Grading Each Team in the Mookie Betts Trade
Image courtesy of © Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsThese grades will take a few factors into account, all of which seem relevant to this specific trade. The first, and most important, is grading the actual assets received, minus the assets given. The next factor that plays into the grading is how this trade plays into each team’s overall strategic objective. Finally, other external factors, such as public perception, will play into these grades, as they can have a lasting effect on these organizations.
Los Angeles Dodgers
We will start with the team that is receiving the headline player of this trade, the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is an origination that clearly has a win now mentality, as they have one of the best rosters in baseball. They are also frustrated that their efforts to win the organization's first World Series since 1988 continue to come up just short year after year. A move to add one of the best players in the game, in Mookie Betts, for the 2020 season does just that.
The Dodgers were also able to add lefty starter David Price in this deal as well. While Price certainly isn’t the pitcher he once was, he is still a quality MLB starting pitcher, and with the Red Sox paying half of his remaining salary, the Dodgers are getting him at a pretty good price.
One of the big changes to the initial offer, is that the Dodgers will now also be sending middle infield prospect Jeter Downs (MLB Pipeline’s #44 ranked prospect) to the Red Sox, and Jair Camargo and $10M to the Twins. In return, they will now also be receiving Brusdar Graterol, Luke Raley and the Twins 2020 Competitive Balance Round B draft pick (#67 overall). Overall, that is a pretty good haul for the Dodgers, who should now be the clear favorites in the National League, if they weren’t already.
Boston Red Sox
Next, we will take a look at the most controversial team in this trade, the Boston Red Sox. From an optics perspective, this trade could not have gone any worse for the Red Sox, and newly appointed GM Brian O'Halloran. After many failed attempts to extend Mookie Betts, the Red Sox brass decided the best move would be to trade Betts now and recoup whatever value they could for him, rather than just let him walk as a free agent at year’s end. This was a decision that went over terribly with their fanbase. Then after all the pushback from the fans and media, the Red Sox conveniently saw an issue with Brusdar Graterol’s medical records, which allowed them to get the deal restructured. It’s probably safe to assume this move will make MLB teams hesitant to do business with O'Halloran, at least in the short term.
From a roster and strategic standpoint, I think the Red Sox made out pretty well in this trade. The received not one, but two top young players in Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs, along with a decent catching prospect in Connor Wong. Not only that, but the Red Sox managed to achieve their goal of shedding payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold, by clearing out $43M in 2020 payroll and $16M in both 2021 and 2022, by sending David Price to the Dodgers, who agreed to take on half his remaining salary.
From a strategic perspective, this trade made a lot of sense for the Red Sox. Sure they lost out on their final season of Mookie Betts, but the Red Sox had a tough hill to climb to make it back to the World Series in 2020 anyway, so why not take a smarter long-term approach, and make this team better in the years to come? From that viewpoint, this was a decent trade for the Red Sox, but with this trade being a PR nightmare for the Red Sox, I am going to have to knock their grade down a bit.
Now that we got through the Dodgers and Red Sox, let’s talk about the team most of you probably care about, the Minnesota Twins. While they weren’t part of the headlining package, the Twins found themselves right in the middle of everything, especially after the Red Sox put this trade on hold with concerns over Brusdar Graterol’s medical records. When the dust settled, the Twins wound up trading Graterol to the Dodgers instead of the Red Sox. They also received young catching prospect Jair Camargo plus $10M in cash from the Dodgers in exchange for 25-year-old outfield prospect Luke Raley and their Competitive Balance Round B pick in the 2020 draft.
From an on-field perspective, this trade was okay for the Twins. They did add a veteran starter in Kenta Maeda, who is on a very team-friendly contract. However, they did it at the expense of trading away Brusdar Graterol. Even if Graterol is condemned to the bullpen, it is a fair argument to make that Graterol, if he lives up to his potential, will be as, if not more, valuable than Maeda will be over the next few seasons. While Graterol certainly isn’t a guarantee, neither is Maeda, who will be entering his age 32 season in 2020 and has already exceeded 2,100 professional innings pitched.
Giving away Luke Raley doesn’t hurt that much, as he was a bit of a redundancy for the Twins at this point. They also gave up the #67 overall pick in the draft. While 2020 slot values have not been released, the 2019 slot value for the 67th overall pick was $976,700. Expect that to raise slightly in 2020. While $10M is certainly higher than that, bear in mind that MLB draft dollars do not equate one to one with actual dollars, as the limitations on spending in the draft makes draft dollars more valuable than the actual number they represent. However, that $10M can see a more immediate impact than either Raley or the player taken with the 67th overall pick will have for the Twins, so that plays in well with their strategic objective.
Obviously as time progresses, the perception of these trade will begin to change, but for now it is pretty clear that the Los Angels Dodgers are the big winners of this trade, especially if they go on to win the 2020 World Series. Let us know how you would grade each team in this trade?
If you want more insight into this trade, check out this video trade review Tom Froemming. Tom posts tons of great Minnesota Twins content on YouTube, so be sure to subscribe to his channel to see all the videos he posts.
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