Mookie BBetts - 2019 Campaign

Tyrone Biggums

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I get the emotional reaction, but I think the difference between Mookie and Lester is that the former has been pretty open about not really wanting to sign a long-term extension. Maybe there’s a number at which he changes his mind, but if he doesn’t want to sign, there’s not a lot anyone can do about it. (To be clear: I’m not being critical of him!)

As for your “it’s a model” comment and your point about Sandoval/Hanley, let’s not criticize the current FO over the mistakes of the previous one. If anything, DD has made more of a point of extending pending FAs (like Sale and Xander) than Theo/Ben/LL ever did.
Lester wanted to stay. Mookie I'm not sold that he wants to. Because Devers emerged this team can certainly be competitive without Mookie. If you're going to lose him at the end of 2020 anyways might as well get something that can help you over the next decade. Outfielders are easy to find.
 

bosockboy

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I think the secret is not giving elite contracts to anyone, especially pitchers, because then you end up in these types of messes. I think they were right letting Lester walk. They were wrong signing Price, and probably Sale. Of course they had no choice to pay for SP because they haven't really developed any.

Lester in Chicago: 5 seasons, 150 GS, 893.0 ip, 3.48 era, 3.74 FIP, 1.216 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9. ERA+ 120
Price in Boston: 4 seasons, 102 G/97 GS, 586.0 IP, 3.85 era, 3.74 FIP, 1.205 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9. ERA+ 117

Lester's last 3 seasons as a Cub have also been considerably worse than his first 2 seasons. 3.97 ERA/4.22 FIP, 109 ERA+, 21.9% K%, 7.4% BB%, 3.4% HR%. OTOH, His K% rebounded a little this year and he's close to his lowest BB% of his career too.
Price in that same period is at 3.77/3.83/121 ERA+, 25.6% K%, 7.1% BB%, 3.2% HR%. This year, Price is at a career high 28.0% K%.

Back to Mookie, if he wants 10/360, they should trade him. There's hard to see any excess value there and breaking even would be a good outcome. A lot of his value is tied up into defense and unless you think he's going to hit at 2018 levels, I can't see him (or really any player) being worth that much.
Obviously there’s a Sox internal number where his value is higher in trade. Probably 300 million max. Anything over he probably gets moved this winter.
 

The Needler

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I'll be honest, and this isn't some next level analysis, but if the Sox trade Mookie, not wanting to pay him, after doing the same with Lester, my interest in this team will not recover for a while.

Mookie is a once in a generation player that's a near lock for 80+ career war. An inner circle hall of famer in his prime.
Andrew McCutchen was a once in a generation player who was a near lock for 80+ career WAR, too. Until he wasn’t. Father Time doesn’t understand “locks.”
 

bosox79

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Andrew McCutchen was a once in a generation player who was a near lock for 80+ career WAR, too. Until he wasn’t. Father Time doesn’t understand “locks.”
Outside of 2018, Betts sorta reminds me of another HOF, just with more power, less SB. The HR/SB totals be a product of the era though. Betts is the far superior defender but I don't think you pay anyone 10/360 to hit like Tim Raines even if they play gold glove defense in CF.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Andrew McCutchen was a once in a generation player who was a near lock for 80+ career WAR, too. Until he wasn’t. Father Time doesn’t understand “locks.”
Then there's my favorite Mookie comp, Vada Pinson. Another undersized outfielder from Tennessee who could do it all: Gold Glove defense, baserunning, hitting for average and mid-range power. He had 40 bWAR at the end of his age-26 season...and 14 after that.
 

RedOctober3829

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From Gammons' latest column

Is Mookie Betts signable before becoming a free agent after 2021? They have been scouring other systems in case. “If Mookie wants to stay in Boston, we’ll pay him,” says one Sox official. “We want him to be the face of the franchise. But it’s hard to know. He’s rejected our outreach in the past. We have to know if he’s open to signing a year before he hits free agency at the end of next season.”
 

bosockboy

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From Gammons' latest column



I’ve been wondering how much damage was caused when they went to arbitration with him. You have to demean the player somewhat to make your financial case; he might not have taken that well.
Based on the recent quotes, it doesn’t seem like they are comfortable going into 2020 unsigned. I think he’s getting moved.
 

