Off-season trade discussion involving franchise cornerstone and 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts is absolutely absurd and could be one Boston’s most crucial moves made if the trigger is pulled in the trade market.
With the 2019 Red Sox in the midst of coming up short on October baseball contention, the owner’s core has already responded to a frustrating, underwhelming and disappointing follow-up to their 2018 World Series season for the ages.
September 8, 2019- The Red Sox elected to pull an early trigger and part ways with President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, who didn’t even manage to last one full season post a 119-win 2018 year. Timing aside, this move came as no surprise. Dombrowski began his tenure with the Red Sox post a head-banging Ben Cherington stint that included a 2013 World Series title and many questionable moves that evidently made Cherington appear to be more of an owner’s puppet than an actual General Manager with independence and power. Nevertheless, Dombrowski is gone and according to reports, the Red Sox might also be on the verge of making one the franchises all-time worst moves since the Jon Lester trade to Oakland back in 2014.
Mookie Betts, 26, is fresh off arguably the most impressive/successful season constructed by an American-League major league player. In 2018 Betts was named the American League MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and of course a World Series title. Nobody else in the history of baseball has managed to rack up all those honors in just a single 162-game season.
The only other player to pull this off ever was Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt back in 1980 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
However, it isn’t just dumb to throw Betts in the trade market due to luxury tax complications because of the hardware he racked up in that season.
Mookie also posted a 10.9 WAR for the 2018 season which was, in fact, the highest mark for a position player since baseball Hall of Famer Barry Bonds did so back in 2002 (according to baseball-reference). Betts in his age 25 season, also managed to place his name alongside the great Ted Williams for the second all-time WAR man in Red Sox history. Only Carl Yastrzemski, back in 1967, has had a higher WAR with 12.5, and it came during his infamous Triple-Crown season.
In the past five seasons here’s the list of fWAR in the MLB:
Mike Trout (44.1)
Mookie Betts (35.1)
Max Scherzer (32.5)
Chris Sale (28.3)
Kris Bryant (28.1)
Christian Yelich (27.6)
Josh Donaldson (27.6)
Francisco Lindor (27.3)
The Red Sox have already made it clear that Betts is done for the 2019 season. With under a month left of baseball remaining in Boston for the year, there’s really no point in Betts taking the field until 2020. He finishes 2019 at .293 with 28 home runs, 78 runs batted in, 131 runs, and 15 stolen bases in 144 games played.
Obviously not nearly as impressive as 2018 that made Betts the first Red Sox MVP since Dustin Pedroia in 2008. Nevertheless, a solid year that overall embodies the on-average level production you will receive from having Mookie Betts as your everyday right fielder. Aside from the 40+ home-run power that we see on a year-to-year basis from Mike Trout (Angels) and Christian Yelich (Brewers), Betts could easily be the best player in baseball.
Again, this is a game in which the long-ball takes the cake every-time. Whether it’s due to Justin Verlander’s theory of the MLB juicing up baseballs is a conversation for another day. With that being said the younger Mookie Betts still remains the better all-around player. Even in the outfield, Betts covers up tremendous ground in one of the weirdest and most oddly shaped right-field corners at Fenway Park. He’s made home-run robbing plays that completely make Bostonians want to thank Tony Kemp personally for evidently causing Betts to enter the draft out of high-school following their Vanderbilt visit.
Unlike Trout and Yelich, Betts came up in the developmental leagues of the minors as a second-baseman. Didn’t get the day-to-day experience of the outfield until Triple-A Pawtucket. Yet… you’d never be able to tell when watching him in the outfield.
In fact, Yelich, 27, has put together a massive rise in power that we only caught a glimpse of during his time with the Marlins. Since his age 23 season, Yelich has averaged 25 home-runs per season. Mookie since his age 23 season, which like Yelich, was also his third season in the MLB, has averaged 28 home-runs per season. Pretty impressive for the former infielder who on countless occasions claims he is “not a power-hitter.”
Arguably the best defensive outfielder with 28-32 home-run power to his bat, .300+ batting average with 20+ stolen bases and the defensive versatility that makes it easy for a front office to say make Betts their everyday second-baseman and acquire a power-bat to compliment him in the lineup who can only play the outfield.
That’s the value that having Mookie Betts on your team brings to the field, front-office, and team overall in general.
If the Red Sox wanna play the salary card, there’s certainly room to dump money from the easy-to-replace crew we currently have on the roster. Guys such as Jackie Bradley Jr. ($8,550,000) who’s struggled to show consistent and meaningful plate potential in the regular season, Mitch Moreland ($6,500,000) who’s solid for his role but replaceable, Steve Pearce ($6,250,000) who hasn’t really had a moment since the World Series, Eduardo Nunez ($5,000,000) who isn’t here anymore, Brock Holt ($3,575,000), Sandy Leon ($2,475,000), Heath Hembree ($1,312,500), and Ryan Brasier ($577,500).
That lump-sum of easy-to-replace role players adds up to a total of $34,240,000 in salary. That’s eight guys who together made up for 14.5% of the team’s salary together.
Then comes in the major kicker that could come into play.
The departure of J.D. Martinez. Which also sounds almost as insane as letting Betts go via trade, however, Martinez is five years older than Betts and is currently making up for 10.06% of the 2019 Red Sox payroll with his $23,750,000 annual salary for the year.
Mookie is again just 27 years old and the potential for greater things to come is insane. The detrimental aftermath of imaging a scenario where the Red Sox open their 2020 season without both Martinez and Betts is daunting yet possible.
Aside from Yasiel Puig who is now 29 years old, there aren’t really any notable outfielders on the market for free agency following the 2019 season.
A 7-year contract worth roughly $35 million in annual salary is more than deserving and in some minds would be considered a home-friendly discount.
This is one that the Red Sox cannot afford to screw up