Inbox: Should Red Sox explore Betts trade?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from Red Sox fans

August 27th, 2019

Does Mookie get moved this winter, and does J.D. come back on a new deal?
-- @JustinStanleyy

I do think the Red Sox need to do their best this offseason to get a better gauge on the chances they can sign to a long-term deal either before or once he reaches free agency. If they come away thinking it's unlikely to happen, the organization owes it to itself to find out what they could get for him in a trade. If there is something that could help the club in both the short and long term, it is worth exploring. If not, there’s no harm in letting Betts play it out in his walk year when he will obviously be driven to have a huge year.

The situation is trickier because he has an opt-out clause after both this season and next season. Because he has one more year at $23.75 million before that base salary drops by $4 million in 2021, I think there’s a chance he waits a year to exercise the opt-out.

What is the long-term view of Darwinzon Hernandez? Is he going to be a starter option next year or just a long reliever in the Majors?
-- @brentbentley24

By no means will he ever be a long reliever. There are two options: high-leverage reliever or starting pitcher. What they’ve learned over the past few weeks is that Hernandez is fully capable of being a dominant reliever in the Major Leagues. What they don’t know is how good he can be as a starter. I expect the Red Sox will give Hernandez a long look in Spring Training next year to determine his ceiling as a starter. Ultimately, they will put him in whichever role he can be more dominant in.

Is there any chance that we could see Bobby Dalbec called up in September?
-- @KevinMoya23

Sure, I’d say there’s a great chance. Dalbec, the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is doing a nice job for Triple-A Pawtucket. He could be a big part of the team’s future. The Red Sox clearly need more right-handed-hitting options in the late innings. If the Sox fall out of contention, don’t be surprised to see Dalbec get a decent amount of playing time. If they stay in the race, he will serve in more of a complementary role.

What do you see Chavis’s role as next season? Will it be more or less than this season?
-- @titlecityboston

That’s up to Michael Chavis. He needs to prove that he can tighten the one big flaw in his game: the ability to hit the high fastball. Once Chavis returns from his current injury, the Red Sox will be monitoring his at-bats closely for the rest of the season to see if he is making the necessary progress. Dalbec will be putting the pressure on Chavis next year, as well.

Will the Sox re-sign Brock Holt?
-- @coachVMarino

I can’t say whether they will, but I can tell you that they should. This guy is invaluable. And he’s a better hitter than you realize. Since Holt’s return from the injured list on May 27, he has a .346 batting average and a .909 OPS. Holt also happens to love the city of Boston and the community. Hopefully, the sides can find a deal that makes sense, because they are perfect for each other.

Why does Cora continue to start Brian Johnson? Why is he even on the ball club? Seriously.
-- @ProBallBaseball

Alex Cora remembers how valuable Johnson was to the team last season, when he legitimately gave the team a chance to win almost every start he made. That has not been true this year, probably because Johnson is still regaining his full health after experiencing elbow woes and then dealing with an undisclosed medical issue. I think the biggest reason Cora continues to start Johnson is because there aren’t many other options. Josh A. Smith is the only other option on the Major League roster. They obviously don’t think any of their prospects are ready to make the jump yet. Chris Sale and David Price are both on the injured list, making the Red Sox test their depth.

Who are the best pitching talents in the Minors that you see making a helpful 2020 impact on the big league roster?
-- @JonSpack

The starter to watch is Tanner Houck, who is the club's No. 5 prospect. The righty was the 24th pick in the 2017 Draft out of Missouri. He has progressed nicely through the farm system since then and has pitched really well since his recent promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Damon, Ellsbury or Bradley: Who is your best Red Sox 21st century center fielder?
-- @AveryWilkins17

Best offensive player: Johnny Damon. Best defensive player: Jackie Bradley Jr. Best all-around player (when healthy): Jacoby Ellsbury. If I could take one of them in their prime, it would be Damon because of the huge impact he had at the top of the lineup. Damon also played hurt all the time and doesn’t get enough credit for how good he was in his four years with the Red Sox. His teammates, to a man, loved him. So did his managers and coaches.

How is Feltman doing? Any chance on a cup of coffee next month?
-- @mrshieldsy

This has not been a good year for closer prospect Durbin Feltman. He has a 5.70 ERA for Double-A Portland and 31 walks in 47 innings. I wonder if all the hype he had going into the year put undue pressure on him.