By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
While the consensus remains the Red Sox won’t trade Mookie Betts before the start of the MLB season, the team is still exploring the market for the former AL MVP.
Per Dennis Lin of the Athletic, the Red Sox and Padres have recently had discussions about a deal that would send Betts to San Diego for a package of both prospects and MLB-level talent. According to Lin, the deal is ‘unlikely’ at the moment, but the talks remain relevant as the Sox aim to get under the luxury tax to avoid draft pick penalties.
Highlighting the potential return for Boston is 29-year-old outfielder Wil Myers. The 2013 AL Rookie of the Year hit .239 last season with 18 home runs and 53 RBIs. It was a relatively down year for Myers (the batting average is a career-low for a season in which Myers played at least 90 games), who hit 28 and 30 home runs in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Trading for a major league player may seem counterproductive to getting under the luxury tax, but due to intricacies in Myers contract, a deal would end up saving the Red Sox more than $13 million against the tax, despite only trimming $4.5 million in actual payroll. Plus, Myers is under contract for the next three seasons, bringing some stability to a team about to go through some significant changes.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom may also have a soft spot for Myers. In 2012, as the Director of Baseball Operations for the Tampa Bay Rays, Bloom acquired Myers as a prospect in a seven-player trade that sent James Shields to the Kansas City Royals.
Speaking of prospects, no players were specified in Lin’s report, but it should take more than one to get Betts away from the Red Sox, and the Padres have the ammunition to pull such a deal off, with five players in the MLB.com Top 100. That includes left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore, who is the top-ranked pitcher and fourth overall prospect according to the MLB.com list. The third overall pick in 2017, Gore had a 1.69 ERA last season in 20 starts between the Single-A and Double-AA levels.
Another name to keep an eye on is pitcher Luis Patino. The 20-year-old right-hander is the 30th ranked prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. In 2019, Patino pitched in 20 games between Single-A and Double-AA, posting a 2.57 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and striking out 123 batters in 94.2 innings. The performance earned him a spot in the Futures Game, where he drew the attention of Pedro Martinez, who is employed by the Red Sox as a special assistant. At the time, Pedro called Patino “the best young pitcher in the game”.
After the Futures Game last July, Pedro Martinez said he thought Luis Patino was the best young pitcher in the game, and knew Patino as a teenager. To get Mookie Betts and lose Wil Myers' money, it's hard to imagine a deal w/out Patino. Hard to imagine a deal, period.
The Padres other top prospects include center fielder Taylor Trammell (ranked 28th overall), shortstop CJ Abrams (45th), and catcher Luis Campusano (86th).
While the hot stove remains cold for now, the Red Sox still need to make a decision regarding Betts relatively soon, or they risk losing him for nothing at the end of the 2020 season.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth