Dodgers Finally Score Big by Trading for Mookie Betts

As has been the case for too many October contests since Kirk Gibson homered off Dennis Eckersley, the Dodgers couldn’t seem to win the big ones this winter. They reportedly offered Gerrit Cole $300 million (with deferrals), but were outbid by the Yankees. They expressed interest in Anthony Rendon, but never offered him a contract, and were unwilling to go to a fourth year for Josh Donaldson. Hell, they were even outspent by the Blue Jays — who had spent less than all but four other teams in free agency over the past 14 years — for the services of Hyun-Jin Ryu. They were said to be focused on trades, with a Francisco Lindor/Mike Clevinger package offering one tantalizing possibility. On Tuesday, they finally broke through with a blockbuster, acquiring Mookie Betts and David Price from the Red Sox as part of a three-team, five-player deal that also included the Twins.

Dodgers Receive:

  • RF Mookie Betts (from Red Sox)
  • LHP David Price (from Red Sox)
  • Cash Considerations (from Red Sox)

Red Sox Receive:

Twins Receive:

Separately, the Dodgers cleared even more space in their outfield by trading Joc Pederson to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo, with other players possibly involved. Dan Szymborski will break down that deal on Wednesday.

Though he’ll quite possibly only be around for one year before testing free agency, the 27-year-old Betts fortifies an already robust lineup that led the NL in scoring (5.47 runs per game) and wRC+ (111) in 2019 while powering the Dodgers to a franchise-record 106 wins. The 2018 AL MVP will play alongside reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger in a lineup that now boasts three of the majors’ 25 most valuable players by WAR from the past year (Max Muncy being the third); all three of those players rank among the top 11 hitters by wRC+ over the past two seasons. The Dodgers’ path to an eighth consecutive NL West title just became even easier, but this is about increasing their odds of getting back to the World Series, which they did in both 2017 and ’18, and finally winning one for the first time since 1988.

With Verdugo and Pederson gone, the likely alignment for the outfield will be A.J. Pollock in left field, Bellinger in center, and Betts in right, with versatile reserves Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernández, and Matt Beaty also able to play the outfield. Per our RosterResource page, the lineup could look like this:

Dodgers’ Post-Trade Lineup
Order Pos Player
1 RF Mookie Betts
2 1B Max Muncy
3 3B Justin Turner
4 CF Cody Bellinger
6 LF A.J. Pollock
5 SS Corey Seager
7 C Will Smith
8 2B Gavin Lux
9 P Pitcher

For any team to pry Betts away from the Red Sox would have seemed unthinkable just a year ago, when he was coming off a 10.4-WAR MVP season and his team was basking in the afterglow of its fourth championship in a 15-season span — a championship won at the expense of the Dodgers, whom they beat soundly in a five-game World Series. Yet the Sox backed themselves into a corner, payroll-wise, extending Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale but skimping on bullpen help. The result was a flimsy roster that limped to 84 wins in 2019. Along the way, owner John Henry fired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski less than a year after the team’s World Series win and suddenly developed a distaste for paying the Competitive Balance Tax, something the Red Sox have done in four of the past five seasons (all but 2017). With Betts pulling down $27 million in salary for 2020 (a record for an arbitration-eligible player) and determined to test free agency after this season, Henry chose to prioritize cutting payroll — the Red Sox were about $20 million over the CBT threshold according to Cot’s Contracts, and $30 million over according to RosterResource, with projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players accounting for most of the discrepancies — over strengthening the current roster.

Less than two weeks after new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was hired away from the Rays, slugger J.D. Martinez chose not to opt out of the three years and $62 million remaining on his five-year deal. With that, the possibility of the team parting with Betts, a generational player whose value has been eclipsed only by Mike Trout since he arrived in the majors in 2014, to achieve that end increased significantly. While the team could have concocted less drastic alternatives, their fear of getting nothing for Betts besides a draft pick ultimately led them to choose this path. The Sox reportedly offered Betts a 10-year, $300 million extension following the 2018 season, but Betts’ side countered with 12 years and $420 million, a deal not far off the extension Trout signed last March.

