Mookie Betts walks through a Fenway Park tunnel after scoring the winning run in the final Red Sox game of 2019. Photo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
The Red Sox and Dodgers have agreed to a blockbuster deal that will send former MVP Mookie Betts and veteran (and extremely expensive) starter David Price to Los Angeles for a package that includes promising young outfielder Alex Verdugo, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports.
The state of play: The trade also includes the Twins, who will send pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox and, in turn, receive starter Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers.
By the numbers: Since the start of the 2016 season, Betts' 33.8 WAR (wins above replacement) is second to only Mike Trout's 35.5, and he leads all players with 98 defensive runs saved — 13 more than second-place Andrelton Simmons.
Why it matters: This move instantly makes the Dodgers super contenders and puts arguably the two best players in the world in the same market. It also serves as a stark reminder that the baseball world is increasingly dictated by teams' desire to stay under the luxury-tax threshold.
How it works: Each season, clubs that exceed a predetermined threshold ($206 million last year, $208 million this year) must pay a "luxury tax" on each dollar spent above that threshold, and repeat "offenders" see their tax rates increase exponentially.
- As three-time offenders, Boston was looking at an aggressive tax rate, so they traded away the epitome of a franchise player to avoid paying it.
- The Yankees and Dodgers have hit the reset tax button themselves in recent years, paving the way for them to sign the two best players to change teams this offseason: Gerrit Cole and now Betts.
What they're saying: ESPN's Bill Barnwell sums up the frustration that I imagine most Red Sox fans feel at the moment — and that all fans feel when the team they love prioritizes profits over winning:
"Paraphrasing but after the A's traded Rickey Henderson, Bill James wrote something like 'The whole point of having a team is to get a Rickey Henderson and keep him for as long as possible.' That's the first thing that came to mind about the Mookie Betts trade."