With Mookie Betts entering the final year of his contract in 2020, the '18 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner will be the focus of plenty of trade talks this offseason.
Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 27-year-old outfielder.
Dodgers, Red Sox involved in Mookie blockbuster
Feb. 4: Betts appears to be on his way to L.A.
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Red Sox and Dodgers have agreed to a trade that will send both Betts and starter David Price to Los Angeles. The deal is pending the successful completion of physicals for each player. ESPN's Jeff Passan was first to report the news.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that the Dodgers are trading right-hander Kenta Maeda to the Twins in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol (Twins' No. 3 prospect, MLB's No. 83 overall per MLB Pipeline), who will then be traded to Boston as part of the Red Sox's return for Betts. Outfielder Alex Verdugo is also reportedly a centerpiece for Boston's return in the trade.
Price is owed $96 million over the next three years, and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers are expected to pay about half of that salary.
And the plot thickens again: Passan reports that the Dodgers are also sending former All-Star outfielder Joc Pederson to the crosstown rival Angels in exchange for infielder Luis Rengifo as part of a separate trade -- possibly to clear room in the Dodgers' outfield for Betts.
Betts trade talks could reach resolution soon
Feb. 3: The Betts situation may be heading toward a breaking point. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal said Monday on the network's "Hot Stove" program that he wouldn't be surprised if a trade went down in the next day or two. The Dodgers and Padres are believed to be the only two teams involved at this point.
"This is going to happen," Rosenthal said. "Mookie Betts is getting traded. The only question is when and where."
Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported something similar on Sunday, writing that the Red Sox could make a decision on their superstar right fielder "within the next few days." Per Speier, Boston has continued to discuss potential trades with both the Dodgers and the Padres, and the talks have reached "a relatively advanced stage," though the Sox haven't asked either team for its last and best offer.
According to Rosenthal, there seems to be a good amount of momentum building for the Dodgers, because of Los Angeles' ability to make a "cleaner" trade that only involves Betts being moved for young talent. The Padres' discussions with the Red Sox have included Wil Myers, who is owed $61 million over the next three seasons, and the two sides reportedly haven't been able to agree on how much of that money Boston would assume in a trade.
On Sunday afternoon, Peter Gammons of The Athletic noted in a tweet that three different sources from the National League have told him that a deal sending Betts to the Dodgers seems to be "inevitable."
Gammons went so far as to paint a picture of what the deal may look like: highly touted outfielder Alex Verdugo and shortstop Jeter Downs, the club's No. 5 prospect and No. 87 in baseball, might make up the foundation pieces. An additional player may need to be included, and Gammons theorized that could be 23-year-old lefty Caleb Ferguson, a former 38th-round Draft pick who has a 4.13 ERA in 75 big league games.
The latest on trade talks involving Betts
Feb. 1: It's officially February, and Betts is still a member of the Red Sox. But for how much longer?
Alex Speier of the Boston Globe wrote Thursday that a deal involving Betts is "likelier than not" and could happen in the "very near future," while ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the Red Sox are looking to get this resolved before Spring Training to avoid having questions about the outfielder's future hanging over the club. Per Olney, Boston has repeatedly tried to sign Betts to a contract extension, but it hasn't been successful.
According to multiple reports, the Dodgers and Padres are the only serious suitors at this point. But there are still some gaps that need to be bridged before a trade is completed with either club.
More details have emerged in the past few days about the nature of Los Angeles' discussions with Boston. Olney reports that the Dodgers and Red Sox have talked about some potential Betts trades that involve David Price, and some that don't.
A Betts trade that includes the left-hander almost assuredly would not provide Boston with the same level of young talent as one without him, even if the Red Sox agree to cover some of the $96 million owed to Price over the next three seasons. Internally, the Red Sox are debating whether it would be better to trade Betts without Price attached and then hope that the pitcher rebuilds his trade value following left elbow surgery, Olney writes.
The Dodgers may have the edge over the Padres even if they aren't willing to assume Price's deal, as San Diego doesn't have the same financial flexibility as its National League West rival. Any trade sending Betts and his 2020 salary of $27 million to the Padres would likely need to include Wil Myers, who is owed a guaranteed $61 million over the next three years. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote Monday that the amount of Myers' contract the Red Sox would assume has been a sticking point in trade talks between the two clubs.
