The transactions are still a ways away, but it’s always the case that August kinda starts to kick up the chatter about the big name possibilities in the offseason. So, in that regard, this report does not surprise me.
It doesn’t even surprise me that it’s a huge name, because it makes sense for the Red Sox to take the temperature on the market.
Jon Morosi was on Fox Sports today talking about reigning MVP, Mookie Betts. Morosi mentions a Joel Sherman report that Betts turned down a $200 million, eight-year extension, and thus seems very likely to hit free agency after the coming season. Morosi takes it a step further saying he was, “told by sources today that there’s a belief in the industry … that the Red Sox will at least listen to trade offers for Mookie in the winter.”
The rationale and the aim, Morosi says, would be to get young pitching (particularly because their payroll is already so high).
Betts, 26, is a free agent after next season, so, regardless of his awesomeness, I do think it’s at least plausible that the Red Sox would shop him this winter if they’re confident they cannot extend him, and also confident they can get a haul. The rub on that second part is that, although Betts was a monster last year, he’s taken a huge step back at the plate this year – and, indeed, last year was the only monster offensive season in his career. His defense has been a huge part of his value, and even that is way down (by the metrics) this season.
So, then, a trading team is getting a guy for one season, in which he may make close to $30 million in his final pass at arbitration, and in which he might merely be a very, very good player, rather than a transformative piece of your lineup.
Again, yeah, it seems pretty plausible that the Red Sox would shop him if they could get a huge return. But could they? Is there a team out there that wants one year of Betts at that price tag in exchange for, let’s say, two excellent big-league ready rotation pieces? (Morosi mentions the Braves as a possibility, because they have the pieces, are near-term competitive, and then perhaps they would then try to extend Betts. Maybe so, but until and unless the Braves demonstrate a much more serious appetite for spending, I’m not sure they’re ready to trade a ton to get a guy and then also pay him $200+ million.)
It’ll be fun to follow either way if it becomes a thing (and no, I wouldn’t necessarily put the Cubs in that conversation right now, though they could arguably use an impact outfield bat (unless they extend Nick Castellanos …. )).