Here is a fact for you: The Red Sox currently have Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and more. Those are all players that play for the Boston Red Sox. That is good.
They also have Mookie Betts. That is a very good thing.
Which is why it is so mind numbingly insane that they are considering trading (read: probably going to trade) him. I don’t need to tell you why the MVP, World Series Champion, 4 time gold glove winning, 3 time silver slugger winning, 27 year old is the 2nd best position player in baseball behind Mike Trout. He is on the Red Sox. That’s super cool. You draft, sign, develop every player with the hopes of him becoming Mookie Betts, and once in a lifetime, it actually happens. So when the time comes to pay the guy, you’re going to defer and let someone else do it?
Nope. That’s not how this should work. Not when you’re the Boston Red Sox with an unlimited supply of money for all intents and purposes. I understand the argument for trading him – it’s obvious. He’s in the last year of his contract and has given every indication that he’s going to free agency no matter what, as it’s his right. Instead of keeping him and potentially risk losing him for nothing, you get assets for him now. I get how it works.
But there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be doing everything humanly possible to make this generational athlete a Boston Red Sox player for life. By trading him, it’s over. There’s no re-signing him in the winter, it’s not happening. By keeping him, you risk losing him for nothing but a compensatory 4th round draft pick. It’s a tough situation, for sure. But the latter gives you a chance to keep Mookie Betts in Boston for life. It’s the possibility of being able to re-sign him that carries immense value, that is being undervalued in this whole situation.
You know what else has value? Winning. It’s the whole point of the thing. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out in 2019, but there’s no taking away that this is a potent team when healthy that can be a contender in the AL. Trading Mookie Betts wipes away pretty much any chance at contending in 2020. Keeping Mookie Betts on your team in 2020: valuable! Worst case scenario, the team is good and you keep him through a postseason run! What a nightmarish scenario! How dare the team be good?
By keeping Mookie in 2020, the Red Sox also get more of a chance to prove to him (or disprove for that matter) that Boston is the place to stay. A good run in 2020 can show Mookie that this is going to be a contending team for years to come, and he’s the key piece to it. They’re still going to have to pay him of course, he’s evidently not taking a hometown discount, but it can’t hurt. On the other end of the spectrum, if the team is struggling for the second straight year at the deadline, then deal him and get assets for him then, he’s not going to be happy playing for a mediocre team anyway. The package will likely be smaller, but not significantly. Team performance isn’t the main factor, but it is a factor. The trade deadline seems like the time to make this decision, when the season’s fate is much less of a question mark than it is here today on January 31st.
None of this is Mookie Betts’ fault. He has every right to go to free agency and get paid top dollar. To this point, it’s not on the Red Sox ownership for not having paid him and having him locked up at this point. His free agency is inevitable. However, next winter, there is absolutely no reason in the world why the Red Sox shouldn’t be outbidding every other team. He’s yours. You drafted him, developed him, made him the face of your franchise, and a key figure in Boston. Mookie has said multiple times that he loves it here (usually followed by “but it’s a business,” but nonetheless), he’s familiar with it here, his young family is here. He won a World Series here. I promise you he doesn’t dislike playing for the Red Sox and is dying to get out of this place.
Trading him ends all possibility of that him staying, and when you have the resources that the Boston Red Sox do, there is absolutely no excuse to let a top 3 player in all of baseball go somewhere else. Not a chance.
Especially if you do it voluntarily, which is what trading him is doing. It’s pretty much unforgivable.
So to bring this directionless rant full circle, the Red Sox currently have Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and more. Those are all players that play for the Boston Red Sox. That is good.
SO HOW ARE YOU TRADING YOUR BEST PLAYER WHEN YOUR TEAM IS ALREADY THIS GOOD? This is the part I cannot get my mind around. This is a core that teams would kill to have. With a core this young and good, how are you not doing everything in your power to win baseball games? To win the World Series? Isn’t that the point of this whole sports thing?
So Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox have a question to answer. What is more valuable? Winning in 2020 with Mookie Betts and having the opportunity to re-sign him this winter? Or Alex Verdugo and/or whatever prospects the Dodgers or Padres are going to throw at you?
I know my answer. It’s the one that gives you a chance to keep Mookie Betts in a Red Sox uniform for the rest of his career, no matter how large or small that chance is, which should be relatively high considering the financial resources the Red Sox have.
I am very upset. I can’t believe this is actually happening.
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