burstnbloom

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Andrew McCutchen was a once in a generation player who was a near lock for 80+ career WAR, too. Until he wasn’t. Father Time doesn’t understand “locks.”
Your larger point is, of course, valid, but Betts is way ahead of where McCutchen was at this point in his career. Mookie began his age 26 season at 30.4 WAR. He'll end up earning another 5.5ish when this year is through. Mccutchen was at 19.8 through age 26. He broke out the next year and earned 8.2 but Betts will still outpace his total by a margin larger than mccutchens best ever season. 40 WAR is a lot to bet on from 27-whatever but mookie is one of the few decent bets for it in the league.
 

BaseballJones

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Mookie does everything well. Runs, throws, plays defense, hits for average, hits for power, is (from what little I know) a good clubhouse guy. His game isn't just based on speed or power. There's literally nothing he can't do well. And I bet he could make the switch back to 2b if he really had to. Might take a little time to get back used to the position but I bet he could do it well. I don't understand the argument some have made that his game won't age well. He's got everything it takes to be a terrific baseball player for many more years to come.
 

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I’ve been wondering how much damage was caused when they went to arbitration with him. You have to demean the player somewhat to make your financial case; he might not have taken that well.
Based on the recent quotes, it doesn’t seem like they are comfortable going into 2020 unsigned. I think he’s getting moved.
He wasn't sitting in the arbitration hearing. It's his agent's job to negotiate, and that includes all dealing with the mud thrown both ways during that process. I don't see how going to arbitration has had any effect on him at all. He's approached this as a business decision from the start, and the Sox have done the same. And both are continuing to do so. I just don't think it's a whole lot more complicated than that.
 

jon abbey

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He wasn't sitting in the arbitration hearing.
According to this, he was:

 

bosockboy

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According to this, he was:

Yes. And this was presumably why it was a bedrock principle of the Epstein era to never go to arbitration.
 

The Needler

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Your larger point is, of course, valid, but Betts is way ahead of where McCutchen was at this point in his career. Mookie began his age 26 season at 30.4 WAR. He'll end up earning another 5.5ish when this year is through. Mccutchen was at 19.8 through age 26. He broke out the next year and earned 8.2 but Betts will still outpace his total by a margin larger than mccutchens best ever season. 40 WAR is a lot to bet on from 27-whatever but mookie is one of the few decent bets for it in the league.
Yes, they don't have the same exact WAR by age. But McCutchen also didn't have one outlier season where his OPS+ was 39% higher than his next best year, and 52% higher than the simple average of the non-outlier seasons. McCutchen's WAR was also not highly dependent on outfield defense which near-universally declines (as Mookie's has done in each of the past three seasons). Note also FWIW, the career WAR difference between the two by age is much closer per fWAR.

Sorry, but I would not want any part of a bet that Mookie puts up 40 more career WAR. The odds are just not in his favor. And calling it as "near lock" is insanity.

Mookie does everything well. Runs, throws, plays defense, hits for average, hits for power, is (from what little I know) a good clubhouse guy. His game isn't just based on speed or power. There's literally nothing he can't do well. And I bet he could make the switch back to 2b if he really had to. Might take a little time to get back used to the position but I bet he could do it well. I don't understand the argument some have made that his game won't age well. He's got everything it takes to be a terrific baseball player for many more years to come.
The argument isn't that his game won't age well, it's that it will age predictably, as it has already begun to do. I have no doubt he'll be a productive player, but his defense and baserunning value have and will inevitably decline. When a large part of a player's value is baserunning and outfield defense, you can't just continue to expect him produce WAR as he did in his peak athletic years.
 

BaseballJones

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The argument isn't that his game won't age well, it's that it will age predictably, as it has already begun to do. I have no doubt he'll be a productive player, but his defense and baserunning value have and will inevitably decline. When a large part of a player's value is baserunning and outfield defense, you can't just continue to expect him produce WAR as he did in his peak athletic years.
His game has "already begun" to age? How so?
 