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Dodgers will not deal shortstop Gavin Lux (MLB's No. 2 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline) in a Betts trade package, but they are willing to include outfielder Alex Verdugo -- a former top 100 prospect himself. Meanwhile, the Padres' discussions with the Red Sox reportedly have involved multiple Major League-ready players from the group of Josh Naylor, Manuel Margot, Joey Lucchesi and Cal Quantrill, plus at least one player from the team's second tier of prospects after MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams and Luis Patiño, going to Boston along with Myers.
Arguably, none of the players the Padres are known to have offered are on the same level as Verdugo, and the Red Sox wouldn't be shedding as much salary as they would in a trade with the Dodgers, whether Price is part of it or not.
Betts talks picking up steam; Padres and Dodgers remain involved
Jan. 30: Six days after reports emerged that the Padres were discussing a trade for Mookie Betts, San Diego remains actively engaged in trade talks involving the 2018 American League MVP Award winner, sources tell MLB.com's AJ Cassavell. But one of their NL West rivals, the Dodgers, is also still holding discussions with the Red Sox about Betts, per The Athletic's Andy McCullough (subscription required), who adds that "dialogue with Boston has approached a resolution on Betts."
The principles of a Padres-Red Sox deal are in place, but Wil Myers appears to be the sticking point. The issue, more specifically, is just how much of the $61 million remaining on Myers' contract the Red Sox are willing to take on. More >
Meanwhile, McCullough speculates that the Dodgers would likely balk at the prospect of taking on the entirety of David Price's contract ($96 million over the next three years) despite their considerable financial resources. Los Angeles' lineup as currently constructed already ranks among the National League's best. But adding Betts at the top could be a difference-maker in finally getting the Dodgers over the October hump.
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Dodgers will not deal shortstop Gavin Lux (MLB's No. 2 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline) in a Betts trade package, but they are willing to include outfielder Alex Verdugo -- a former top 100 prospect himself. That kind of depth in the Dodgers' system is a big reason why Los Angeles could ultimately get a Betts deal done, says MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
Heyman: Red Sox seem 'more serious than ever' about trading Mookie
Jan. 28: Trade talks involving Betts have picked up steam over the past week or so, and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman gets the sense that the Red Sox are "more serious than ever" about moving the 27-year-old outfielder.
Per Heyman, some rivals are starting to think a deal will happen, which is a stark change from the industry consensus earlier in the offseason.
The Padres and Dodgers are the two clubs that have been most heavily connected to Betts lately, but it's unclear if there's a frontrunner to acquire the 2018 American League MVP Award winner.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday that multiple people within the Padres organization aren't optimistic about the team's chances of acquiring Betts. That feeling is due to the Dodgers' presence in negotiations, as well as the belief that the Red Sox are unwilling to take on more of the $61 million owed to Wil Myers over the next three years.
Per Acee, the Padres have offered to send the Red Sox multiple young Major Leaguers and at least one prospect along with Myers in exchange for Betts, but they want Boston to assume roughly 75 percent of Myers' remaining salary in the deal, while the Sox have offered to pick up about half. It's assumed that the Dodgers, given their deep pockets and strong farm system, can offer a comparable package of young talent without requiring the Red Sox to take back significant money.
Money standing in way of potential Betts deal
Jan. 27: The Padres are still pushing for a Betts trade, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that money is impeding a potential deal.
Per Acee, San Diego is willing to package two young Major Leaguers -- Manuel Margot or Josh Naylor and Cal Quantrill or Joey Lucchesi -- plus one prospect in exchange for Betts, with Boston also taking on Wil Myers, who is owed a guaranteed $61 million over the next three years. However, the Sox are only willing to assume about half of Myers' remaining salary, while the Padres want the team to take on roughly 75 percent.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are also discussing a Betts trade with the Red Sox, per a report from Alex Speier of the Boston Globe on Sunday. If Los Angeles is willing to assume all of Betts' $27 million salary in 2020 without requiring Boston to take back significant money in the deal, the Red Sox may prefer trading with the Dodgers over the Padres. But in that case, the package of prospects going to Boston likely wouldn't be as good.
