We had heard about the rumors for weeks. But nothing happened. It was something that seemed like it would never happen. There’s no way that the Red Sox would trade the face of the franchise, especially not in his prime. The Red Sox are way too focused on winning a championship to actually do something like this.
But then something changed. The MLB hot stove kept getting hotter and hotter. Executives and analysts called it inevitable. But the fans still refused to believe it. The Red Sox would surely go through this season with Mookie on the roster, then try to work out a long term deal in the offseason.
Then, at approximately 9:10 PM Tuesday night, ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan tweeted this:
There was a lot of anger from Red Sox nation, while Dodgers fans rejoiced at their new potential super team. Here is the official trade:
Dodgers get: Mookie Betts, David Price, cash from the Red Sox
Red Sox get: Alex Verdugo, Brusdar Graterol
Twins get: Kenta Maeda
The Dodgers later traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Angels in return for infielder Luis Rengifo and players to be named later as well.
So, what does this mean for the Red Sox? They definitely will be taking a step back this season, as trading your best player and your second best starter will often do that to a team. And yes, the fact that the Red Sox will still be paying over half of David Price’s $96 million contract stinks. But, the Red sox did manage to acquire two players who could be key players for the team in the future. Let’s take a look at both.
Verdugo was a former top 100 prospect for the Dodgers before he made his way to the majors last season. Verdugo played in 106 games for the Dodgers, hitting for a solid .294 average with 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. Having shown a lot of promise in his first season in the majors, Verdugo is said to have a very high floor, is somewhat of a five tool player and can be a very productive member of the Red Sox outfield in the future.
Graterol is the more unknown of the two. He comes from the Minnesota Twins system and was their top pitching prospect. From his 2019 MLB Pipeline Report,
“Graterol’s stuff continues to get better the more he matures and the further removed from surgery he gets. His fastball touches triple digits and will often sit in the 96-98 mph range, with an ability to maintain velocity deep into starts. Throwing with plenty of sink, Graterol misses bats and gets a ton of ground-ball outs off of his fastball. When he committed to throw the harder version of his slider, in the 87-89 mph range, it trended toward plus, but he would back off of it at times. Continued separation between that and his slower curve will help, as will further refinement of his changeup.”
He is also more than capable of touching 100 MPH on the gun.
With his velocity, Graterol could be a big part of fixing the Red Sox massive bullpen problem that has plagued them for so long, or he could even step into the starting rotation.
Overall, this trade was simply to get the Red Sox under the luxury tax, as owner John Henry said that he wanted to do so. At this point in time, the Red Sox still have no manager, and now have just traded away two of their biggest names so things are pretty hectic for fans and the organization as a whole as spring training approaches. Not to mention that they are still awaiting punishment from the league for Alex Cora’s cheating scandal during the 2018 World Series run. In a division where you will be competing directly with the New York Yankees, another one of the MLB’s biggest spenders, going under the luxury tax seems like a move that shows the Red Sox are not that interested in competing for a championship this season. But I’m sure it’ll turn out fine. It’s not like trading an elite right fielder in his prime has burned the Red Sox before, right?
(See: Curse of the Bambino)