News is buzzing about David Price being traded, but the loss of Mookie Betts is looming larger and larger. The Red Sox would be wise to get something for Betts rather than lose him in free agency in a year. They're clearing bridging it this year if they are trading Price after losing Porcello. That's two fifths of the rotation out the door, and Martin Perez is essentially a poor man's Porcello. The breadcrumbs are many for Mookie's departure, leading to a certain trade partner trying to go for it in 2019.
Breadcrumb Number 1
Let's start small. Yes, a lot of players go home in the offseason. Other than Pedroia, who wants to spend the offseason in cold and grey Massachusetts? But Mookie is often seen out and about in and around Tennesee. Here he is recently at a Memphis vs Lakers game with LeBron James recently:
I might not like LeBron James, but I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to meet an NBA great. I can't hold that against Mookie. And the Grizzlies were loving it:
But why is the Red Sox official Twitter account annoyed? Could it be they'd rather see Mookie showing some love to Boston in the offseason? Could it be that the Red Sox want to support the Celtics, who own a Memphis draft pick and want the Grizzlies to lose? Mookie supporting the Grizzlies and posing with a Laker is not a good look for Boston at the very least.
Maybe Red Sox Twitter was exacerbated because mere days before Mookie went to the Grizzlies game, he was pilfering the New England Revolution's roster for Nashville SC:
In general, having current or former players announce draft picks is done by players associated with that team. How fun is it to see current and former Patriots players announcing draft choices every year at the NFL draft? But there's Mookie supporting the Nashville team, and thoroughly enjoying taking a player from the Revolution by the looks of it:
If Mookie was invested in the Boston area shouldn't he be supporting the New England Revolution, or at the very least not be so public in his support of a different team? Sure, pretty much all players support hometown teams no matter where they play. But most aren't so public about it.
Mookie has built a Mansion in Franklin. No, not Franklin Massachusetts. Franklin Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. The linked story mentions that Mookie bought the property in late 2017. That is interesting, as that's around the time Mookie was rejecting the Red Sox rather large contract offer, and in fact not even negotiating with the Red Sox. From within Joel Sherman's article from March 19th of this year:
Betts rejected an eight-year, $200 million extension proposal following the 2017 season, according to a source. Two other sources said the Red Sox have made several attempts at a long-term deal with Betts, including this past offseason, with the Betts camp not even making a counter-proposal. The All-Star has instead been comfortable with the risks of going a year at a time in exchange for the reward that could come with patience
So while he was rejecting the Red Sox, he was pouring at least $4.5 Million into his new mansion, on top of the $1.65 Million price tag for the land, just outside Nashville.
People are freaking out about Tom Brady moving to Connecticut. But Mookie didn't just buy a mansion, he built one. Do people, other than land developers, build their houses to only live there half the time or less? The people I know who build are building their dream home. This is Mookie's.
So Mookie is putting down roots and rejecting the Red Sox. Is there an MLB team close to his Franklin home? Is it a team looking to compete and willing to spend money? The answer is yes.
It is four hours by car, or one hour by plane (Franklin does have an airport where a private plane could be on call) from Franklin to Atlanta, GA. The Braves are trying to resign Josh Donaldson, who made $23 Million last year. But the Dodgers, who lost out on all the big name free agents at the Winter Meetings and have money to spend, loom as a player for Donaldson's services. The Nationals want to defend their title and just lost their third basemen. Donaldson is in demand. Yes, Donaldson is a third baseman, while Mookie is an outfielder. But who looks better: Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, or Mookie Betts? It's not even close. The Braves could always find another third baseman if they upgrade their outfield by leaps and bounds.
The Braves have been building something for the past few years. They have one of the great young stars in the game, Ronald Acuna Jr. They just spent $18 Million on Cole Hamels, and are rumored to be in on Madison Bumgarner on top of that:
Why? Because they recently moved into a new stadium and haven't moved beyond the Divisonal round of the playoffs since 2001. They have tickets to sell, and they have a bunch of money thanks to cheap contracts for Acuna and others.
If they're willing to spend, say, $25 Million for Donaldson, or close to that for Bumgarner, they can certainly spend on Mookie. Just as with Donaldson, the Dodgers are also in on Bumgarner. The Braves may be left standing when the music stops on both those players. They are armed with a fantastic farm system that was ranked third as recently as last year, and a lot of cheap young talent on the major league roster. We detailed what the Braves could offer here.
Mookie Betts has shown no desire to sit down and negotiate with the Red Sox, other than at the arbitration table. He's a free agent after the 2020 season and has shown a ton of love towards Nashville. The Braves are in win now mode. They are the only team that could feel good about signing Mookie to a long term deal thanks to their talent and location close to his dream home. Yes, the Braves could just wait a year. But they've been waiting and waiting and appear to be gearing up right now. The chances of a Mookie trade to Atlanta got better when the Braves lost in the playoffs this year. They get even greater if Donaldson and others spurn them. A ton of money was spent on free agents, the price for Betts goes up every year. If Atlanta thinks signing Betts for $35 or $36 Million a year is expensive now, just wait what it will be in a year. $38 Million? $40 Million? Gerrit Cole just broke the all time record contract for a pitcher by a mile. What is Mookie Betts except a better every day player version of Cole?
Mookie will always loved here in Boston, but he's on his way out the door. Now, the trading deadline, or after the 2020 season, he's gone. For the long term success of the Red Sox, it's time for Chaim Bloom to make a deal.
Featured Image via Masslive.com