We thought the massive contract of Gerrit Cole, or Anthony Rendon going to the Angels were big stories. While we've known about Alex Cora's dark side for a while, we didn't know the penalties would rock the baseball world. With Cora fired and penalties for the Sox still to come things seem pretty bleak. But a signing yesterday could change things quickly in Red Sox Nation. Josh Donaldson signed a four year deal with the Twins yesterday.
There are many reasons why the Red Sox will likely trade Mookie Betts. The problem thus far is finding a willing partner. One of the teams that lost out on Donaldson is his former employer the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are interesting as a destination for Mookie because they are close to his Nashville, TN home. This means Betts is more likely to sign a long term deal with them. But there's a lot more to it than that.
According to spotrac, the Braves currently sit at $156,986 Million (for competitive tax purposes) for 2020. Their best player, MVP candidate Ronald Acuna Jr., is on a team friendly eight year $100 Million contract.
At those numbers the Braves have more than enough to add Mookie's $27 Million one year deal and remain around $184 Million in payroll. Imagine Acuna and Mookie in the same outfield for the next seven to eight years.
Braves Youth & Farm System
Atlanta has a plethora of young talent to trade. They were ranked as the third best system in baseball in the spring. And recently they ranked the same, despite graduating players like Austin Riley this year. Ian Anderson is their top prospect, a starting pitcher who had 172 strikeouts over 135.2 innings in AA and AAA this year. In the majors they have young starters like Mike Soroka and Touki Toussaint. Soroka is the gem, having gone 13-4 this year with a 2.60 ERA for the Braves. Toussaint is less so, with a 5.62 ERA in the majors this year. But in 2018 he had a 2.38 ERA with 163 strikeouts over 136.1 innings in AA and AAA.
Would the Braves be willing to trade one of these three as the basis for a deal? The Red Sox would love to add young starting pitching. That's only the tip of the iceberg in a system this deep. There are few teams with the money and the talent to get this done like the Braves. But what, other than losing Donaldson, would cause them to pull the trigger?
The Braves have not won the World Series since 1995. They won the NL East and finished with the second best record in the National League last year, yet fizzled in the postseason yet again. Their NL East rivals the Nationals won the World Series last year. The fanbase is clamoring for a winner. Story after story is calling for a power bat for the Braves.
The Braves just bumped their attendance over 32,000 a game for the first time in a while last year. SunTrust Park seats over 41,000. Does Nick Castellanos sell tickets? How about Marcell Ozuna? Have either of them sniffed the MVP award? The answer is no. There is no one on the market better to boost ticket sales and bring dreams of getting over the playoff hump like Mookie Betts.
A package around one of their top three young pitchers, or Austin Riley and something more, might break loose. If so the Red Sox should jump at it.
Featured Image via NBCSports.com