ZMart100

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I’ve been wondering how much damage was caused when they went to arbitration with him. You have to demean the player somewhat to make your financial case; he might not have taken that well.
Based on the recent quotes, it doesn’t seem like they are comfortable going into 2020 unsigned. I think he’s getting moved.
I don't know how you get that from the Gammons quote. It sounds to me like they are saying that as long as he is open to being re-signed, they are willing to pay. If Mookie tells the team that he doesn't want to be in Boston then they will move him. Not wanting to sign an extension is not the same thing as wanting to not play for the Red Sox. My guess is he wants to test the market and if Boston wins the bidding, he is open to playing here. I'd take the risk that Mookie is more valuable to the Red Sox than any other team, particularly with a QO on him.
 

BaseballJones

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Baserunning RAA -
2017: 9.2
2018: 6.9
2019: 3.0

Fielding RAA (fangraphs) -
2017: 21.5
2018: 16.8
2019: 8.0

dWAR (B-ref)
2017: 2.6
2018: 1.8
2019: 0.9
So you're saying he's covering less ground and running less fast? I don't put much stock in dWAR...one year they'll have a guy as a bad defender than another as a great defender; it's just too uncertain a measurement.

I don't think Trout's game has aged, even though he steals fewer bases. It's just *changing*. So is Mookie's. So I guess that could mean "aging", I suppose, but when I think of "aging" I think of "getting worse". I see it as just being a little different. Devers' game is "aging" too, technically.
 

bosockboy

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I don't know how you get that from the Gammons quote. It sounds to me like they are saying that as long as he is open to being re-signed, they are willing to pay. If Mookie tells the team that he doesn't want to be in Boston then they will move him. Not wanting to sign an extension is not the same thing as wanting to not play for the Red Sox. My guess is he wants to test the market and if Boston wins the bidding, he is open to playing here. I'd take the risk that Mookie is more valuable to the Red Sox than any other team, particularly with a QO on him.
I just meant it doesn’t sound like they are willing to go to free agency with him.

“We have to know if he’s open to signing a year before he hits free agency at the end of next season.”
 

The Needler

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So you're saying he's covering less ground and running less fast? I don't put much stock in dWAR...one year they'll have a guy as a bad defender than another as a great defender; it's just too uncertain a measurement.

I don't think Trout's game has aged, even though he steals fewer bases. It's just *changing*. So is Mookie's. So I guess that could mean "aging", I suppose, but when I think of "aging" I think of "getting worse". I see it as just being a little different. Devers' game is "aging" too, technically.
Put stock in it or don't. But the reason he won in arbitration, the reason he won the MVP, and the reason he's looking for a jackpot payday largely include contribution made to his overall WAR from those defense and baserunning metrics.
 

BaseballJones

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Put stock in it or don't. But the reason he won in arbitration, the reason he won the MVP, and the reason he's looking for a jackpot payday largely include contribution made to his overall WAR from those defense and baserunning metrics.
It includes every part of his game, including defense. You don't need to see dWAR to know that the guy us unbelievable in the outfield.
 

azsoxpatsfan

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Baserunning RAA -
2017: 9.2
2018: 6.9
2019: 3.0

Fielding RAA (fangraphs) -
2017: 21.5
2018: 16.8
2019: 8.0

dWAR (B-ref)
2017: 2.6
2018: 1.8
2019: 0.9
Wrt base running it’s hard to really say whether he’s in decline. A big part of his lower base running value is that he’s stealing fewer bases, which is something that can have lots of causes other than decline (some players steal fewer bases as they become more valuable, as its not worth the risk of injury; maybe he’s not stealing as often because the hitters immediately after him are having such incredible seasons). FanGraphs BsR is a combination of stolen bases, double plays, and UBR. Stolen base totals can change for reasons unrelated to decline, like I said, and hitting into double plays is obviously dependent on much more than just base running ability. He’s on pace for his second highest season total of UBR. I don’t think one can really claim that he’s clearly declining on the basepaths.
 

