Red Sox GM: ‘Unforeseen advantage’ in trading Betts before pandemic

Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

How are the Red Sox feeling about the Mookie Betts trade now that the 2020 season is in peril?

When the Boston Red Sox decided to trade superstar Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the parameters were clear. The team was looking to reset their luxury tax obligation and were willing to forfeit his 2020 production in order to recoup assets before possibly losing him for nothing as a free agent the following offseason.

The Dodgers, on the opposite end, were looking to add an important piece to put them over the top for a World Series run that would hopefully end with their first championship since 1988. For the benefit of securing the 2018 MVP’s services in the near-term, general manager Andrew Friedman was willing to part with promising outfielder Alex Verdugo, along with two minor leaguers (Jeter Downs and Connor Wong).

This was all before the novel coronavirus upset every aspect of American life, including the 2020 baseball season, which could begin later this summer in Arizona without fans in attendance, or in the worst case scenario, it could be canceled entirely.

Red Sox general manager, Chaim Bloom, acknowledged the Red Sox potential good luck amid the unfortunate circumstances facing the country.

“Obviously at the time we made it, we definitely thought that we were prioritizing the long view and the big picture for all the reasons we said at the time,” Bloom said Wednesday on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni and Fauria show in Boston. “I cannot sit here and tell anyone I had my Nostradamus hat on enough to know that a global pandemic was around the corner. Very unforeseen advantage of perhaps taking the long view. But while it wasn’t a fun process in a sense — it’s never a fun thing to part with a player of Mookie’s caliber and a player that means as much to an organization and a fan base as he does and as I think he always will — we felt like it was the right thing for the organization at the time.”

MLB and the Players Association came to an agreement in March that would ensure players, like Betts, receive full service time in 2020, even if public health conditions force the entire season to be canceled. Since Betts needs one more year of Major League service to become eligible for free agency, this would mean the Dodgers could have traded three young pieces for the right to have Betts appear in a photoshoot at Dodger Stadium and a few games in Spring Training. He would be a free agent before the 2021 season.

Of course, the Dodgers, with their deep pockets and relatively strong luxury tax position, are poised to offer Betts a mega, long-term deal to keep him in Los Angeles. But nothing is guaranteed, as fans are learning everyday in response to the current public health crisis.