BSR Blog

Red Sox Pull Indefensible Trigger in Trading Mookie Betts

Billionaire Boston ownership poorly plays luxury-tax card in attempt to cover their true intentions of team profits over wins.

Well, it happened.

We all knew it was coming yet hung on to some thread of hope that an agreement would be reached between the Boston Red Sox and top-tier, elite talent Mookie Betts.

Following reports of Betts rejecting Boston’s offer of 10-years/$300 million, came an instant narrative of pure ignorance and dismissal of both Betts intentions and caliber of talent.

A narrative poorly attempting to portray Betts as some “greedy” and “money hungry” athlete who isn’t loyal by Red Sox ownership. As if being in Betts’ shoes accompanies an obligation to stand by a group of ownership that’s low-balled Betts, almost insultingly, for the past few off-seasons in attempt to lock in to a high-way robbery contract.

Well… to those who either don’t know or have forgotten how the market of professional sports works, its plain and simple.

When an athlete prior to his prime at 27-years of age, such as Betts, has reached four consecutive MLB All-Star appearances, and has never fallen below the top-8 in votes for league MVP, he’s got what we call “leeway”. Something earned from reaching a level at being so good at what you do, that you can demand a certain amount of salary from BILLIONAIRE owners who sign your pay checks.

The report that stated Betts countered the Red Sox with a 12-year/$420 millions offer was completely misconstrued and blown out of proportion.

As an Economics major I’ll always remember the very first lesson of ECO 101. Supply and demand. That $400 million number isn’t tossed around in unjustly fashion when talking about Mookie Betts. The dude has earned all right to demand the full payment set and due for a talent of his caliber in this game.

Let’s apply basic math we all (hopefully) successfully learned back in grade school.
420 divided by 12 equals 35. That’s a $5 million annual salary difference. Would the Einstein’s of the MLB-Twittersphere have gone identically as berserk had the Red Sox offered Betts $280 million through eight years or $315 through nine years? Doubt it. However it was the number 12 that rallied the ignorance together in a nagging rage of incompetence.

Mind you, the Red Sox announced months prior to Spring Training that they would indeed raise ticket prices by 1.7% for the 2020 season. An organization that earned over $500 million in revenue for the 2018 season isn’t exactly concerned when it comes to their financials.

Begs the question. What really matters to John Henry?

Prior to the off-season the three words cemented as priority numero uno for Boston was “luxury-tax threshold” and doing whatever it takes to get below that “daunting” number that petrifies the multi-billionaire himself in Henry.

Shopping perhaps the most complete player in the last 100 or so years of Red Sox baseball cannot be supported by any means. Despite the fact that, no re-signing Mookie Betts doesn’t repair the bullpen or add starting rotation depth.

Nevertheless, neither does acquiring a one-year of MLB experience corner outfielder (Alex Verdugo), alongside an all over the place scratch ticket in Brusdar Graterol. I apply the term “scratch ticket” in regards to Graterol in the most amplified and fullest of extents. At 21 years old, Graterol is listed number 83 in the Top-100 MLB prospects with scouting reports having very minimal confidence in projecting his role as a pitcher. A “potential” gunner with a rumored 104 MPH fastball thrown in the minors (once). Along with concerns of durability as a starter which leaves a starting pitching prospect as backend reliever with fireball “potential”. Sounds a lot like Daniel Bard or hopefully Joe Kelly if we wanna be optimistic.

So we got a .290 hitting corner outfielder with 15-18 home-run potential and a wild-card right-handed pitcher in exchange for the 2018 A.L. MVP and the guy who should’ve been the 2018 World Series MVP…

Way to totally not get played by a team that won 106 games last season Sox!

Now to defeat the ignorant, poor counter debate in support of this trade that’s surfaced just about everywhere.

“Mookie Betts re-sign isn’t necessary when the Red Sox bullpen/rotation isn’t playoff quality”

Fair nevertheless J.D. Martinez was never rumored to be dealt and still remains on the roster with over $60 million remains in owed salary. He remains one of the top five-to-10 hitters in all of baseball with a fairly hefty but financially friendly when considering the return, contract on the books. Knowing this ownership group and their priorities, clearing up $60 million in owed salary could really get Henry’s mouth watering.

Unfortunately, that whole consistency aspect of making a theory or idea legit, doesn’t actually exist in that argument which evidently dismisses its purpose and place in this conversation.

In an age of sports being analytically driven. Let’s consider the following:

Mookie Betts, 27, is just second in WAR (35.1) behind Mike Trout (44.1) for baseballs leader in the past five seasons. Since 2016, a year he should’ve been named A.L. MVP, Betts hasn’t missed an All-Star appearance.

Here are the most recent major pay-days for position players in the MLB along with their season numbers prior to signing their respective extensions:

  • Nolan Areando (8 years, $260M, Rockies)
    208- .297 BA, 38 HRs, 110 RBIs, 175 hits, 590 at-bats
  • Manny Machado (10 years, $300M, Padres)
    2018- .297 BA, 37 HRs, 107 RBIs, 188 hits, 632 at-bats
  • Bryce Harper (13 years, $330M, Phillies)
    2018- .249 BA, 34 HRs, 100 RBIs, 137 hits, 550 at-bats

Last season, an “off-year”, for Betts, he batted .295 with 29 homers and 80 runs batted in, while collecting 176 total base-hits throughout his 150 games played.

If expecting a career .301 hitter with 25-30+ home-run power in the LEADOFF spot, to not request a contract roughly worth $35 million in annual salary makes sense to you, then I suggest you consult the nearest insane asylum immediately for that ludicrous stance.

He remains one of the toughest outs for a right-handed hitter in all of baseball, and without a doubt the most efficient right-fielder in baseball today. Betts is so masterful defensively that he developed secondly Gold Glove defense after being brought up as an infielder, then thrown to Centerfield, then over to Right-field.
To be shifted around and yet still manage to perform both at the plate and on defense at an elite level is insane to comprehend.
The most unfathomed concept being this trade is the fact that the organization seemed to undervalue Betts. This isn’t a player we’ve seen in a Red Sox uniform in a very long time. We’re talking elite both at the plate and with the glove. We’d have to go back to the days of Fred Lynn back in the 80s; and even Mookie outshines him everywhere.

There’s no debating the fact-of-the-matter being that the Boston Red Sox pulling the trigger to trade Mookie Betts was a sac-religious move that challenges everything an organization like the Red Sox develop talent for. Back in 2014 this sums money-saving hungry ownership fumbled a very similar and poorly handled situation in farm-system product Jon Lester.

All at the cost of watching him and the superior baseball mind of Theo Epstein, who you also foolishly let go, hoist a 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series trophy together.

Face it. This move is a major setback that ownership put themselves in to fumble.

Artwork by (@sportsguygio)