In his latest notes column for The Athletic, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal pointed out that rival executives across baseball believe that if the Red Sox were to trade Mookie Betts this offseason, they would fail to get a significant package of prospects or major-league ready players in return due to the fact that the star outfielder only has one year of team control left.
Betts, who turned 27 last month, is projected to earn around $28 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time in 2020.
This fact has led many to believe that the Sox, under the leadership of new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, will deal Betts if the two sides are unable to agree to a long-term contract extension, which seems next to impossible at this point since Betts seems locked in on testing the open market next winter.
As Rosenthal opines, “teams still should be tempted to give up top prospects for Betts, even if only for one year.” However, if opposing clubs are not willing to part ways with their valuable assets, the Red Sox may be better off waiting until the trade deadline to decide on trading Betts or not.
That way, Betts will still be a part of the Sox’ roster going into next season, which ultimately gives them the best chance to remain competitive. And if it turns out that Boston struggles out of the gate in 2020 and finds themselves in a place where they won’t be competing for a postseason spot come July, they can deal him then, when teams in desperate need of an outfielder and impact bat don’t have the option of turning to free agency to find a viable option.
“Under such a scenario, the Sox could continue their efforts to sign Betts,” says Rosenthal. “Possibly clearing money for 2020 and beyond by trading one of their high-priced starting pitchers.”
In addition to Betts being on the trade block, the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale may be made available as well, as the trio or set to earn a combined $73.5 million in 2020.
At the end of the day, this comes down to what Betts wants, and regardless of whether or not you believe he likes playing in Boston or not, the Tennessee native’s top priority does appear to be testing free agency waters.
“Even if they concluded that Betts simply prefers to become a free agent,” Rosenthal said. “The return at the deadline might not be much less than what it would be this offseason.”
If this were to be the route taken, the Red Sox would be able to keep Best, the best corner outfielder in baseball, to at least begin the 2020 campaign as they look to get back to being competitive.