Well, the big news that we have all been dreading has finally broken. Mookie Betts and David Price have been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox will be acquiring outfielder Alex Verdugo and pitcher Brusdar Graterol in a three-team deal that saw the Twins acquire Kenta Maeda.
This deal is a complete and total embarrassment for the Red Sox franchise and will likely result in a decrease in attendance this year. Mostly due to the tumultuous nature of this offseason, the fact that the Red Sox are STILL without a manager, and just traded the best right fielder in baseball for things that do not even measure up to the value that Betts brought.
Alex Verdugo is a 23-year-old outfielder that was blocked, until last year, from entering the Dodgers outfield even though he was major league ready. Verdugo still has 5 years of club control, and the Arizona native had a solid rookie season, although it was overshadowed by the accomplishments of fellow Dodger Cody Bellinger. Verdugo is listed as a center fielder, but will likely try to fill the shoes left by Mookie Betts in right field. Verdugo, who was picked out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, hit .294 with 12 home runs, 44 runs batted in, and posted an OPS (on base percentage plus slugging) of .817. For more advanced statistics, his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was a .309, carried a WAR (wins above replacement) of 3.1. The left handed outfielder also plays all 3 outfield positions with prowess, only making 2 errors in 756 innings. The key for Verdugo is that he is under control through the 2025 season and is young with massive potential.
Brusdar Graterol, an incredibly raw pitching prospect from the Twins, who ranks at 83 on the MLB.com prospects list, is the second and final piece that the Red Sox were able to acquire for the former MVP Betts and the former Cy Young winner Price. Graterol has only pitched 10 games in the major leagues, all in relief, and the 21-year-old posted a 4.66 ERA (earned run average), which was somewhat inflated due to his okay 1.24 WHIP. However, the Venezuela native started in the minor leagues with great success as high as AAA, and the Red Sox and general manager Chaim Bloom may be looking at Graterol as a starter. The former Twin is a serious flamethrower, regularly hitting triple digits with movement. Graterol may be best suited as a reliever because his arm may not be capable of throwing that hard for multiple innings (see Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Kopech, etc).
Despite these two pieces, this trade will inevitably be graded as a massive failure, assuming Mookie Betts does not return to Boston (considering the parameters of this deal as a cost-cutting move). The amount of talent they could have gotten for Mookie Betts versus the amount of talent that they actually did is an embarrassment not only for the Red Sox organization, but for the ownership and front office as a whole. The Dodgers being able to acquire Mookie Betts and David Price by only giving up two players is a complete STEAL, and the fact that they did not assume the full salary of David Price while doing it only makes it worse for the Red Sox. While the two players they did give up will inevitably hurt, the talent they got back far surpasses the amount they gave up. The complete and total failure on the part of the Red Sox to capitalize on the best player the team has had in decades will forever be remembered by Red Sox nation.
Even if Verdugo and Graterol are as good or better than advertised, the loss of Betts will not overcome the total failure of the Red Sox organization since its World Series Title in 2018. This fall from grace is unprecedented in the history of the Red Sox, and this is without the results of the Red Sox cheating scandal from 2018.
Add all of that together, and the Red Sox and the people of New England are likely due for a very, very long season.
To the fans of Red Sox nation: the sudden cheapness of John Henry, plus the constantly rising prices of attending Red Sox games should inspire many Red Sox fans to simply not go. The travesty of this entire situation should illuminate things in the eyes of many fans that despite the owners’ sudden cost-cutting maneuvers, they are still raising the prices of attending Red Sox games with an obvious decrease in the quality of the team.
Additionally, questions are being raised about the front office. It seems that they are much more willing to pay outside replacements than bring back their own players who they know can succeed in Boston. Signings over the years like Carl Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, and, with this trade, David Price’s contract also becomes a failure, have soured the front office’s reputation. It seems the Red Sox have no idea who to pay. Out of all of their recent big-money contracts, only two have been successful: Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez. EVERY other contract for big money has had complications or have been absolutely terrible. Jon Lester, the Red Sox longtime ace, was dealt for Yoenis Cespedes, who was gone after HALF a season for Rick Porcello, whose tenure in Boston was up and down at best, with hopes of resigning Lester in the off-season. He ultimately signed with the Chicago Cubs. Mookie Betts, who they may be looking to put in a similar situation, will not resign either.
The Red Sox have some explaining to do, and they had better get to it. Especially when their best player is gone forever.
I wish the best of luck to Mookie Betts and David Price in Los Angeles, and I will forever remember the part they played in winning the 2018 World Series. At the end of the day, that is what they ought to be remembered for.
Photo Credits: AP, Nj,com