Mookie Betts seems ready to play things right to free agency after next season, so here are five offseason trade scenarios if the Red Sox do look to move him.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts drew a line in the proverbial sand when he turned down a reported eight-year, $200 million contract extension from the team after the 2017 season. So the idea he could be traded this offseason is not new, but ESPN’s Joon Lee has more recently reported the Red Sox will listen to offers for the 2018 AL MVP in order to kickstart a rebuild of their farm system.
Currently, Boston has one prospect (1B/3B Triston Casas, No. 86) ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects. Couple that with some front office upheaval, and a desire to get under the luxury tax threshold, and a new deal for Betts entering his final year of arbitration in 2020 doesn’t seem palatable.
Betts has also openly acknowledged the business side of his situation, and his obligation to maximize his value for those that will come behind him. Mike Trout’s 10-year extension with $360 million in new money is the top of the heap, but Betts is second to Angels’ star outfield in fWAR over the last two seasons (16.7, to 18.3 for Trout).
Betts set a record for a second-time arbitration-eligible player with his one-year, $20 million deal for this year, and another record-setting raise is in line for next year. So any team with interest would have to willing take on that money, and be willing to surrender significant prospect assets for the chance to be first in line to get Betts signed long-term.
Earlier this year, an executive told Jayson Stark of The Athletic (subscription required) that Betts could surpass Trout’s total payout and become the first player to sign for $500 million.
Betts may not particularly want out of Boston, and they may hesitate to trade him all things considered. But these five teams could make a Godfather-style “offer that can’t be refused” this offseason, and add one of the best players in baseball to their fold.
5. Minnesota Twins
The Twins have a top-10 ranked farm system, and the payroll flexibility to both take on Betts’ presumed 2020 one-year deal that will push toward $25 million and sign him long-term.
At first glance, the Twins seem to have a loaded outfield. But Byron Buxton is constantly injured, Eddie Rosario is as talented as he is unpredictable and streaky. So that leaves Max Kepler as a sure-fire future piece, with a contract extension to prove it.
For what it’s worth, top prospect Royce Lewis is playing some center field in the Arizona Fall League.
A newly added layer to any Twins-Red Sox trade dynamic involving Betts is chief baseball officer Derek Falvey’s place on the list of candidates to replace Dave Dombrowski in Boston. If Falvey were to go to the Red Sox, would he send Betts to Minnesota for a group of players and prospects he’s intimately familiar with (for better or worse?
But here’s a trade offer the Twins could make.
OF Mookie Betts
Red Sox Get
OF Eddie Rosario
or OF Byron Buxton
IF Nick Gordon, OF Trevor Larnach and P Brusdar Graterol