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Grading Each Team in the Mookie Betts Trade

The Mookie Betts trade will certainly go down as one of the more memorable trades in recent history. After nearly a five-day delay, the trade was finally completed late Sunday afternoon, with a few changes that were made to the originally agreed upon deal. Now that it is finally complete, we can break down exactly what each of the three teams involved in this trade received and give them a grade.
Image courtesy of © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
These 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.

Grade: A

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.

Grade: B-

Minnesota Twins

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.

Grade: B

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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45 Comments

I give this article an A. :)

 

I think each team got out of the transaction what they wanted, and I can understand the motivations for each. The premature leak of the proposed deal hurt, and perhaps some low-level staffer will lose their job as a result if they are found out. Otherwise, I could see awarding an Oprah style grade of A ("You Get an A, and YOU get an A, you ALL get an A!") to everyone involved, except probably Bosox owner John Henry for not using deep pockets to give the new GM a mulligan for the old GM's financial choices.

    • SQUIRREL, Mike Sixel, nicksaviking and 7 others like this

I would give the Dodgers an A+.They had to give up something and that was Verdugo.Although they gave up Downs and Wong they got back Graterol and Raley two slightly lessor prospects but still within Range of the two they gave up.They lost Maeda but gained Price again a fairly even trade off. So essentially for Verdugo and of course a bunch of money they get Mookie Betts.Absolute genius in my mind.Didn't lose much prospect value and gained a difference maker for the post season. Really, really well done.

 

Boston B+.If they keep Betts this year and things go right for them on the pitching front maybe Boston has a shot hard to say but after that they have nothing left in the prospect pool at all and would still need to reset the cap to get rid of penalties.It is an absolute nightmare scenario.Instead for one year of Mookie they get a very good replacement in Verdugo.Granted not Mookie but in the end he might not be that far off and they get at least three years at reasonable rates as well which they desperately need.Same with Downs who if he keeps doing what he is doing can hopefully fill out second base in the future for them.The Catcher is a need they have and has an added bonus of being a utility player as well.All for one year of Mookie Betts with the added bonus of resetting the cap this year so they could go over next year if they need to add a couple more players to strengthen the roster again.It was a very solid and timely move for the Sox.They did very well IMO certainly much better than keeping Betts.

 

The Twins B-.The Twins put themselves in a position that they needed another starter to start the season and while they got Maeda I am not confident he will pitch as well as we hope and don't believe he is the answer to our post season woes.Although they could afford to give up Graterol and Raley to achieve that I still think the Dodgers win this deal.Throw in the Second round comp pick and I know the Dodgers won this deal. Yeah the Twins got 10M but they lost the ability to move around in the draft and they lost two good prospects with 6 years of control for an older pitcher who may or may not age well.It is a win now move and I get that and I am not completely unhappy about it but because we gained only money and no prospects back that brings the grade down a notch for me.

 

If the FO can explain why they needed the money and use it in a way that helps the team at the deadline then I would revise this grade to B+ but until I know it is B- for me.I was very pleased that our FO did not cave to Bostons demands and I am glad they got involved in a deal to make this team better.This FO is breaking all the old ways of doing business and I hope it leads to lots of future success.

    • Steve Lein, mikelink45, sftwinsfan and 2 others like this
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howieramone2
Feb 10 2020 09:54 PM
They need the money because we're owned by Pohlads. The 2018 trade deadline was text book and this offseason was the greatest in our history. Pry yourself away from TD and see what the national experts are saying.
    • RaymondLuxuryYacht likes this
I think the 10 million is the average estimated value based on WAR if I had to guess. The Twins likely used the same valuations when they sold a pick to the Pads with Hughes....

I like this trade for the Twins. I bet Maeda and Graterol end up with similar values. The 10 million covers most of the base contract so Maeda is aost free with incentives. Raley is redundant and we got him from LA anyways and so they can have him back for being the other adult in this trade.....
There is no accurate way to judge this trade right now. A year or two we could maybe assign a better grade.

LA and the Twins are in a NOW moment. Boston is not.

While this trade does not overwhelm me with immediate baseball fairy dust to believe the Twins just bought a WS, I think hope and expectation in regard to Maeda vs hope and expectation for Graterol clouds some opinions. Maeda is a very nice addition. He is not some also ran throw-in ballplayer.

Not crazy about losing the pick, especially since short term results seem to indicate this FO knows how to draft, but it is part of the process.

The $10M is to offset the biggest payroll in Twins history, and never before seen aggressive moves by the FO and ownership, and possibly assist in a mid-year acquisition.

But yeah, they just got that tossed in to line pockets.
    • mikelink45 and MN_ExPat like this
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Michigan Twins Fan
Feb 11 2020 03:58 AM

 

They need the money because we're owned by Pohlads. The 2018 trade deadline was text book and this offseason was the greatest in our history. Pry yourself away from TD and see what the national experts are saying.

