As the Betts trade finally goes through, we see a major shift in the Red Sox organization. We do not yet know how this impacts Boston’s future, all we know is that this will impact our franchise for years to come. As expected with such a momentous trade, there appear to be massive pros and cons impacts resulting from the move.
Con: Losing Mookie
Of course, what may be the biggest impact from the trade is the loss of superstar outfielder Mookie Betts. Just one season ago he won the AL MVP, while also capturing the AL’s batting title, en route to leading the Sox to a World Series victory. And while last year certainly saw a step down in production, he still was easily a top-five player in the American League.
Losing the player that has been your most valuable player for the past five years has its implications. Regardless of the stability of the rest of the roster, there will still be a void that needs filling. “The guy” is now gone, and while positionally he can be replaced, his impact may not be as easy to replicate. Many analysts judge who won the trade by choosing who got the best player, and if that’s the case, then the Dodgers won big.
Pro: Huge Payroll Cut
The Red Sox had the largest payroll in the league last year, and this offseasons goal appeared to be trying to remain competitive while also cutting their expenses. To be honest, they pretty much accomplished their goal with this trade. While they are no longer expected to make a run for the World Series, they still have a young core that they can add too thanks to new funds and a brighter future.
David Price, while not being exactly terrible, was an average at best starter last year. Yet he was getting paid the most on the team, occupying money that could’ve been spent on other areas. Meanwhile, Mookie was going to get paid roughly $27 Million this year , which was second highest salary on the Red Sox to Price. This is a lot as it is, but at least he deserved the money.
The issue with Betts and money arises when you consider reports of him wanting around $35 Million per year. Many probably would’ve just given him that money, but if Betts was the one piece needed to get rid of Price, management would’ve had no choice. Either way, it opens up interesting possibilities in the future.
Con: Return Could’ve Fit Better?
The Red Sox, in return for a starting pitcher and superstar outfielder, received rising star Alex Verdugo and two prospects. Not a terrible return at all, but it doesn’t exactly fit. I don’t want to be too picky, but when considering the current state of Boston’s pitching, it sure would’ve been nice to receive either a decent pitcher or pitching prospect.
They got Mookie’s replacement and a potential future second baseman (Jeter Downs), two smart assets to acquire in a trade like this. But they also brought in a decent catcher prospect (Connor Wong), which while not terrible is still a bit strange. Their current catcher, Christian Vazquez, is one of the best catchers in the game on both offense and defense. He still most likely has a handful of years where he will remain a solid piece to the roster.
But compare that to the Red Sox pitching, which is now in dire need of multiple starters and extra depth at reliever. The Dodgers remain very strong in the pitching department, having literally the best pitching in the league. A pitcher like Ross Stripling, a starter who wasn’t even in the Dodgers rotation, would not be too much of an ask.
Great pitching prospects are also not rare in the Dodgers farm system, as they have multiple in the MLB’s Top 100 list. It’s not too much of an ask, especially for Mookie. Heck, the catcher the Dodgers traded to Boston wasn’t even their best catching prospect! While the trade was solid, the return could’ve been better based on the Red Sox current needs.
Pro: Replenishing Farm
The Red Sox farm system has remained very weak in recent years, thanks to the promotion of players like Devers and Chavis, as well as “win now” trades. But this trade is as good a start as any to get back to boasting an impressive bounty of prospects.
Third baseman Bobby Dalbec and first baseman Triston Casas are now joined by top 50 prospect Jeter Downs, a shortstop who could also slide over to second. He batted .333 with five homers in AA, showing his distinguished hitting and power. What makes him so impressive is how well rounded he is. His hitting and power are just two aspects to his game, as his defense and arm are superb, and he also shows signs of spectacular speed.
Even the catcher/second baseman Connor Wong, whom they also received in the trade, is a solid addition. He should now be the top-rated catcher in the Red Sox system, as well as a top 25 prospect in their farm overall. He could be a huge steal for the Sox as, like Downs, Connor is very well rounded in virtually all areas.
He is faster than Downs, with similar defensive talent, though slightly worse in the power-hitting department. While the only real hole in his game is his hitting, he greatly improved when he got moved up to AA from A+, going from a .245 average to .349. He could get called up very soon, which would certainly prove his worth even further. While this won’t make their farm system the best in the league, it is a great start in that direction.
Con: Lack Of Competitiveness
While the Red Sox definitely took a step back, they will still be competitive next season. But it is now even more difficult for the Red Sox to compete with stellar teams like the Yankees and Rays. No longer will it be easy to say the Red Sox will take a deep run in the postseason. That’s not to say they won’t compete, it’s just that it’s going to be much harder with the current squad.
The team is less experienced, and the change in managers makes the environment even more unstable. Expect at the very least a slow start to next season, with possibly the entire year being used to settle into their new situation. But hey, especially in sports, sometimes you need to take a step back before taking a step forward.
Pro: Quick Rebuild
The step back is overall not too great, yet the step forward could propel the Sox to a championship in the near future. They replaced Mookie already, with young Verdugo joining the squad, and they do have some decent options in Price’s case as well. Younger guys like Benintendi, Devers, and Chavis will continue their development into stars, and, as was said before, they also have prospects that show an enormous amount of promise.
But along with what they currently have, they have a window of opportunity similar to that from before their 2013 championship. The year prior to that championship, they were terrible. 2012 was one of the worst seasons in franchise history, yet they turned that into a championship thanks greatly to trading away a large chunk of payroll. They immediately cashed in and signed free agents that were crucial to that championship.
They now find themselves in a similar situation, yet it is one less dire. You still have an amazing team assembled, yes with some glaring holes, but also with the means to obtain stars next offseason. While the trade may feel depressing, it appears the Red Sox management is parodying what worked last time, and hopefully only good can come from it.