By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The possibility of a Mookie Betts trade has been one of the major points of discussion at the annual MLB General Managers Meetings this week, and one sense that seems to be emerging from the meetings is that the Red Sox might not get a great return for the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player.
According to Jim Bowden, the Red Sox have told teams that they will listen to offers for Betts, but the number of potential suitors might be small.
"Chaim Bloom, Boston’s new chief baseball officer (and lead decision-maker), has already told teams that he will listen to offers and consider all options for Betts. One of the problems Bloom now faces is that there are only a handful of teams that would even consider trading a significant package for a one-year rental like Betts — and even fewer teams that have enough depth in their farm system to make a proposal worth considering."
Bowden listed the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Braves as teams that could pursue Betts, but added that all those teams would likely balk at the idea of including their top prospects in a trade.
Should the Red Sox trade Betts, Bowden suggested the team could get a return similar to the Paul Goldschmidt trade last offseason. The Diamondbacks picked up pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, and Andy Young, a minor league infielder from the Cardinals for the All-Star first baseman.
"[The Diamondbacks] didn’t get a potential All-Star in the trade, but they did get three potentially solid major-leaguers. That trade is currently the best comparable as to what to expect in terms of player compensation in a Betts trade," Bowden wrote.
Weaver put up a 2.94 ERA in 12 starts before going down to injury, Kelly hit .245 with 18 home runs, and Young batted .271 and knocked 29 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
It's easy to see why Betts' contract situation could scare teams off. He is projected to make anywhere from $27 to $30 million in salary arbitration for the 2020 season and could command a contract in the $350 million range when he hits free agency at the end of next year.
MLB insider Jon Heyman reported Monday that there is "great skepticism" there will be a robust trade market for Betts. The financial commitment teams would need to make to Betts, even in the short term, could hurt the chances of Betts being moved, Heyman suggested.
While Red Sox will likely gauge the trade market for Mookie Betts this winter, there’s great skepticism any interested team will trade a package of great prospects and pay about $28M for 1 year even for a superstar such as Betts.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 12, 2019
The money is a concern for the Red Sox, too. Ownership has made it clear they want to slash payroll to get under the $208 million luxury tax payroll, meaning the team needs to cut more than $30 million from 2019. That task became more difficult when J.D. Martinez opted in to the third year of his contract, keeping his $23.75 million salary on the books for 2020.
The MLB General Managers Meetings run through Thursday and are often considered a ground-laying opportunity for executives ahead of the Winter Meetings in December, where traditionally much of baseball's offseason activity takes place.
The Winter Meetings will be held December 8-12 in San Diego.