I was crushed, as I'm sure many Red Sox fans were. How could you not be? Mookie has been a fan favorite for as long as we've known his name. We've seen him blossom (rather quickly) from top prospect to possibly one of the most talented Red Sox of all time. His accolades include four Gold Glove Awards, three Silver Slugger Awards, one American League batting title, one American League MVP Award and one Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award. He's been an All-Star four times, was named to the All MLB second team once, hit for the cycle once and joined the 30-30 club in 2018. I could go on about his three-homer games and his web-gems in right field while discussing his MVP voting finishes and how his statistics so far put him in rare company, but I'll just move on from all of that.
BREAKING: The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox that would send star outfielder Mookie Betts and starter David Price to the Dodgers, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Deal is pending medical reviews.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 5, 2020
Obviously, Betts endeared himself to Boston fans through all of his accomplishments and his contributions to a historic 119 win season culminating in a World Series championship. However, the biggest reason Sox fans loved Mookie was because of the way he played the game and his professionalism. No one was a better example for young fans than Mookie Betts. It sounds corny, but those are the people I'm most upset for right now. Mookie hustles and gives it his all every day while being a shining example for heart and hard work means more than size and strength. It stinks that there are so many kids being let down by a team that wants to save a buck.
As the details of the deal came out, things became more and more tough to swallow. Betts was being sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers with David Price in an effort to dump salary. I know many people didn't like Price, and he certainly had his lows here in his tenure, but he was still a pretty good starter that didn't absolutely need to be dealt with. In offloading Price, we had to give up Betts because no team would bite without him involved. Essentially, we were trying to get out from under a pitcher that we had committed too much money too and the Sox had put themselves in a position where that meant having to trade their biggest star.
Take that last paragraph in, and then wait for the kicker that I'm about to clue you in on. Are you ready? We only saved half of Price's salary! The Sox are really sending a pitcher who can still compete at an All-Star level (especially in the National League) away and not completely wiping their hands of his deal. It's insanity! Would you believe it if I told you that we're sending cash to help pay for Betts too? Well, we are. YIKES.
I'll wait for another day to dive into what Boston got back in terms of players, but for now, I'll just let you know it was comical. Outfielder Alex Verdugo is coming over from the Dodgers while right-handed pitcher Brusdar Graterol is being sent from the Minnesota Twins, the third team involved in the deal. Two players. Two players. We dealt a future Hall of Famer in his prime in order to save money, didn't save that much money, and then only received two players back. When you set out to deal with a team that has an elite farm system like the Dodgers, you'd think you'd want to maximize your return and get a haul of prospects to re-tool your farm. Nope.
There have been some heartbreaking trades in my time and I've seen beloved players leave via free agency across all of my favorite sports. This Mookie trade though, well it takes the cake because of the circumstances. Even if Betts had refused to sign back in Boston (which was a theory that Jim Rice debunked after the deal by telling MLB Network that Betts told him he "wanted to stay") the return on this one was painfully worse than even I anticipated. It'll never make sense to me and I really question the fans out there that are siding with ownership. No matter your argument, it all comes back to the fact that John Henry and company screwed up royally and should have just paid the man. There is no salary cap and they aren't hurting for money.
I need to cut myself off. I could go on and on and publish a book on this subject. I'm sure there will be much more written about this deal and how the Red Sox move forward so I'll save some for later. For now though, please don't be the guy or girl that is buying into the fact that the Sox had to trade Mookie or that it made sense in any way. Don't say "no player is worth $400 million" because that sounds dumb. Just reflect on how much joy Mookie brought you over the past half-decade. Summers in Boston won't be the same without #50 flying around the bases, and that sure is depressing.