With the dust still settling from the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts from one coast of the USA to the other, it seems like the deal was a win-win-win-win-win-win for six teams. Is that even possible?
The big winners were the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not only did they get the elite talent of Mookie Betts in their outfield for the season, but they did so without giving up prized prospects Dustin May or Gavin Lux. With Cody Bellinger patrolling centre field, the Dodgers’ outfield will now feature two of the five best hitters in the game.
No-one knows what David Price will offer the Dodgers. He made 22 starts with 10.7 K/9 last year, but Fangraphs projects the left-hander to make 27 starts with 4.00 ERA, which is significantly better than projected for Kenta Maeda, who was flipped to Minnesota. Win for the Dodgers
We know the Minnesota Twins can hit. They broke the single-season home run record last year and just added former-MVP Josh Donaldson. By trading for Maeda, they have solidified their rotation with another veteran arm, increasing the likelihood of retaining the AL Central ahead of the payroll-slashing Indians. Giving up highly-touted prospect Brusdar Graterol and his 103mph fastball, the Twins signalled their belief that the 21-year-old will not be a big-league starter this season. Win for the Twins.
Another team better off after the Betts trade is the Los Angeles Angels who benefited from the surplus in the Dodgers’ outfield and swung a deal to send infielder Luis Rengifo in exchange for Joc Pederson. The Angels now have a second left-handed, power-hitter to join Shohei Ohtani in a lineup that no pitcher will want to face. Pederson replaces Michael Hermosillo in right field and offers genuine 40-homer power; not bad considering he can’t hit lefties. Win for the Angels.
I like Rengifo (partly because he’s on my fantasy baseball dynasty team) as he has speed, gets on-base and is only 22 years old, but he was unlikely to make the same impact in 2020 as Pederson.
Although they appear to have thrown in the towel on the 2020 season, the Boston Red Sox obviously think they are winners in the deal. In fact, @JoelFourBases argues the Red Sox won the deal by a landslide. 23-year-old Alex Verdugo will slot into Betts’ right field position and is under team control for five years. The absence of Price leaves a hole in the rotation but rids the franchise of the remaining three years of his contract. Sure, it frees up cash to acquire free agents in 2021 and beyond, but this is one of the biggest sports franchises in the world. Win for the Red Sox.
To some analysts, the move almost gifts the AL East to the New York Yankees. On the back of a 103-win season, they added Gerrit Cole and have seen the best player in the division move to the NL. It’s possible the Yankees next encounter with Betts will be in the World Series. Win for the Yankees.
Another team pleased that they will not have to face the former MVP 19 times this season is the Tampa Bay Rays. Beaten by the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the ALDS, the Rays’ chances of at least a Wild Card spot increased with the Betts trade. The outfielder loved playing against the Rays, as shown by his .892 OPS. Win for the Rays.
Photo courtesy of Alex Trautwig/MLB, Billy Weiss/Red Sox via Getty Images
Gavin is one of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @_tramps
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Am I happy we lost Betts. No. But if you compare the slash lines for Betts’ first full season and Verdugo’s first full season last year…
He not Betts as Betts is now, but he’s still developing…