The Needler

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Wrt base running it’s hard to really say whether he’s in decline. A big part of his lower base running value is that he’s stealing fewer bases, which is something that can have lots of causes other than decline (some players steal fewer bases as they become more valuable, as its not worth the risk of injury; maybe he’s not stealing as often because the hitters immediately after him are having such incredible seasons). FanGraphs BsR is a combination of stolen bases, double plays, and UBR. Stolen base totals can change for reasons unrelated to decline, like I said, and hitting into double plays is obviously dependent on much more than just base running ability. He’s on pace for his second highest season total of UBR. I don’t think one can really claim that he’s clearly declining on the basepaths.
It doesn't really matter whether he's chosen to be less aggressive to protect himself, or whether's gotten a little slower. My point is not that he's in rapid physical decline; it's that he is providing less baserunning value--whatever the reason--and it's a three-year trend. One shouldn't just expect it to reverse itself at age 27, especially with respect to SBs.



And defense:
 
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azsoxpatsfan

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It doesn't really matter whether he's chosen to be less aggressive to protect himself, or whether's gotten a little slower. My point is not that he's in rapid physical decline; it's that he is providing less baserunning value--whatever the reason--and it's a three-year trend. One shouldn't just expect it to reverse itself at age 27, especially with respect to SBs.



And defense:
Iirc defense usually peaks in the early 20s and declines pretty steadily thereafter so I don’t doubt that you’re right about that. When signing a player long term, however, whether his lower base running value this season is due to physical decline or some intentional decision not to be as aggressive (maybe they don’t think they need him to steal as many bases or be as aggressive, and considering how good their offense is, they’d be correct) matters a lot. I’m not going to say that he’s not declining on the basepaths, because I have no idea what the typical career arc wrt base running looks, and the data clearly show he hasn’t been as valuable this season as last, or as valuable last season as the year before, but I’m also not certain that the trend is destined to hold
 

mfried

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Mookie doesn't show confidence (ie aggression) in the manner of 2018. This affects his BA, power, base running, even occasionally fielding. The guy needs a hypnotist. I don't buy the decline analysis.
 

IpswichSox

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While the idea of trading Mookie this winter has been discussed here and in the media, this is the first time I recall seeing a "Sox official" quoted, even on background, intimating that the team could trade Mookie this winter --- "we have to know..."

From Gammons in today's The Athletic:

Is Mookie Betts signable before becoming a free agent after 2021? They have been scouring other systems in case. “If Mookie wants to stay in Boston, we’ll pay him,” says one Sox official. “We want him to be the face of the franchise. But it’s hard to know. He’s rejected our outreach in the past. We have to know if he’s open to signing a year before he hits free agency at the end of next season.”
Link
 

The Needler

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While the idea of trading Mookie this winter has been discussed here and in the media, this is the first time I recall seeing a "Sox official" quoted, even on background, intimating that the team could trade Mookie this winter --- "we have to know..."

From Gammons in today's The Athletic:



Link
That’s was posted and discussed 20 posts upthread.
 

BoSox Rule

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He’s not going to get traded. There is no upside. The Red Sox are obviously going to want to compete next year, and need Mookie Betts to do that. His value to the Red Sox next year is far greater than whatever prospects he would fetch for the right to pay him around $28-30 million for one year.
 

bosockboy

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He’s not going to get traded. There is no upside. The Red Sox are obviously going to want to compete next year, and need Mookie Betts to do that. His value to the Red Sox next year is far greater than whatever prospects he would fetch for the right to pay him around $28-30 million for one year.
You don’t think we can reallocate 28-30 million?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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You don’t think we can reallocate 28-30 million?
To me, it's not about how the Sox might spend the one year savings from a hypothetical trade, it's whether there is a team out there willing to give up a worthwhile trove of prospects for one year of Mookie Betts. My guess is that to get a satisfactory return, the receiving team will want a window to extend Mookie. If he's not interested in talking extension with the Red Sox, why would he talk extension with team X, let alone sign one?

This is where I see the trade talk dead-ending.
 

Pitt the Elder

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You don’t think we can reallocate 28-30 million?
Can you allocate it more efficiently? If you assume Mookie earns 5.0 fWAR this year (he's on pace for 5.2), his 5-year average is 6.8 fWAR, which, at, $8M per WAR, is ~$55M in value. Even if Mookie puts up another 5 fWAR season, that's $40M. Can you spend $28-30M elsewhere to get 5-7 fWAR, factoring in that you now have to replace Mookie in the outfield? I'm not saying you can't, but that's probably how you have to approach the analysis for 2020.
 

