in 2020 but even though the Red Sox are making a “salary dump” trade that multi-million dollar sum is the market price for his talent and the prospect price if for the privilege of seeing Betts in a new uniform. Should David Price price be included or Jackie Bradley Jr. then the receiving team is taking on salary totals greater than the worth of the player to Boston. Then see about lowering the status of the prospects included.
Note for the Padres deals rumored: taking on Wil Myers is an additional cost to be balanced out by prospect value.
I’m prepared to look like a complete moron here, but I think there’s a good enough chance that Mookie is traded before this post goes live, and everything I say looks really silly, so here goes. Worth noting, and I’ll repeat this a couple of times: I do not want to trade Mookie. I am fairly certain I’m going to be the writer who asks for the most, because I don’t want to even entertain the thought of a realistic trade. What is fair and what I want are two different things.
I do believe there are two real players in the market, the Dodgers and Padres. That’s it. The Dodgers are interested because they continue to lose World Series every year. Maybe this is finally the move to put them over the top. The Padres are interested because of some reason I don’t quite get. They know he’s a rental, right? Maybe they think they can extend him? Going to be real mad if he’s traded, and day one there’s an extension in place that we were too cheap to pay...
When it comes to what I’d want, I feel like I’m on the high end. That’s largely because I’m #TeamGiveMookieABlankCheck, and think even the 12/420 that Lou Merloni reports is what Betts is asking for is acceptable. We aren’t getting another player like Mookie coming up any time soon. The time is now to strike on that. From the Padres, I bare minimum want Luis Patiño involved, as well as one of Luis Campusano/Taylor Trammell (as I view Patiño as their #3 guy, and Trammell/Campusano as their #4/5 guy in system). Then I would require one of the following three, depending on which of the previous two was given up. Either Gabriel Arias (who is a 100% must if we take Campusano instead of Trammell) or one of Jake Cronenworth/Ronald Bolanos if they choose to give up Trammell. I do not want any of their MLB pieces besides Myers who is coming back whether I want him or not (the answer is I don’t, but I think he actually has a chance of rebounding in Boston). Is this way too much? Yes. Is it what it would take for me to be ok with moving Mookie? Also yes.
From the Dodgers, the price is similarly heavy. To make it very similar to the Padres offer (IE - take back an expensive major leaguer to boost the prospect return), I’ll take AJ Pollock as their stand-in, and would require Dustin May (for context, I have him and Patiño both valued around the top 25-35 prospects in baseball, and don’t think there’s a huge enough difference in value for me to be willing to go down to the next tier), Keibert Ruiz (who I’m not at all high on, but we need something else), and one of the following three: Dennis Santana, Mitchell White, or DJ Peters. Again, I think this is a deal the Dodgers should probably not make! But if they want Mookie, it’s the price I personally would set.
All told, I’m thoroughly against trading Mookie unless it’s for a pretty big return. Anything less, and I’d rather trust that we can be competitive in 2020 and win out.
Padres - Wil Myers (and us paying a lot of his contract), Patino, one of Trammell/Campusano, one of Arias/Cronenworth/Bolanos
Dodgers - AJ Pollock (and his contract being paid by us), May, Ruiz, and one of Santana/White/Peters
That said, I fully expect the actual return to be far less and for most of us to hate it.
I need to see prospects coming back from either the Dodgers or the Padres in any deal that includes Mookie Betts and they need to be good ones. I wrote recently about a few of the prospects the Dodgers have to offer and why I’d like to see at least one of them in a deal for Betts, in case you’re into that sort of thing. Frankly, the Red Sox farm system is a little dull right now and it could use some serious replenishing. The Padres and Dodgers both have five prospects ranked in the Top 100, according to MLB.com, while the Red Sox have just one in Triston Cases (No. 77).
I get that Betts is only a rental, given the fact that he’ll hit free agency next year, and it’s probably not helping that news came out this week that Betts wants $400+ million next year. But we are still talking about former MVP Mookie Betts here. And I’m sorry, but if the Padres are also trying to tack on four more years of that god awful Wil Myers contract, a couple decent prospects need to be used to sweeten that deal. Manny Machado was traded to the Dodgers in July 2018 and the Orioles still got five prospects for him, four of which immediately made Baltimore’s Top 30 prospect list. It’s tough enough to imagine the Red Sox outfield without Mookie Betts in 2020, so please make this a little easier for all of us, Chaim Bloom. I’m really counting on you.
