The Boston Red Sox have traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a three-way deal with the Minnesota Twins.
The Red Sox are sending Betts and starting pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a deal first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Los Angeles will reportedly send Alex Verdugo to Boston and pitcher Kenta Maeda to the Minnesota Twins, with the Twins passing along pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to Boston.
In a separate but related move, the Dodgers are trading outfielder Joc Pederson to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo, according to Passan. That move presumably opens up space in the Dodgers’ outfield for Betts.
Chaim Bloom took over the Red Sox front office in October and immediately confronted a bloated payroll, or at least an ownership that didn’t want to pay it anymore. The team was about to go into the 2020 season more than $25 million over the luxury tax threshold. The 27-year-old Betts, a four-time All-Star who led Boston to the World Series title in 2018, is a casualty of their cap concerns. Betts is due to earn $27 million this season before becoming a free agent.
Betts won the American League MVP Award in 2018 after leading the league with a .346 batting average, 32 home runs and a 1.078 OPS. He fell back to a .295 average and 29 homers in 2019 as the Red Sox dropped from a franchise-record 108 wins to 84.
Left-hander Price, a five-time All-Star and former AL Cy Young Award winner, has spent the last four seasons in Boston after signing as a free agent before 2016. His time with the Red Sox has been plagued by injuries and he was limited to just 22 starts and 107 innings a season ago. He went 46-24 in a Red Sox uniform with a 3.84 ERA. Price is owed $96 million over the last three years of his deal.
The Dodgers are the beneficiaries of the Red Sox struggles to stay under the luxury tax. Winners of 106 games in 2019, they now add one of the premier outfielders in baseball to their lineup and a star pitcher to their rotation that already led the league in ERA last season.
Betts will be paired in the Dodgers outfield with another MVP, Cody Bellinger, and together they will form the best outfield tandem in baseball; Bellinger and Betts led all right-fielders in defensive runs saved last season.
Verdugo, a 23-year-old outfielder, is entering his second full season in the big leagues after only sporadic appearances in both 2017 and 2018. In 106 games last season, he hit .294 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 377 plate appearances.
The loss of their star hitter and pitching ace continues a tumultuous offseason for the Red Sox franchise. Manager Alex Cora was implicated in the Astros sign-stealing scandal and, facing a lengthy suspension from the league, was fired in January. The Red Sox are still without a manager, less than two weeks before the start of spring training.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, didn’t need to get better; they’ve won the NL West title seven years in a row and made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2017 and 2018, losing to the Red Sox in the latter of those two years. But they did it on Tuesday, all but ensuring that, for another season at least, the road to the Fall Classic in the National League will run through Chavez Ravine.