By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Mookie Betts hasn’t been officially traded just yet.
According to a report from the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, a red flag in the medical records of pitcher Brusdar Graderol (who is scheduled to move from the Twins to the Red Sox) has given Boston’s front office pause and put the deal on hold.
According to Rosenthal’s report, something in Graterol’s records meant the Red Sox “projected him more as a reliever than as a starter,” and as a result “the Sox might ask for an additional player and/or money to bridge the gap, though it is unclear whether the player would come from the Twins or Dodgers.” Not a great start for Chaim Bloom, who is making his first major trade since being named chief baseball officer for the Red Sox back in October.
Graterol has been a starter throughout his rise in the Twins system, but according to Rosenthal “the Twins viewed him as a future reliever, and the Red Sox evidently agree that he is not suited for a 150- to 170-inning workload, at least not right away.” While the Red Sox may have seen themselves acquiring a future starting pitcher in this deal, it appears the doctors have told them otherwise.
Even before this news, injury concerns were the biggest concern in an otherwise stellar scouting report of the 6-foot-1, 265-pound righty. Graterol missed the entire 2016 season and half of 2017 due to an elbow injury. He also missed two months last summer with a shoulder issue, although was able to get healthy enough to make his MLB debut in September.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory the Red Sox have attempted to trade for a pitcher with arm issues. At the 2016 trade deadline, then-Sox GM Dave Dombrowski dealt high-ranked prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz. It was later revealed that the Padres had withheld medical information regarding treatment Pomeranz had been receiving on his elbow. When given the chance to reverse the trade, the Red Sox opted not to.
The team also acquired relief pitchers Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg by trading away prospects in the 2015 offseason (again orchestrated by Dombrowski). Both had a noted history of physical issues with their throwing arms, which did not disappear upon arriving in Boston. Smith and Thornburg only threw a combined 66.1 innings over five combined seasons as members of the Red Sox.
Then of course, there is Chris Sale. Dombrowski gave up a number of the team’s top prospects, including Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, to get Sale from the Chicago White Sox in 2016. Sale’s unorthodox delivery led many to worry about how long he would last as a starter in the majors. Although is first two seasons went as well as one could expect, 2019 proved to be a rough one after he signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension during Spring Training. Sale’s numbers drastically worsened, and he was shut down by the team in August with an undisclosed elbow injury. While it was ultimately determined he would not need Tommy John, the status of his elbow ranks among the top ‘what ifs’ as the Red Sox enter the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, the other player the Red Sox are set to acquire in the Betts trade, outfielder Alex Verdugo, also has an injury history. Most recently, he suffered from a back issue that held him out the final two months of last season. While that may sound worrying to Red Sox fans, Rosenthal stated in his report that Verdugo has been “cleared physically”.
The full deal, which involves ten players moving between four teams (Red Sox, Dodgers, Twins, Angels) has been put on hold according to Rosenthal. “None of the players had been formally notified as of midnight Wednesday, because the deal was not yet official,” according to his report.
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 or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.