I refuse to capitulate and will not dignify this with an answer. There’s certainly a return that would make sense from a value perspective (Padre and Dodger fans would not like what my answer would be) but this is a team with a young core designed to win now. Young, competitive teams do not trade their superstars barring extreme makeup concerns. If this franchise were acting in the best interests of the sport and of its fans, reports about trade discussions centering around Mookie wouldn’t exist because he never would’ve been made available. You never hang the phone up on a trade offer, but you can make the ask so high that a team backs off. If the Sox somehow snagged Mackenzie Gore, Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Patiño, and Chris Paddack from the Padres, I’d be pleasantly surprised, but I’d still be broken up because Mookie never should’ve been on the block to begin with and any trade he moves in reinforces the false narrative that he had to be traded.
There is no deal I would be sufficiently pleased with. The entire idea of trading Betts is nonsensical. What is the point of building a roster if not to have players like Betts? He’s not just a good player, he’s one of the best in the league. Betts is still in the early stages of his prime, is just one season removed from winning an MVP award and is already among the top 15 players in Red Sox history in wins above replacement. Unless the Padres and Dodgers can pull off a feat of pure sorcery and make this a three-team deal where the Red Sox get Mike Trout, the Red Sox would essentially be agreeing to a major downgrade no matter what they get in return. That makes it a bad baseball move.
On the financial side, sure, Betts will be a free agent next season and that means the Red Sox would potentially get nothing if he decides to walk. If only there was some way to avoid such a fate? Oh, wait. I know. How about paying one of the best players in baseball like one of the best players in baseball?
If I even have to entertain the thought of trading Betts, who, and I can’t stress this enough, is one of the best players in baseball, I’d start the conversation beyond the limit of what we’ve currently seen rumored. Ideally, that would mean someone like Chris Paddack with the Padres or Walker Buehler with the Dodgers, but more realistically, a package loaded with prospects is what we’ll see. If we’re entertaining that route, a deal with the Padres would have to include the likes of MacKenzie Gore and Taylor Trammell and maybe a proven big league contributor early in his career like Joey Lucchesi, who has been floated by some. Something similar working in Dustin May, Gavin Lux or the like from the Dodgers would be as close to acceptable as I could get on that side.
Maybe it seems crazy to ask the Padres or the Dodgers for that much — especially someone like Paddack or Buehler — but it is already crazy that those teams are asking for Betts and even more crazy that the Red Sox are listening.
With repeated trade reports regarding Mookie Betts, it’s looking more and more like he will not be with the Red Sox for the 2020 season. If I were Chaim Bloom, the MINIMUM I would require in a Mookie trade is three top 10 prospects from a club like the Dodgers or Padres, who have deeper farm systems. However, a big factor in this trade is whether David Price will be included in an effort to make a salary dump. If Price is included, I really liked the reported deal from the Dodgers that included Tony Gonsolin, Alex Verdugo, and Keibert Ruiz. But if the Sox decide to hold onto Price for the remainder of his contract, maybe you could upgrade Gonsolin to a better arm like Dustin May. All in all, while I would like to see the Red Sox pursue a 2020 World Series, the biggest win for me would be to pull off a big Dodgers trade (like the one mentioned above) and still end up signing Mookie when he hits free agency in the 2021 offseason.
The first thing the Red Sox need, at a minimum, is a bold-enough faced prospect name to pin some hopes on — and probably two. The Padres deal potentially features Luis Campusano, the reigning High-A California League co-MVP catching prospect, and as the base of a Betts deal he represents something of the bare-bones return level. The Dodgers have a distinct advantage in this category because they have more prospects at this level — Tier B of future stars, not Tier A. Keibert Ruiz and Jeter Downs fit the bill coming from L.A. quite nicely, and while the Sox might prefer Campusano and whatever else restocks a soon-to-be-sanctioned MLB farm system, this is a question for me, and I want more than one young boldfaced name to get this moving. The fans are going to remember every last morsel that was swapped, and we might as well make it easy for them. Except for the part one of them is named Jeter. That’s bad.
Consider me on the side that does not really want Mookie Betts traded in any scenario. Shocking, I know. I have said this before, but the only way a trade is defensible to me is if A) you have some sort of knowledge that he will not sign long-term with the Red Sox under any circumstances and B) you don’t think you can contend in 2020. There is no public evidence A is true, and while B is more subjective I am having a hard time seeing the logic behind believing that. As such, there’s really no reason to actually pull the trigger on a deal when you have a winning ball club. Can they be good without Betts? Sure. But it’s going to be a lot harder! So, as others have said, if either team blows you away and offers up like Lux or Gore or Tatis or whatever else, then yeah you can change my mind. That’s not going to happen, though, and for good enough reason. But this isn’t a situation where you have to trade him, and if these teams want a talent you wait a generation to find, they’re going to have to pay. If they don’t want to pay in talent, they can wait a year and bid their dollars.