I subscribe to the Athletic, and I live in Metro Detroit. The media I read has said nothing about the tight-fisted Pohlads. It's something I only hear from Twins's fans, and, frankly, I think it's tired. As I've said before, Terry Ryan bragged about the money he would leave on the table. Bragged. The Pohlads were always willing to spend more but Ryan's mindset was stuck in the previous generation. This FO has increased the staff and coaching budget while inking the largest FA deal in team history. This isn't the same ol' Pohlads whom people let live in their heads rent free. Which is ironic considering their disdain for the family's frugality. 

    • Blake, BigSkyTwinsFan, woolywoolhouse and 13 others like this

Had the Twins signed Wheeler, Keuchel or Baumgarner as free agents instead oftrading for Maeda, would we have felt better because it would have meant that we would have been able to keep Graterol?We will miss not having him on the team, but IMHO, the FO has shown intelligence, patience and savvy to put the Twins in a serious Win Now position for 2020 by securing Donaldson and Maeda instead of the semi-'impact' pitcher that they originally had on their radar.There is even plenty left in the farm system to upgrade at the trade deadline if that would make a World Series run a distinct possibility.I trust Falvey and Levine to do it right, and each transaction is a gamble (which I believe is worth taking).I would give the Twins' FO an A.

    • luckylager, mikelink45, DocBauer and 3 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 11 2020 06:36 AM
All trades are graded as incomplete until many years later. With Graterol so young, we may not really know until 10 years down the line. Although, if this trade is a brick in the Twins winning a World Series title then it's an A+ regardless if Graterol has a lights out 15 year career.
    • mikelink45, MN_ExPat, miracleb and 1 other like this
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Major League Ready
Feb 11 2020 07:10 AM

 

All trades are graded as incomplete until many years later. With Graterol so young, we may not really know until 10 years down the line. Although, if this trade is a brick in the Twins winning a World Series title then it's an A+ regardless if Graterol has a lights out 15 year career.

 

Actually, the trade between LA and Boston ended up being independent of the Twins. The value of their trade for the most part will be determined this year given Betts is a FA at the end of the year. Of course, it is possible Price pitches well for 3 years and contributes to LA winning a world series. The Dodgers have had a long world series drought than the Twins. I would assume that weighed heavily on their decision to give up a couple good players for a rental. 

 

The trade with the Twins could take a few years to grade. LA gave up a player that was not particularly important to their success for a guy who could be an impact player. This could be a huge win for them with little possibility of the trade ever having a significant negative impact for the Dodgers. Plus, they get a decent draft choice.

    • mikelink45, Rigby and MN_ExPat like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 11 2020 07:15 AM

 

Had the Twins signed Wheeler, Keuchel or Baumgarner as free agents instead oftrading for Maeda, would we have felt better because it would have meant that we would have been able to keep Graterol?We will miss not having him on the team, but IMHO, the FO has shown intelligence, patience and savvy to put the Twins in a serious Win Now position for 2020 by securing Donaldson and Maeda instead of the semi-'impact' pitcher that they originally had on their radar.There is even plenty left in the farm system to upgrade at the trade deadline if that would make a World Series run a distinct possibility.I trust Falvey and Levine to do it right, and each transaction is a gamble (which I believe is worth taking).I would give the Twins' FO an A.

 

This... I'm not sure I'd call Maeda a semi-impact type guy. He was stuck, but he's a known quantity and there's some upside that might be able to be found, so I have no problems targeting him. 

 

My bigger problem is missing out on guys who would have cost only cash... We'd still have Graterol in that scenario. I have no problems trading assets for need, but I'd rather spend the money on that need first and foremost...

 

Only time will tell if this works out... It might be a very good trade at the end of the day... The downside fortunately is fairly low. The big downside is if Graterol suddenly finds health and can start. I know personally I was on record saying he had one more season to prove it before moving to the pen. It sounds like people in the know had already reached that conclusion. 

    • mikelink45 and jud6312 like this

 

All trades are graded as incomplete until many years later. With Graterol so young, we may not really know until 10 years down the line. Although, if this trade is a brick in the Twins winning a World Series title then it's an A+ regardless if Graterol has a lights out 15 year career.

That is the reality take. Pretty much you can only use the years of team control, not subsequent years afterwards. It make take longer than 10 years for the catcher to get to his six year point. The reality take is pointless if you are looking at win now.

    • mikelink45 likes this
I don't love giving up Graterol for essentially payroll relief. I would much rather have seen them sign Ryu and keep Graterol. And if you don't sign Bailey, who was also signed because he was cheap, He wouldn't even cost that much more. With Ryu and Graterol, you have two pitchers who could dominate in the playoffs. Bailey and Maeda are compromises, made for financial reasons.

