There are all kinds of trade rumors going around about the Dodgers trying to trade for Mookie Betts. Many of the rumors have the name of David Price in them as the Red Sox aim to shed salary. Of course, the prospect cost for Betts would go down if Price were included in the trade.
At this moment the Red Sox are a mess with cheating penalties hanging over their head. As repeat offenders their penalties could be worse than the Astr*s received.
#SpringTraining starts next week. Here's how the Red Sox are looking…
• no manager
• a roster full of aging players
• 3rd worst farm in baseball
• no trade partners for Mookie
• no more money to spend
• penalties pending for cheating in '18
• a fan base swimming in salt
— Dan (@DanClarkSports) February 1, 2020
As of Sunday, the Red Sox are $19M over the first luxury tax threshold. If the Red Sox trade Betts to the Dodgers for just minimum wage players then they get under the luxury tax for 2020. If David Price is involved then some other contracts on the Dodgers can be absorbed by the Red Sox. However, why not make a play to make the playoff rotation stronger?
Price could be good but Chris Sale would be a better target. This article will look at going after Sale instead of Price.
I wonder if the Dodgers and Red Sox have spoken about Chris Sale. I’d take the risk on him without taking any extra money instead of Price. Betts and Sale and it’s not my money.
— Tim Rogers *??- SDDODGER (@SDDodger) January 31, 2020
Why Chris Sale?
Chris Sale has been an excellent pitcher for most of his career but struggled in 2019. The season started with the Red Sox slow-playing some the their pitchers including Sale. He had elbow soreness most of the season yet the Red Sox had him throw 100 or more pitches in 15 of his starts. Sale was shutdown in early August with elbow inflammation. He ended the season with a career worst 4.47 ERA but still struck out 218 batters in 147.1 innings pitched.
#Top10RightNow SP is now airing, and what a mess this is to pick each year.
#1/2 felt easy, and 3-5 (in any order) were too. Then a tremendous grab bag of talent. 15 more guys I wanted to include.
Just missed: Bieber, Greinke, Ryu, Castillo, and a dozen others pic.twitter.com/yMbzcTVBCD
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) February 2, 2020
There are concerns that Sale’s best days are behind him but I’m confident he can still be big-time pitcher again. His velocity went from a career high average of 94.7 MPH on his fastball in 2018 down to 93.2 in 2019. Obviously, his elbow issues didn’t help his velocity. He has a little over 1600 innings pitched for his career and his build has concerned more than a few baseball people.
Some reasons I think he could still be a big-time pitcher and why this Dodgers could need him:
- 147.1 IP with just 123 hits and 218 Ks in 2019
- His 2018 ERA was 2.11 with 237 Ks and 102 hits in 158 IPs
- The Dodgers have a ton of starting pitching depth to limit Sale’s innings until the playoffs
- He could be the co-ace the Dodgers need in the playoffs – imagine a healthy Sale paired up with Buehler
- What other pitchers with Sale’s upside are available via trade this season?
Isn’t Price A Good Option?
I think David Price could fill a roll with the Dodgers but I don’t think he has near the upside of Chris Sale. Price has an average annual value (AAV) of $31M for the three years for a total of $93M. Sale’s contract is 5 years long with an AAV at $25.6M so the difference just in AAV alone is $5.4M less for the first 3 years. When it comes to Price the Dodgers would need to give up less talent than they’d need to give up for Sale.
Performance wise, Price is still pretty good but his velocity has gone from 94.3 MPH in 2017 down to 92 MPH in 2019. He still has about 8 MPH between his fastball and changeup. Below is a table of the last year years of both pitchers’ xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching):
What Would It Take To Get Sale?
I believe the Dodgers would need to include a pitcher with a lot of upside. I think it needs to start with Julio Urías. The Dodgers rotation would again be left-handed heavy with Chris Sale so keeping Dustin May is important for the future. A playoff rotation that has a top 3 of Buehler, Sale and Kershaw with the option of Dustin May or Alex Wood for the 4th spot could be elite.
So far I have not included Mookie Betts in any talk yet. Personally, I just go after Sale with Urías as the starting point. If Betts is still the target then the Dodgers would be taking on $52.6M in salary if they don’t get any money back in the trade. If Sale is involved instead of Price then the Dodgers should not count on any money coming back. A trade of Urías, two more strong prospects and one non-minimum wage Major Leaguer plus a wild card or two might get it done. For just Sale it’s Urías and one strong prospect.
I believe that Mookie Betts would be an upgrade as he is a great player. My concern is he could be implicated in the cheating scandal and may have benefited greatly. At least, they are saying the Red Sox only cheated during the regular season and not the playoffs. Still, a player implicated in cheating having to face the Dodgers players doesn’t sound very good to me. Chris Sale, a pitcher, might not be as big of an issue.
Chris Sale: KKKKKKKKKKKKK pic.twitter.com/tmT70XNJKC
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 9, 2019
After watching a lot of the 2019 playoffs i am convinced the Dodgers starting pitching staff is built for the regular season but not the playoffs. Some pitchers will be on an innings limit and it seems the staff is built for the 2021 playoffs. Chris Sale makes their playoff rotation, given the risks, possibly elite.
I want to see the Dodgers just trade for Sale which would allow the Red Sox to get under the luxury tax threshold without giving up Mookie Betts. Getting Sale could be their best chance at getting an ace-type pitcher in 2020. He makes the playoff rotation much stronger. What are your thoughts on the Dodgers/Red Sox trade rumors? What do you want to see happen?