LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Tuesday landed the game-changer they’ve been seeking all winter and then some, acquiring outfielder Mookie Betts plus starting pitcher David Price from the Red Sox in a three-team deal that sends outfielder Alex Verdugo to Boston and pitcher Kenta Maeda to Minnesota, sources told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
To make room for Betts (and remain under the competitive balance tax), the Dodgers in a separate trade dealt outfielder Joc Pederson and pitcher Ross Stripling to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo, according to multiple reports. ESPN's Kiley McDaniel reports that an additional piece may be Dodgers outfield prospect Andy Pages.
None of the teams involved have confirmed either deal. The three-team trade reportedly may be adjusted, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, because of the medical records of Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol, who was expected to be part of the return for the Red Sox.
A source told Feinsand that the teams involved in the three-way trade are “working through some things" and are hopeful that it will be completed on Thursday, but it’s not a certainty, as medicals are holding up the deal.
DODGERS GET: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, cash (all from BOS)
RED SOX GET: OF Alex Verdugo (from LAD), RHP Brusdar Graterol (MLB Pipeline's No. 83 prospect, from MIN)
TWINS GET: RHP Kenta Maeda (from LAD)
The Dodgers had no problem taking on Betts’ $27 million salary for 2020, after which he’ll be a free agent. The Red Sox, seeking immediate relief from the competitive balance tax, felt compelled to shed Betts, who is determined to hit the market and seek a record $400 million free-agent deal.
To get the trade done, however, the Dodgers had to also take Price, who has three years and $96 million remaining on his contract. He figures to replace starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who left as a free agent and signed a four-year, $80 million deal with Toronto. The Dodgers are expected to pay about half of Price’s remaining salary, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Any money sent by the Red Sox to the Dodgers will count toward Boston's luxury tax payroll, prorated annually over the three years remaining on the deal.
Betts is the offensive prize for Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who went big-game hunting this offseason after the Dodgers’ seventh consecutive division title and postseason appearance couldn’t snap the franchise’s 31-year streak without a World Series ring.
Seeking an October difference maker, Friedman was outbid for top free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole. When free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon wasn’t interested in the Dodgers, Friedman shifted to the trade market, narrowing the primary targets to Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant and Betts. It turned out to be Betts, and now this is the star-laden projected Dodgers lineup:
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Max Muncy, 1B
3. Justin Turner, 3B
4. Cody Bellinger, CF
5. A.J. Pollock, LF
6. Corey Seager, SS
7. Gavin Lux, 2B
8. Will Smith, C
The Padres emerged as the Dodgers’ most serious competitor for a Betts trade. But for a one-year rental, San Diego wouldn’t include top prospects MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño or CJ Abrams, according to MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell.
While that swung the leverage to the Dodgers, another presumed key factor in bringing the Dodgers and Red Sox together is the personal relationship between Chaim Bloom, Boston’s new chief baseball officer, and Friedman, Bloom’s boss for a decade with Tampa Bay.
Verdugo, apparently the key for the Red Sox, missed the last two months of the 2019 season with core and back issues.
The Twins, the third team in the deal, received right-hander Maeda, who went 10-8 with a 4.08 ERA mostly as a starter for the Dodgers last season. But he also has played a pivotal relief role in prior postseasons. Minnesota in turn is expected to send the 21-year-old Graterol to Boston. The 6-foot-1, 265-pounder got his first taste of the bigs last season, going 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA, all in relief (10 games).
The 27-year-old Betts won the American League MVP Award in 2018, giving the Dodgers three past MVPs along with Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger, who won the 2019 National League MVP Award. Betts is a four-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, with three Silver Sluggers. Bellinger figures to remain in center field, with Betts in right field, batting leadoff in an already loaded lineup, although they could flip positions as well. A.J. Pollock figures to open the season in left field.
Betts didn’t match his MVP season in 2019, but he was good enough to finish eighth in the voting after slashing .295/.391/.524 while leading the league in runs scored for a second consecutive season. His stolen bases were nearly cut in half from 30 to 16.
The 34-year-old Price, who played for Friedman with Tampa Bay, was 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA last year, when he was limited to 22 starts because of a cyst on his left wrist. He joins a rotation of Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and a large group of candidates for the final two spots that includes Alex Wood, Julio Urias, Jimmy Nelson, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin.