The Los Angeles Dodgers need a starting pitcher and seem to want to make a splash on the position player market. How can they do both? Execute a trade with the payroll-embattled Boston Red Sox for Mookie Betts and David Price.
According to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, the Dodgers have recently been more active in discussions with the Red Sox about acquiring Betts, and it’s possible that Price could be included in a potential trade.
This trade would be the best of both worlds for the Dodgers.
While Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor would be an upgrade over Corey Seager, Morosi notes that the Dodgers don’t want to surrender infielder Gavin Lux — which they may not have to do to acquire Betts, who would also be a blockbuster addition.
Betts is a pretty good ballplayer. He won the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player Award, is a steady, level-swinging hitter, and a vacuum in the outfield.
President Andrew Friedman and friends appear to have this fascination with acquiring a star; there’s nothing wrong with that. After winning a National League-best 106 games, blowing a 2-1 series lead, as well as a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning of Game 5 to the Washington Nationals in the NL Division Series, it’s expected that the Dodgers would swing for the fences in the offseason.
However, they’ve repeatedly whiffed on the big names.
The New York Yankees gave Gerrit Cole 324 million reasons to play for his childhood team; Anthony Rendon supposedly didn’t want to play for the Dodgers; it seems as if Stephen Strasburg always wanted to stay with the Nationals; why couldn’t the Dodgers match Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s $80 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays?
The Dodgers’ big move has been signing reliever Blake Treinen, who’s a year removed from recording an 0.78 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with the Oakland Athletics, to a one-year, $10 million deal. A rekindled Treinen would be a welcome addition to manager Dave Roberts‘ bullpen, but it’s not a move that puts the Dodger faithful at ease — though, there’s probably not a move that would.
They didn’t sign the big fish, so now they have to trade for one. Betts is one of the faces of Major League Baseball and would add to the Dodgers’ defensive versatility; he’s adept at playing both center and right field and played some second base in the earlier stages of his MLB career.
The Dodgers taking back Price would be them doing the Red Sox a favor. Looking to clear payroll, getting rid of Price’s $32 million salary for the next three seasons would be a featured benefit of Boston trading Betts, therefore, mitigating the assets Los Angeles would have to surrender. A trade could involve the Dodgers surrendering just one of Dustin May, Josiah Gray, and Jeter Downs, as well as some mid-to-lower ranked prospects.
Yes, Betts is a free agent after next season and will crash a team’s bank account, regardless of whether he produces more so like he did in 2019 (.295/.391/.524 batting line) than he did in his 2018 MVP campaign (.346/.438/.640 batting line). But the Dodgers are running out of time.
Championship windows can close as quickly as they open. A year ago the Red Sox looked like a dynasty in the making; they proceeded to miss the playoffs and are now looking to shed payroll, as previously noted. The Nationals won the World Series 10 weeks ago but lost Rendon to free agency. Who knows, they may never win the NL pennant in Strasburg’s new contract.
Picture a depth chart that includes Betts, Seager, Cody Bellinger (the 2019 NL MVP), Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, and Will Smith. Yeah, that would be wicked. You know what would be malpractice? The Los Angeles freakin’ Dodgers not taking a chance on elite talent. If they win the World Series and Betts walks in free agency, it’s worth it.
With Ryu, a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award last season, and Rich Hill signing elsewhere, Roberts is devoid of a concrete opening day starting rotation. Yes, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, and Ross Stripling have extensive starting experience, and May and Tony Gonsolin are probably ready for such a workload in the big leagues. For a team in contention on a yearly basis, the more pitching depth the better, especially with Clayton Kershaw not making 30 starts in the regular season due to injuries since 2015.
Money aside, Price is a quality starting pitcher who can help the Dodgers.
Based on how his velocity is now in the lows 90s, Price has become a pitcher of deception. He frequently throws a four seamer, changeup, sinker, and cutter. He has become a pitcher who grinds through five-to-six inning starts.
Price played a vital role in Boston’s 2018 World Series run. The southpaw surrendered just seven runs across his five appearances, four of which were starts, in the ALCS and World Series going up against the Houston Astros and Dodgers in those series. That includes him surrendering just one run across seven innings in a closeout Game 5 of the World Series in Dodger Stadium.
Pitching behind Kershaw and Walker Buehler, Price would have the high-profile pitchers to bolster his repertoire and the run support of the Dodgers’ high-octane offense to regularly pitch with a lead.
If Price were a free agent this offseason, he’d be fortunate to compile half his $32 million salary. It’s a hefty pill for the Dodgers to swallow, but with nearly every notable free agent pitcher signed, Price is arguably their best option. In the scenario he struggles or falls off a cliff, the Dodgers should be able to move his contract to another team down the road.
Acquiring Betts and Price would fill two voids for the Dodgers.