Red Sox remain engaged with Dodgers, Padres on Betts
Jan. 26: The Red Sox are still discussing Betts trade scenarios with the Dodgers and Padres, according to a report by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe.
That doesn't make a Betts trade certain, but the fact that Boston is still considering both clubs' proposals -- each reportedly containing combinations of Major Leaguers and top prospects -- with Spring Training on the horizon signals that the club is still open-minded to a swap. Speier reports that the Red Sox's willingness to trade Betts "appears serious." While the Red Sox could compete for the American League East title this year, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal notes in his Sunday column for The Athletic (subscription required) that clearing Betts' salary -- and getting a prospect-laden return for him before he departs via free agency -- would potentially give Boston a more flexible future.
The Dodgers have the financial wherewithal to take on Betts' $27 million salary this year, and possess multiple highly regarded prospects besides shortstop Gavin Lux and pitcher Dustin May, who appear to be untouchable. Los Angeles could probably take on the remaining $96 million left on David Price's contract as part of a deal, too. A deal with the Padres could involve the Red Sox acquiring outfielder Wil Myers, who is owed $61 million over the next three years. San Diego would probably need to tack on significant prospect talent to convince Boston to take on Myers in a swap. Rosenthal reports that the D-backs, with former Boston ties in manager Torey Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen, have also shown at least some interest in trading for Betts. However, on paper, Arizona doesn't appear to have either the financial or prospect resources to compete with the Dodgers or Padres in a bidding war.
Padres have discussed Betts trade with Red Sox
Jan. 23: The Padres have discussed a trade with the Red Sox involving Betts, with recent talks focusing on a package of Wil Myers and prospects going to Boston, sources told MLB.com's AJ Cassavell, confirming what was initially reported by Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription required). People familiar with the discussions consider a trade to be a long shot at this juncture, but there's at least legitimate interest on both sides, Lin notes.
Myers is owed $61 million guaranteed over the next three seasons, including a $1 million buyout of his $20 million club option for 2023. However, the average annual value of his contract is only $13.8 million, which would help Boston in its goal of getting under the $208 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold in 2020.
Betts will earn $27 million in his final year before free agency. Cot's Baseball Contracts projects that the Red Sox, as currently constituted, will have a CBT figure of roughly $225 million this season.
The Padres' front office is entering a critical campaign. The team has yet to register a winning record during general manager A.J. Preller's tenure, despite his penchant for aggressive moves. Although they signed Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million contract last winter and got stellar rookie seasons from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack, the Padres ended up winning only four more games in 2019 than they did the previous season. Exchanging Myers and prospects for Betts could go a long way toward helping San Diego reach the postseason for the first time since 2006.
The Padres have one of the best farm systems in baseball and could present an enticing package to the Red Sox, even with the team unwilling to trade Mackenzie Gore, Luis Patiño, CJ Abrams and possibly others, per a source.
ESPN's Buster Olney recently reported that the Red Sox were asking for multiple high-end prospects in exchange for Betts, and for the acquiring team to take on David Price -- and most or all of the $96 million owed to the left-hander over the next three years -- in any deal. However, Boston's talks with the Padres perhaps show a willingness to lower its demands.
According to Lin, the Padres and Red Sox kicked around a Myers-for-Price swap earlier this offseason, but San Diego has limited interest in that scenario.
Here are Red Sox's reported demands in potential Betts trade
Jan. 19: Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom may still be exploring trades for Betts, but ESPN's Buster Olney reports in an article for ESPN+ (subscription required) that some rival evaluators view the team's asking price as overly steep.
Per Olney, any deal for Betts must include David Price, with the acquiring team taking on most or all of the $96 million still owed to the left-hander over the next three seasons. And that's not all. The Red Sox also are asking for two high-end prospects.
Principal owner John Henry said at the end of the 2019 season that he wanted the club to get under the $208 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold to reset the penalty rate, leading to speculation that Boston would look to move Betts this offseason. The 27-year-old can become a free agent after the 2020 campaign, during which he'll earn $27 million.
However, Henry told Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe earlier this month that the Red Sox are "focused on competitiveness over the next five years over and above resetting" the CBT penalty rate.
Given Boston's lofty trade demands, it's looking more and more likely that the 2018 American League MVP Award winner will be with the club entering the upcoming season.