The Red Sox have agreed to trade outfielder Mookie Betts and left-hander David Price to the Dodgers for outfielder Alex Verdugo and others, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal is pending the review of medical records and will include a third, unidentified team, according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe.
The blockbuster is a franchise-altering move for the Red Sox, who will enter spring training without their best position player and their No. 2 starter. Less than 18 months after winning the World Series, the Sox appear to be embarking on a reset with a significantly lower payroll then they had in 2019.
The trade ends a stellar six-year stint in Boston for Betts, a four-time All-Star who was the 2018 American League MVP. Originally a fifth-round pick out of Overton High School in Nashville in 2011, Betts rose from a little-known prospect to one of the best players in the league, helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2018 while winning three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers.
Betts, who will hit free agency after the season, repeatedly turned down extension offers from the Sox, taking a business-like approach in which he focused on extracting maximum value. After earning $20 million in 2019, he settled on a $27 million salary for 2020, putting the Red Sox well beyond their desired payroll limit of $208 million (the first competitive balance tax threshold).
The rationale for moving Betts is twofold for the Red Sox, who guarantee a substantial return for a player whose future was not guaranteed while trimming significant payroll as they try to sneak under the $208 million luxury tax threshold. With Betts off the books, Boston now has a much better chance of avoiding CBT-related penalties in 2020.
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