Mookie's in LA. Are one of these 5 moves next?
The Mookie Betts trade has finally been completed.
Now what? That’s the thing about a crazy trade. It sometimes leads to more craziness. The Red Sox might not be finished dealing. Meanwhile, the Rangers, White Sox, Indians and more have to be looking to take advantage of a wide-open American League Wild Card race.
As for National League teams, some of them are going to try to put themselves in a better position for a possible postseason matchup against the suddenly-almost-invincible Dodgers.
There you go. All of it is in play after the storm of action in which the Dodgers acquired Betts and left-hander David Price from the Red Sox and prospects Brusdar Graterol and Luke Raley and a 2020 Draft pick in a separate deal with the Twins. Los Angeles sent outfielder Alex Verdugo, shortstop Jeter Downs and catcher/infielder Connor Wong to Boston, while also shipping righty Kenta Maeda, catching prospect Jair Camargo and cash to Minnesota.
Let’s consider five possible moves that could come next.
1. Kris Bryant dealt to Rangers
The Braves, Nationals and Phillies are also in play as the Cubs consider their options. But the Rangers are the most motivated buyer after an offseason in which they dramatically upgraded their starting rotation and attempted to land a star third baseman such as Anthony Rendon or Nolan Arenado.
General manager Jon Daniels needs one more big move to keep pace with the AL's top contenders, and Bryant -- under club control through 2021 -- would not be a one-season rental. Additionally, Texas has an elite third-base prospect in Josh Jung, who could be Bryant’s long-term replacement in Chicago.
2. Rockies and Cardinals reopen Arenado trade talk
We’re about to find out if the Rockies were ever really serious about trading their biggest star. If it happens, the Cardinals are the clear front-runner, given that the Braves, Nationals and Phillies may not have the payroll for a move of this magnitude.
This isn’t as much about the Cardinals preparing for a postseason series against the Dodgers as simply improving themselves enough to get there. The big questions regarding this discussion are if the Cardinals would want some assurance that Arenado would not opt out after 2021 (as his contract allows), and if St. Louis would be willing to part with outfielder Dylan Carlson, MLB Pipeline's No. 17 overall prospect.
3. Indians bring back Yasiel Puig
Sure, Puig is a challenge at times. He’s also wildly entertaining. Did we mention an .823 career OPS? Besides, if you’re looking for a wild horse, don’t you want him playing for arguably the most respected manager in the game in Terry Francona?
With the Twins ahead of them in the AL Central, and the White Sox moving up fast, the Indians need to keep pace, and Puig is the best free agent still available.
4. Red Sox trade Brandon Workman to White Sox
Workman is a year from free agency, and his value is high after a season in which he appeared in 73 games with a 1.88 ERA and 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He upgrades every contender, but the White Sox may feel compelled to answer the Twins' acquisition of Maeda, who may swing between the rotation and bullpen.
The Red Sox can still probably contend without Betts, and trading away Workman would hurt that cause, but new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is clearly more focused on building a sustained contender than 2020 alone.
5. D-backs trade Robbie Ray to A’s
The A’s need a veteran starter to ease the workload on young starters Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Frankie Montas. Ray is Arizona’s No. 2 starter, but general manager Mike Hazen has accumulated enough pitching depth to allow him to continue to use veterans to replenish his Minor League system.
Additionally, the Dodgers' acquisition of Betts is going to make 2020 that much more challenging for the D-backs, and Hazen might want to hedge a little with more of a focus on '21, when Betts and Justin Turner might be out of Los Angeles as free agents.