The Needler

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Can you allocate it more efficiently? If you assume Mookie earns 5.0 fWAR this year (he's on pace for 5.2), his 5-year average is 6.8 fWAR, which, at, $8M per WAR, is ~$55M in value. Even if Mookie puts up another 5 fWAR season, that's $40M. Can you spend $28-30M elsewhere to get 5-7 fWAR, factoring in that you now have to replace Mookie in the outfield? I'm not saying you can't, but that's probably how you have to approach the analysis for 2020.
But you don’t trade a guy before his free agent year necessarily expecting to get a 1:1 value replacement with the guy you traded in that one year. You spread that value out over the lifetime of what you get in return + the amount saved from that year’s salary. So, say you trade Mookie for two 1.5 WAR players, locked up for 3 years at $6 million each (which is a total of a $12 million “savings” each year by the $8 million/WAR formula), you save $18 million in salary for next year, and lose two WAR. Maybe you can replace those WAR with the $18 million and fit them into the lineup, maybe not. But by year three, assuming Mookie gives you 5 WAR next year, and would have walked thereafter), you’ve gained 4 WAR + $54 million in value over what you’d have had if you kept him.
 

Pitt the Elder

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What's the expected value of even a very good prospect haul for Mookie? Even for elite prospects, the expected value is low, right, once you factor in risk and uncertainty? And what is the timetable for that value? 2023-2028 or something? If you're a bad team looking to rebuild, that makes a lot of sense, but that is not the Res Sox.

What is the incremental value of Mookie vs non-Mookie to the 2020 Sox? He could be the difference between making the wildcard vs not or winning the division vs not, not to mention how you do in the playoffs. If you think winning the WS in 2020 is possible, and you think that has enormous value to the organization, you keep Mookie for 2020 even if you think he walks.
 

The Needler

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What is the incremental value of Mookie vs non-Mookie to the 2020 Sox? He could be the difference between making the wildcard vs not or winning the division vs not, not to mention how you do in the playoffs. If you think winning the WS in 2020 is possible, and you think that has enormous value to the organization, you keep Mookie for 2020 even if you think he walks.
What's "enormous" value? 6 WAR, when you only get 5 WAR in return? What about 4.5? You're not really saying anything. Yes, every player might or might not be the difference between making the wildcard. Mookie might have been that difference this year. But he wasn't.
 

8slim

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To me, it's not about how the Sox might spend the one year savings from a hypothetical trade, it's whether there is a team out there willing to give up a worthwhile trove of prospects for one year of Mookie Betts. My guess is that to get a satisfactory return, the receiving team will want a window to extend Mookie. If he's not interested in talking extension with the Red Sox, why would he talk extension with team X, let alone sign one?

This is where I see the trade talk dead-ending.
This is the logical progression I've gone through as well. I don't see how a trade is feasible, unless Mookie has simply decided that he wants no part of continuing his career in Boston, and thus would agree to talking extension with a trade partner. I can't see into his heart, but I don't believe there is any evidence that supports that he's anti-Boston (that we're aware of, obviously).
 

Pitt the Elder

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What's "enormous" value? 6 WAR, when you only get 5 WAR in return? What about 4.5? You're not really saying anything. Yes, every player might or might not be the difference between making the wildcard. Mookie might have been that difference this year. But he wasn't.
I'm really trying to figure out how you spend that $28-30M in 2020 to reclaim that 6 WAR, taking into account who from the current roster you're displacing, including Mookie. It's not enough to simply get four 1.5 WAR guys and declaring it a wash, because those four guys need to displace someone from the roster, which means the net WAR for these guys are going to be something less than their gross value. The easy answer is to get these guys in the bullpen and the back of the rotation to displace the current dreck we have, but these guys, as cheap veteran FAs, are going to be mediocre by definition with error bars on their expected performance that might crater they're already limited value. It's also not clear to me that you *have* to trade Mookie to make the marginal improvements in 2020.

Additionally, since the roster is limited, there's an efficiency to locking up a big chunk of your WAR in one positional player, especially if it's a player like Mookie with a bankable 5-8 WAR.
 

