Ok, I apologize for the clickbait headline. That’s not the kind of thing we do here. And really, this is only for my entertainment. I’m really only needling Fifth Feather, and possibly Wes and Hess, the other Sox fans on this blog. McClure gave up feeling long ago. Still, it actually has some legs if you think about it for a second.
Or really, it’s just an extension of another rumor that has been whispered around the kinds of campfires that get people excited (insert Boy Scouts joke here). As we discussed last month, there are people already connecting the dots of J.D. Martinez opting out of the last three years of his contract in Boston and signing with the Sox. It would be out of character for them, and they probably just want to make it look like they tried, much like they did with Manny Machado. But the logic is again sound. So why not just go get the better, younger player who can actually wear a glove and not be a danger to himself?
Here’s the thing. Players of Mookie Betts’s quality don’t just come to be available. At least they shouldn’t. You may argue that Machado or Bryce Harper were available, but they aren’t anywhere close to Mookie. The dude has two 8+-WAR seasons on his resume, including a 10.4 last year when he deservedly got a MVP over Mike Trout. That should like, never happen. No one should ever deservedly win a MVP over Trout, and that includes you this year, Alex Bregman. You know how many other players have had two 8+-WAR seasons in the past ten years? Trout. That’s it. Even this year, which was considered an “off year” for Mookie, he had a wRC+ of 135 and an OPS of .915.
He also goes into a position the Sox might not have an answer for long term. Luis Robert looks poised to make his home in center sometime next season, but there’s no solution in right. And Betts is probably the best right fielder there is. Certainly among them. He improves a defense that could certainly use it. The Sox had the second-worst production out of right this past season overall, and were 25th in defense there. Betts turns that around upon arrival at O’Hare.
Oh, I know, Martinez would simply cost money, whereas you have to trade for Betts, and then give him even more money. Well, if Martinez was going to opt out of just a shade north of $20M a year, he would do so because he thinks he’s going to get $25M or more per year. So it there that much difference in handing Betts, who again is five years younger and better, $30M or $35M a year? I would argue it isn’t much considering what you’re getting. Then again, it’s not my $10M.
So, the trade for him. I’m not convinced it will be as much as you’d first guess. One, he only has one year of control left, which is an arbitration year that’s going to push toward $30M for the season. Second, the Red Sox have made it clear they’re kind of desperate to move him along, because they’re incredibly stupid or greedy or both. It’s the competition that might drive up the price on him, but again, I can’t see where the original asking price would be astronomical.
It’s nearly impossible to find a comp. Chris Sale was a pitcher, who also had an extremely team-friendly contract already in place. He cost the Carmines two prime prospects going the other way. Sale was also one of the best pitchers in baseball then. Again, players like this just don’t become available. Christian Yelich didn’t become a perennial MVP until after his trade. Would Madrigal and Cease be enough? Madrigal and Dunning? Maybe even Lopez? The thing with the Sox is that they have plenty of options to offer.
And more importantly, the Sox don’t really have to pay anyone important other than Jose Abreu (and I’ll let you debate how important he actually is) for a long time. Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez are already locked in for a bit. Yoan Moncada isn’t even to arbitration yet. Same goes for Giolito. They might even struggle to get back to this year’s $90M payroll. Seriously, there’s plenty of room for a while for Betts.
Did I mention he bats leadoff?
The Sox would clearly have to outbid some teams here. One would think teams with a stocked system would come calling, such as the Padres or Reds or maybe even Braves (and an outfield with him and Acuna…well just fuck off really). Besides we all know he’s going to the Astros anyway. But the thing is…the Sox can do it.
Even if you don’t believe the Twins are a consistent 100-win team from here on out, and I sure don’t, the Sox still have to gain 20-25 more wins to catch them and stay there. Maybe they can get there through growth of their own players, but that’s a two-year process at least, thanks to the injury status of some of their pitchers and development curves of other players. Fucking juice it.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ve ruined some hot stove seasons when this doesn’t happen. Happy to help.