It's great they signed Donaldson but that still barely put payroll at half of revenue. If you have a window open go for it. These aren't go for it moves. Imagine Ryu followed by Graterol against the Yankees. That's a playoff team. It's nice they got a cheap, pretty good pitcher, but it's not exciting, and I'll miss Graterol. Probably smart if you're on a tight budget but keeps them a level below the favorites.
    • mikelink45 and Wizard11 like this
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twinsfanstreif
Feb 11 2020 07:38 AM
I've not been as high on Graterol as many have and it seems the Twins have a similar opinion. Almost all of the things fans were excited about in him were the same things everyone said about Fernando Romero and his value tanked big time. As a reliever it's the exact stuff that we all loved about Burdi, Chargois, and Bard and we literally got nothing for any of those players. In my mind his ceiling was maybe Kelvin Herrera which is some value for sure but nothing near the expectation that some people had, Might as well leverage him for a know commodity now, I'm ok with that.
    • gbg, chpettit19 and In My La-Z-boy like this

If the Dodgers win the WS this year the trade is an A. Does the trade make it much more likely, yes. Does it help them the following year? No, it hurts them. Pointless though in an obvious win now scenario. Maeda trade is not a win now move. It is moving a player who is not likely to be happy being a bullpen pitcher

Boston needed to get under the luxury threshold and get some prospects in their system. The consequences of being over are too great.They were going to lose Betts, the get a few years of a cost controlled replacement and another prospect..

The Twins. If the Twins landed a pitcher that could get them past the Yankees they won the trade. They needed a staring pitcher to help stabilize the rotation. Maeda has been over a 2 fwar as a starter That is actually above what you get out of most starters. Still a third best starter territory. A little above average starter should get you just a little above average grade.Gave up Graterol.to get him. As a reliever does he have 4 seasons of being a full time near top reliever in baseball? If you think yes it is a bad trade. The FO thought otherwise.

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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Feb 11 2020 08:23 AM

 

I don't love giving up Graterol for essentially payroll relief. I would much rather have seen them sign Ryu and keep Graterol. And if you don't sign Bailey, who was also signed because he was cheap, He wouldn't even cost that much more. With Ryu and Graterol, you have two pitchers who could dominate in the playoffs. Bailey and Maeda are compromises, made for financial reasons.

It's great they signed Donaldson but that still barely put payroll at half of revenue. If you have a window open go for it. These aren't go for it moves. Imagine Ryu followed by Graterol against the Yankees. That's a playoff team. It's nice they got a cheap, pretty good pitcher, but it's not exciting, and I'll miss Graterol. Probably smart if you're on a tight budget but keeps them a level below the favorites.

I think you may have said this previously, but I am interested in your source.Most things I haveseen have been, as best, educated guesses.

    • chpettit19 likes this

 

I've not been as high on Graterol as many have and it seems the Twins have a similar opinion. Almost all of the things fans were excited about in him were the same things everyone said about Fernando Romero and his value tanked big time. As a reliever it's the exact stuff that we all loved about Burdi, Chargois, and Bard and we literally got nothing for any of those players. In my mind his ceiling was maybe Kelvin Herrera which is some value for sure but nothing near the expectation that some people had, Might as well leverage him for a know commodity now, I'm ok with that.

I was very high on Romero at one point, but I cannot equate him with Graterol.The pen seemed to ruin Romero, while Graterol was great in a late season and playoff usage.Romero did not get over the mental hurdle but Graterol just want the ball.I suspect Graterol will be a real stud, but Romero will be someone with so much talent that everyone wants him to succeed and therefore he will hang around on the fringes.

Lots of A's and A+ and B+ grades floating everywhere, but as a college instructor I have to tell you I do not give grades at the beginning of the semester and we should look at forecasts, but not give grades to these teams yet.

 

 

    • SQUIRREL, BigSkyTwinsFan, DocBauer and 2 others like this

 

I think you may have said this previously, but I am interested in your source.Most things I haveseen have been, as best, educated guesses.

I mean, none of us have the Twins tax returns, if that's what you're after. But Forbes seems like the most educated guess of all, and they had the Twins at $269 mil revenue for 2018, and almost certainly higher now:

 

https://www.forbes.c...ortreverse:true

 

And Cot's has the Twins at $135 mil payroll for 2020, as commonly defined (current year MLB player salaries):

 

https://docs.google....#gid=1520401900

    • MN_ExPat likes this

 

From an optics perspective, this trade could not have gone any worse for the Red Sox, and newly appointed GM Brian O'Halloran. 

