The Mookie Betts rumors are heating up, with several insiders reporting there is a strong chance Betts gets traded this Winter. The Dodgers are seen as the frontrunner, while the Padres are also in the mix.
Dodgers (and Padres) continue to show interest in Betts, and trade to 1 or other seems pretty likely at this point. LA wouldn’t include Lux or May but has many good prospects to include. Some scenarios have included David Price in deal, others have not. @ByMcCullough all over it
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 30, 2020
Eye test, analytics, whatever your preferred method of evaluation is, there’s no refuting Betts is among the best players in baseball. Acquiring him would instantly put the Dodgers from contender to favorite status, and finally give fans something to cheer about this offseason.
That being said, how much is too much for Betts’ services?
The most important thing to consider is his contract status. Betts is set to be a free agent next year, giving the Dodgers only one year of control. More importantly, his preliminary contract demands are reported to be “ridiculous”.
Lou says Mookie and the Sox have been off by $100M or more in the past 3 negotiations not including this past offseason pic.twitter.com/zfMt2n1Ske
— OMF (@OMFonWEEI) January 28, 2020
Given that Andrew Friedman has never shelled out a nine-figure contract in his tenure with the Dodgers, resigning Betts doesn’t seem too likely. However, Betts will be only 28 by season’s end, has no significant injury history, and is one of the game’s best, so an exception could be made.
Regarding the price for Betts’ services, sending out uber-prospects Gavin Lux or Dustin May would be an overpay. Andrew Friedman refused to deal either one for Felipe Vázquez or Francisco Lindor, and should keep the same mindset here. There’s no debating Betts would help the team more in 2020, but Lux and May are far too important down the line and for sustaining success. The Dodgers smartly held on to Cody Bellinger instead of moving him for Brian Dozier, kept Corey Seager instead of Cole Hamels, and should do the same here.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 30, 2020
As touched on here, a more realistic trade package for Betts would involve Alex Verdugo or Keibert Ruiz as the headliner, with supplementary pieces such as Jeter Downs, Tony Gonsolin, or Josiah Gray. Trading any of these assets would result in a hit to the Dodgers’ depth and long-term outlook, but well worth it for a seven-win player like Betts, even for just one year.
The main takeaway is surrendering Gavin Lux or Dustin May should not be an option. Friedman knows this, as we’ve seen with prior trade discussions. With them out of the picture, the Dodgers have to be all-in on Betts. Any combination of prospects after those two should be in play, as well as young major-league pieces such as Gonsolin and Verdugo. For a superstar like Betts, overpaying via prospects is virtually impossible, but Lux and May are exceptions to that rule. They must be kept at all costs.