The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox are swinging jaw-dropping trades like it’s 2012.
On Tuesday night, the two baseball titans reportedly hooked up with the Twins on a three-team deal that will see Mookie Betts and David Price go to Los Angeles, Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol wind up in Boston, and Kenta Maeda head north to Minnesota.
Now that the dust has settled, here are the winners and losers from the blockbuster deal:
After an underwhelming offseason that saw the Dodgers’ front office criticized for its inactivity, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman swung for the fences and put his team in position to win its first World Series since 1988. Just look at this projected lineup:
Betts has amassed the second-most WAR of any player since 2016, behind only Mike Trout. He joins a team that led the National League in OPS in 2019, and also possesses the reigning NL MVP in Bellinger.
If you’re wondering how excited the Dodgers are right now, check out Walker Buehler’s Twitter:
And if adding Mookie wasn’t enough, the Dodgers also received a solid veteran starter in Price. Prior to a wrist injury last season, the left-hander was enjoying an excellent year, posting a 3.36 ERA over his first 14 starts. A move to the NL and a change of scenery from what was, at times, a hostile environment in Boston should only benefit the former Cy Young winner.
The Dodgers were also able to hang on to all of their top prospects while staying under the luxury tax. Even if Betts opts for free agency after this season – but seriously, why would he leave Los Angeles – the team can extend a qualifying offer and receive a compensation pick if he signs elsewhere.
Loser: Red Sox
Welcome to Boston, Chaim Bloom. In just a couple of months on the job, he’s had to part ways with beloved manager Alex Cora and trade the franchise’s star player. It’s all gravy for the 36-year-old now, right?
Without a long-term commitment from Betts, and facing a luxury-tax crunch and a roster with little depth and no MLB-ready prospects, Bloom’s hand was forced to an extent. These types of difficult decisions were exactly why he was brought in. Still, it seems like we’re living in the twilight zone when the Red Sox are the ones shipping out future Hall of Famers rather than acquiring them.
It isn’t complete doom and gloom for Boston, however. If the franchise was convinced Betts was gone after this season, it could have done much worse than acquiring a former top prospect in Verdugo, and a top-100 pitching prospect in Graterol. The money moved out gives Bloom much more flexibility for 2020 and beyond. Now, the front office can focus on hiring a manager, while preparing for potential discipline from the league for 2018 electronic sign-stealing allegations. Flags fly forever, but the recent World Series win couldn’t seem further away.
Winner: Mookie Betts
Betts never expressed a desire to be moved, but it must feel good for him to be able to put the trade rumors that followed him all offseason in his rearview. He gets an opportunity to see what life is like with another franchise after spending his entire professional career with one organization, and that will likely be an important learning experience heading into free agency. Betts also improves his chances of winning a World Series, while getting to play for another one of the league’s most prestigious franchises. Mookie never said he didn’t enjoy playing in Boston, but he acknowledged on C.C. Sabathia’s podcast in June that being under the microscope in the city can be daunting at times. In Los Angeles, he’ll be able to better blend in – at least off the field.
Loser: Joc Pederson
In order to cut some salary and open a roster spot for Betts, the Dodgers were forced to move on from Joc Pederson, shipping him to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo. Pederson was drafted by the Dodgers in 2010 and spent his entire six-year MLB career with the club, taking two trips to the World Series. However, he won’t be around when the team fields, arguably, its most talented roster. At least Pederson gets to play alongside Trout and remain in sunny California. He might also get some additional playing time with the Angels which could boost his earnings when he hits the open market next winter.
Winner: AL contenders
The Yankees were already penciled in for the division title, and now their biggest rival has essentially punted on the 2020 season. But the Evil Empire isn’t the only benefactor from the news. The AL has greatly improved this winter with a number of teams expected to compete for playoff spots. Boston’s still capable of reaching the postseason, but its pitching staff is a major wild card. That opens the door for the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, and Texas Rangers.
Winner: Alex Verdugo
Verdugo likely didn’t get as much playing time as he would have wanted with the Dodgers last season, and he now gets to be an everyday player in Boston. He grew up a fan of the Red Sox, idolizing Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, and he’ll get firsthand learning experience from the latter as soon as spring training opens. Verdugo was a consensus top-30 prospect heading into 2019 and posted 3.1 WAR in 343 at-bats before dealing with a back injury. There’s plenty of reason for optimism, but the 23-year-old will need to get off to a strong start because the label of being the player who was traded for Betts will be hard to shake.
Acquiring Betts for one season always seemed like a long shot for San Diego, and watching him go to the Dodgers is a tough pill to swallow for a team with ambitions of challenging for the NL West. Arguably, the Padres could have traded better prospects to Boston, but needing to include Wil Myers’ salary in any deal likely made a trade almost impossible to orchestrate. The hope in San Diego is that Betts only terrorizes the club for one campaign, and then signs elsewhere next winter.
Lost in the Dodgers and Red Sox news is the fact that the Twins jumped in to make a solid addition of their own. Maeda finally gets to become a full-time starter after years of bouncing around between the bullpen and rotation in Los Angeles. He gives Minny a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm that has four more years of control at just $12.5 million total. The cost of acquiring the 31-year-old could be considered steep, as Graterol is a top prospect, but this is a team built to win now. Coming off a 101-win season, the Twins added Josh Donaldson, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey, and they look like a legit challenger to the Yankees and Astros.