The Needler

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I'm really trying to figure out how you spend that $28-30M in 2020 to reclaim that 6 WAR, taking into account who from the current roster you're displacing, including Mookie.
But I was asking why you think you need to “reclaim” the 6 WAR you assume you’re losing? What if it’s only 4.5 WAR you get in return? Is that really the “enormous” loss you were contemplating in the earlier post? I mean, if you’re making assumptions about Mookie based on his 3 or 5 year averages, you’re also assuming that the Red Sox will recover more than that from the other players on the roster, aren’t you? I am reluctant to offer hypotheticals because some here choose to take them as literal proposals and try to knock them down, but what if TB thought Mookie would put them over the top, and offered up Kiermaier? Is it really an enormous loss to get only 3-4 WAR out of him for a significant discount? Is it that hard to find another 2-3 WAR player for right or left when you get rid of JBJ? Nobody is irreplaceable. Maybe Trout. But almost nobody.
 

azsoxpatsfan

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But I was asking why you think you need to “reclaim” the 6 WAR you assume you’re losing? What if it’s only 4.5 WAR you get in return? Is that really the “enormous” loss you were contemplating in the earlier post? I mean, if you’re making assumptions about Mookie based on his 3 or 5 year averages, you’re also assuming that the Red Sox will recover more than that from the other players on the roster, aren’t you? I am reluctant to offer hypotheticals because some here choose to take them as literal proposals and try to knock them down, but what if TB thought Mookie would put them over the top, and offered up Kiermaier? Is it really an enormous loss to get only 3-4 WAR out of him for a significant discount? Is it that hard to find another 2-3 WAR player for right or left when you get rid of JBJ? Nobody is irreplaceable. Maybe Trout. But almost nobody.
It just doesn’t make sense why they would trade him if they couldn’t replace all his value. They have a shot at winning in 2020 and trading him makes that less likely. Even if they save money and get a player who replaces some of his production, those are both things they could get if they just let him walk
 

The Needler

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It just doesn’t make sense why they would trade him if they couldn’t replace all his value. They have a shot at winning in 2020 and trading him makes that less likely. Even if they save money and get a player who replaces some of his production, those are both things they could get if they just let him walk
I don’t see how you can say that definitively. Free agency would almost certainly require paying more for value than you could get in return for a player like Mookie. Do you think, for example that 1 year of a 6 WAR RF for 30 million is better than 2 years of a 5 WAR RF for 50 million? 40 million?
 

azsoxpatsfan

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I don’t see how you can say that definitively. Free agency would almost certainly require paying more for value than you could get in return for a player like Mookie. Do you think, for example that 1 year of a 6 WAR RF for 30 million is better than 2 years of a 5 WAR RF for 50 million? 40 million?
No I just don’t think they are going to be able to get anything that significant. I don’t see a team trading a good player with several years of control for one year of Mookie. I think the most the Sox could get (unless Mookie made clear he’d sign an extension with a team other than the Sox) would be young prospects or decent but not great players. I’d much rather they hold on to Mookie, try to win in 2020 and sign him after the season, and if he walks then spend the money coming off the books on a player to replace him.
 

The Needler

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Well, if you’re right about what they’lol be offered, then I don’t doubt they’d keep him either. But we don’t know that, and the Red Sox will listen to what’s out there. All I’m saying is that if the Red Sox don’t think they can re-sign him, and can get good, cost-controlled value in return, they almost have to be willing to deal, even if that means a short-term loss of a WAR or two next year.
 

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They could also trade Betts for some lesser players with upside and/or intriguing prospects, then flip those players for someone who can help the team in the here and now, such as when DD traded Curtis Granderson to the Yankees for Austin Jackson and a few guys who were then sent to Arizona for Dan Schlereth and a promising but struggling young righty named Max Scherzer. (Granderson wasn't in his walk year, though, so maybe not as relevant of a comparison as one might hope.)
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
5,759
They could also trade Betts for some lesser players with upside and/or intriguing prospects, then flip those players for someone who can help the team in the here and now, such as when DD traded Curtis Granderson to the Yankees for Austin Jackson and a few guys who were then sent to Arizona for Dan Schlereth and a promising but struggling young righty named Max Scherzer. (Granderson wasn't in his walk year, though, so maybe not as relevant of a comparison as one might hope.)
I don't think winning multiple trades is something you should count on in your plan for building a roster.