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Mookie Betts Degrees Business: Why The Dodgers Are The Big Winners Of The Operation

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After a long winter the Los Angeles Dodgers have emerged from their slumber in emphatic fashion just in time for spring training.

On Tuesday night, the Dodgers agreed a blockbuster trade for Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo.

Considering they have won the National League West for the last seven consecutive seasons and have won over 100 games in two of the last three years, the Dodgers were hardly crying out for a superstar.

Players of Betts’ caliber, however, aren’t available very often, which explains Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman’s decision to go for broke.

The Dodgers have arguably the deepest rosters in the majors, which allowed Friedman to deal for Betts without sacrificing any of the other stars on the payroll.

After an offseason during which they were shunned by Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon, the Dodgers have landed a player who will make an already great team even better.

An offense that topped the National League in slugging and home runs last season and finished second in on-base percentage lands a player who hit .295/.391/.524 last season and has 134 home runs in the last five years.

Defensively, the Gold Glove Award winner in each of the last four years joins a team that led the MLB in defensive runs saved last season.

As part of the trade, the Dodgers have agreed to take on Price’s hefty contract which will command $96 million over the next three years and detractors will point to the fact Betts could leave Los Angeles in 12 months anyway when he becomes a free agent.

Both are valid points, but for now the Dodgers have added one of the best players in the major to an already star-studded roster. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox runs to first base during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 29, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on February 4.
Maddie Meyer/Getty

Minnesota Twins—Winners

The Twins weren’t the protagonist of the trade, but can be quietly satisfied with their haul. Minnesota landed Kenta Maeda as part of the deal, which will address the team’s relative shortage of pitching options.

Maeda started 26 games and played 37 games overall last season, pitching to a 4.04 ERA. From a financial standpoint, Minnesota has also struck gold with the trade as Maeda is under contract until the end of the 2023 season for a modest $3 million a year.

On the other hand, the Twins have had to sacrifice Brusdar Graterol, who was rated as the No. 83 overall prospect for 2020 by MLB pipeline.

Boston Red Sox—Losers

Mookie Betts played a crucial role in the Red Sox’s World Series triumph two years ago and losing a player of his calibre can’t be sugar coated, particularly given he is only 27 years old.

Last month, former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni reported on his radio show on WEEI that the Red Sox had offered Betts a 10-year extension worth $300 million after the 2018 season, only for the player to demand a deal worth $420 million over 12 seasons.

With Betts almost certain to test free agency at the end of the upcoming season, Boston opted to get what it could for its star now instead of running the risk of losing him for free.

From a financial standpoint, the trade has brought the Red Sox’s payroll below $180 million, welcome news for an organization that had exceeded the competitive balance tax threshold in the last two years as per Cot’s Contracts.

In Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol, Boston has landed a promising hitter—Verdugo hit .294/.342/.475 with a 2.2 WAR in 377 plate appearances last season—and a hard-throwing pitcher—Graterol went 1-1 in the majors last season with a 4.66 ERA in his 9 2/3 innings.

Both are good, perhaps even excellent prospects, but Boston has weakened itself in the short-term.

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