Brian O'Halloran? The guy from "Clerks"? :)

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nicksaviking
Feb 11 2020 09:19 AM

If I were to rank my non-Cole/Strasburg free agent preferences along with Maeda, it would have been 

 

Wheeler

Maeda

Ryu

Bumgarner

 

Zero interest in Keuchel

 

So, I like this trade. 

    • Twins33, Major League Ready, DocBauer and 2 others like this

I'm a little concerned with Maeda. There is the weird usage with the Dodgers. Will he hold up in a full season of a starting role? Was that only done because they had too many capable pitchers or was it by design to ease his workload? Judging by the contract structure, that was their intent all along to have him in that split role.There is also the switch to the AL.I'm not convinced he will be anything more than a mid 4's ERA guy with us.

 

He already shows signs of wearing down as the season goes on. The Dodgers had him entirely out of the bullpen in September the last 2 season.That could just be to pay him less but the numbers support that decision.

 

2019

pre all-star game 3.76 ERA 17 games 17 starts

July 5.11 ERA 6 games 5 starts

August 4.26 ERA 5 games 5 starts

September 3.45 ERA 10 games 0 starts

 

2018

Pre all-star game 3.12 ERA 18 games 16 starts

July 3.86 ERA 5 games 4 starts

August 5.74 ERA 6 games 2 starts

September 4.22 ERA 12 games 0 starts

 

We don't really know what we lost with Graterol but Maeda seems like a question mark as well. Steamer updated their projection to 150 innings of 4.63 ERA with the Twins for what its worth.

    • mikelink45 likes this
The Twins absolutely needed starting pitching. And a lot of it.

Pretty simple to me, they don't view Graterol as a starter. Of the class of prospects that got their feet wet in 2019, he's got the best 'stuff'. If they thought he was ever gonna be a starter I don't see the value in trading him for Maeda.

Once the Donaldson deal got done (which I absolutely love, btw), money got a little tight. Giving up Brusdar stings a little, but getting Maeda essentially paid for this year is pretty good value back for the Twins.

Berrios
Odorizzi
Maeda
Pineda
Hill
Bailey
Chacin

If only half of these guys catch fire, its gonna be a much better rotation than the last few years. Odorizzi is on one of those 'I need to earn my one big contract' years. And also, somehow the lineup is seemingly better than last year, if that's possible. And(!) Bringing in Clippard and resigning Romo deepens the bullpen.

I was pretty harsh and skeptical of the FO when Ryu went elsewhere. But I'll gladly eat the crow here and give credit where credit is due. Quite a bit was done this offseason and I'm pretty impressed.

This specific trade probably gets a B+, overall offseason gets a solid A from me.
    • SQUIRREL, spycake, Major League Ready and 3 others like this

 

Judging by the contract structure, that was their intent all along to have him in that split role.

I don't think so. The Dodgers used him 100% out of the rotation his first season and postseason. They didn't shift him to the pen until after an IL stint and an iffy start to the 2017 season; and subsequent shifts to the pen were generally when the Dodgers had 5+ better SP options and were preparing for the postseason.

 

The Dodgers actually offered Maeda the option to re-structure his contract this winter, so he could meet some of those incentives without starting, but Maeda declined.

    • Wizard11 likes this
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howieramone2
Feb 11 2020 09:53 AM

 

I subscribe to the Athletic, and I live in Metro Detroit. The media I read has said nothing about the tight-fisted Pohlads. It's something I only hear from Twins's fans, and, frankly, I think it's tired. As I've said before, Terry Ryan bragged about the money he would leave on the table. Bragged. The Pohlads were always willing to spend more but Ryan's mindset was stuck in the previous generation. This FO has increased the staff and coaching budget while inking the largest FA deal in team history. This isn't the same ol' Pohlads whom people let live in their heads rent free. Which is ironic considering their disdain for the family's frugality. 

Granted we signed JD. I don't take that we mean in the future we will be allowed to spend like drunken sailors. I bet your subscription to the Athletic vs. my membership to FanGraphs, that indeed it is the same ol' Pohlads.

 

We don't really know what we lost with Graterol but Maeda seems like a question mark as well. Steamer updated their projection to 150 innings of 4.63 ERA with the Twins for what its worth.

Agreed that Maeda has some question marks as a starter.

 

FWIW, ZiPS has him at a 4.25 ERA for 2020. Both ZiPS and Steamer don't really account for changes in playing time, so both are projecting him in a similar swing role that he had with the Dodgers.

 

But beyond ERA, both systems project him in the 1.9-2.4 WAR range, prorated to 156 innings. That's about right for an average-range SP, which is still useful but may be a question mark for the postseason rotation just like he was for the Dodgers.

    • mikelink45, Wizard11 and MN_ExPat like this

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