Don’t be fooled, the Red Sox could have done better. I’m not talking about a better return for all star outfielder Mookie Betts. They could have done better as a franchise, to keep Mookie Betts, sign him to a market deal he deserves, and cement him as the centerpiece of the team for years to come.
Instead, John Henry and the Boston front-office decided to trade a generational talent, a player that every fan wishes was on their team, for prospects that are extremely unlikely to turn into a player half as strong as Mookie.
The false narrative says that Betts did not want to stay in Boston, and that the Red Sox wanted to extract maximum value for him. That Mookie forced ownership’s hand,and the team had to trade him before the last year of his contract. They state that on its face, this is a baseball decision to make the team better in the long-run.
If Mike Trout didn’t exist, Mookie Betts would be the best player on the planet. He’s the type of player a team dreams of drafting and developing as a franchise star. The fact that Mookie Betts desires and deserves a market-rate upon reaching free agency should be commonly understood and accepted.
At just 27 years old, Betts is in his absolute prime, and to date, his career earnings pale in comparison to players significantly less talented than him. Betts’ career earnings total $32 million, which to us average guys, is huge, but comparatively to his peers, is actually quite low. Boston has paid him $32 million for 37 wins over the last six years. Compared to his contemporaries, Betts provided insane value to Boston, and now that he is at the eve of him earning a market-rate, Boston declines to even seriously consider making an offer.
To make matters even worse, the Red Sox in 2019 were expected to be competitive, and projected for a playoff berth. Even heading into 2020, prior to the Betts trade, Boston was projected to be right in the thick of things in the AL East and American League in general. This is not a team that needs to entirely rebuild, it’s a team that won the World Series just two seasons ago with largely the same personnel.
The 2019 Red Sox won 84 games, which is hardly a disaster. They were 23-22 in one-run games, but were an abysmal 12-26 against the Yankees and Rays. Those intra-divisional series right there were the difference between a wild card berth, and missing the playoffs. Rather than trying to lift the team up to the level of their divisional rivals (one of whom is cheap as hell), Boston has retreated, opting to become a less-talented, and less relevant team in the American League in 2020.
This trade is an insult to any fan that spends their time watching a team that can be competitive, and should be competitive. It’s an insult to fans who save their hard-earned money to go to games, and expect the organization to put out the best product on the field, come-what-may in the future.
I hope and expect that Mookie gets paid. I hope he sets a record for the most money ever. He deserves it. And the Red Sox deserve to miss the playoffs in 2020 and beyond. It rarely happens that a competitive team trades away a franchise player, and it makes fans question why they put any emotional effort into rooting for a team at all. Ownership is rooting for additional profits while fans root for wins, it’s that simple. Often times, those motivations align, and everyone is happy, but when they don’t, it really sucks, and while no one is crying for Red Sox fans, overall, it makes the sport worse.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano