The Boston Red Sox agreed to trade former American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday in a three-team blockbuster, sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports.
Left-handed starting pitcher David Price, a former Cy Young winner, will also join the Dodgers in the deal, which is pending medical reviews. In return for Betts and Price — heroes of the 2018 World Series champion team — the Red Sox will receive young outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol from the Minnesota Twins. Veteran right-hander Kenta Maeda will move from the Dodgers to the Twins.
The Red Sox are expected to pay a little more than half of Price’s remaining $96 million over three years.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported the agreement.
In an another twist, the Dodgers reportedly have a deal in place to send outfielder Joc Pederson to the Los Angeles Angels if the Betts trade is finalized, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Infielder Luis Rengifo would go back to the Dodgers.
Boston sheds salary — and an MVP
The blockbuster trade comes after months of speculation. Boston entered the offseason seemingly intent on shedding payroll to get under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Once J.D. Martinez opted to stick with the remaining three years and $62.5 million of his contract, rumors that Betts — who will be a free agent following the 2020 season — would be traded immediately picked up steam.
Those rumors heated up and cooled off several times over the last three months. Tuesday night, it all became reality.
Betts, 27, has been the clear second-best player in the sport over the past five years. His 39.7 WAR trails only Mike Trout in that time and stands almost 9 WAR clear of the next position player. The 2018 AL MVP avoided the arbitration process by agreeing to a $27 million salary for 2020 that was record-setting for players under team control, but 16 players are still set to make more than Betts this season.
Price, a 5-time All-Star who won the AL Cy Young Award in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Rays, signed a seven-year, $217 million deal with Boston prior to the 2016 season. He compiled a 3.84 ERA over four sometimes rocky seasons with the Red Sox, but conquered postseason demons by winning two games and posting a 1.98 ERA in the 2018 World Series against his new team.
Dodgers add Betts after quiet offseason
The Dodgers were one of two teams consistently connected to Boston in trade talks. The other was the San Diego Padres. Los Angeles always felt like the favorite though because the players it could reasonably offer seemed to match Boston’s needs. It was also difficult to believe the Dodgers would miss out on yet another impact player — especially when directly battling a division rival. Top Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman also, notably, worked alongside new Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom during their tenures with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Despite connections to nearly every top free agent and reported discussions with the Cleveland Indians regarding All-World shortstop Francisco Lindor, the Dodgers’ top addition prior to Betts was reliever Blake Treinen. Getting Betts changes the tone of an otherwise stagnant offseason.
It also enhances what was already one of the MLB's best lineups. Betts, 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and Max Muncy will be a daunting challenge for opposing pitchers.
Price will slot into a rotation that was already crowded, replacing Maeda and perhaps pushing younger arms such as Julio Urias, Ross Stripling and Dustin May into part- or full-time bullpen duty.
The question now is whether the trade will pay off for Los Angeles in the long run. With Betts headed for free agency after the 2020 season, it's possible his Dodgers tenure will be a one-and-done. Most will agree it's worth it if Los Angeles finally gets over the World Series hump. If not, it could be the centerpiece in a long stretch of disappointments.
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