It seems to finally be official: the Los Angeles Dodgers are acquiring Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox, with some tweaks.
It was announced on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Dodgers would be acquiring Mookie Betts and David Price in a three-team trade with the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. The Red Sox would be receiving Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers and Brusdar Graterol from the Twins and the Twins would be receiving Kenta Maeda.
A wrench was thrown in the entire process when, amidst backlash, the Red Sox reportedly did not like Graterol’s physicals, which projected him to be more of a reliever than a starter. That halted talks and required a new reconfiguration.
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That new configuration was reported on Sunday. The Dodgers would still be getting Betts and Price from the Red Sox and the Twins would still be getting Maeda. However, the Red Sox would now be getting prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong from Los Angeles and Graterol would be going to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers also sent $10 million in cash to the Twins to likely cover Maeda’s incentives but the Dodgers got the Twins’ 87th pick in return. Even better: it was reported that the Red Sox would be paying $48 million of the remaining $96 million on Price’s contract. The Angels portion of the trade also fell through, with the clear-cut reason still being unclear.
The initial trades that were going to get Betts to LA were already wonderful. Yet somehow, the Dodgers made it even better throughout this process.
Yes, the Dodgers had to give up two more prospects in Downs and Wong. Downs is the 87th-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline and Wong was in the Dodgers’ top-30.
However, Downs was already being blocked by Corey Seager, Gavin Lux and Max Muncy in the middle infield, so it would have been hard for him to find a spot. Plus, the Dodgers already got him for a steal in the Yasiel Puig trade last winter, where the Dodgers got him and Josiah Gray (who is ranked higher), who were both ranked outside the top-100 at the time.
And while the Dodgers did lose a top-100 prospect, they gained a top-100 prospect in the process! Graterol is the 57th-ranked prospect and while he projected to be a reliever, he is a HUGE addition to the Dodgers’ bullpen with his nasty velocity and filthy sinker.
Wong is a valuable asset but he is the fourth-best catcher in the Dodgers’ system. So while he is valuable, he absolutely was expendable.
The confirmation of the Red Sox paying half of Price’s contract is a massive win as well. The Dodgers are essentially paying David Price the exact same amount over three seasons as they paid Rich Hill. Price can absolutely replace what Hill brought to the Dodgers.
Plus, with this payment help, the Dodgers don’t have to trade Joc Pederson. While it probably is still in the cards, especially as the bridge may now be burnt, the Dodgers can afford to keep Pederson around.
Sure, they are projected to be $13 million over the payroll, but that is a luxury tax bill of only $2.6 million because Friedman was so persistent in freeing up salary-cap space in previous years. With nearly $80 million being freed up next winter, that $2.6 million tax is a rounding error for a billion-dollar franchise.
If they hold onto Pederson then they have an elite platoon in left field with Pederson and A.J. Pollock. If they move on from him then they can afford it from a talent standpoint.
So let’s break it down. For Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, Connor Wong, Kenta Maeda and $10 million in cash the Los Angeles Dodgers received a top-five player in Mookie Betts, a discounted David Price and a top-100 prospect flamethrower that will bolster the bullpen, all while potentially holding onto Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling.
It was already a steal for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and now, it has become a highway robbery.