As the Betts drama has played out, the rest of the Red Sox’s business this winter has been underwhelming, to say the least. They’ve re-signed Mitch Moreland to be their starting first baseman and added Josh Osich, Jose Peraza, Martín Pérez and Kevin Plawecki, all on one-year deals, at a total cost of $14.1 million. Aside from Pérez, who was worth 1.9 WAR in a rollercoaster season in Minnesota, the other four combined for 0.3 WAR. From among their four previous trades, only reliever Austin Brice projects to even graze the 25-man roster.

ZiPS Projection – Mookie Betts
Year BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2020 .294 .376 .540 605 125 178 39 4 34 96 79 96 21 141 11 6.7

While Betts did not fully live up to his big 2018 season last year, his 6.6 WAR nonetheless placed him among the AL’s top five and the majors’ top 10. He matched his career wRC+ of 135, hitting .295/.391/.524 with 29 homers overall, but to get there had to overcome a first-half slump. During June, he hit just .217/.357/.415, and through the end of that month owned a .261/.381/.453 line and a 117 wRC+. After working to position his hands higher, and shore up other parts of his swing, he hit .335/.403/.607 (156 wRC+) from July 1 onwards, but he played just six games after September 12 due to inflammation in his left foot.

Despite the shortened season, Betts has by far the highest one-, two- and three-year WAR totals of any recent player of note who was traded with just one full season to go before free agency. Updating a table I put together in September:

Notable Recent Players Traded One Year Before Free Agency
Player From To Date Age Prev WAR 1 Prev WAR 2 Prev WAR 3 Tot
Mookie Betts BOS LAD 2/3/20 27 6.6 10.4 5.3 22.3
Johan Santana MIN NYM* 2/2/08 29 4.0 6.7 7.1 17.8
Paul Goldschmidt ARI STL* 12/5/18 31 5.2 5.3 4.9 15.4
Jason Heyward ATL STL 11/17/14 25 4.7 3.1 5.3 13.1
Andrew McCutchen PIT SFG 1/15/18 31 3.6 1.0 6.0 10.6
Jeff Samardzija OAK CHW 12/9/14 30 4.4 3.0 2.7 10.1
Justin Upton ATL SDP 12/19/14 27 3.7 3.5 2.5 9.7
Yoenis Céspedes BOS DET 12/11/14 29 3.5 1.9 4.0 9.4
Howie Kendrick LAA LAD 12/11/14 31 4.6 2.1 2.3 9.0
Rick Porcello DET BOS* 12/11/14 26 3.0 2.9 3.0 8.9
Age is player’s season-age in his first year with the new team. Prev WAR 1, 2,3 represents WAR one, two or three year prior to being traded. * = signed extension with new team

As I noted at the time, the returns on these deals generally produced more quantity than quality — often three or four players, many of whom didn’t amount to much, though there were definitely some gems in the mix. The A’s got Marcus Semien in the Samardzija trade, the Pirates obtained Bryan Reynolds in the McCutchen deal, the Braves received Max Fried in the Upton swap, and the Angels netted Andrew Heaney in the Kendrick move, which was the second leg of a three-team blockbuster that also included the Marlins.

Last week, Craig Edwards illustrated how difficult it would be for the Red Sox to get full value for Betts in such a trade, and by including Price in the deal and paying some as-yet-undisclosed fraction of the $96 million he has remaining on his record-setting seven-year, $217 million deal, they sacrificed some quality. Nonetheless, in Verdugo they acquired a former top-50 prospect who has five years of club control remaining after making a strong showing in an injury-abbreviated rookie season, while in Graterol, they have a heat-throwing top 100 prospect who still has a shot at starting but could be an elite reliever in the making.

ZiPS Projection – Alex Verdugo
Year BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ DR WAR
2020 .289 .348 .441 429 55 124 28 2 11 53 39 64 7 106 4 1.9
2021 .289 .354 .457 418 56 121 30 2 12 54 42 66 7 112 4 2.2
2022 .288 .357 .462 420 57 121 30 2 13 55 45 69 7 114 3 2.3
2023 .285 .355 .457 418 57 119 29 2 13 55 46 71 6 112 3 2.1
2024 .283 .355 .459 407 55 115 29 2 13 53 46 71 6 113 3 2.1

Verdugo, who turns 24 on May 15, is a former second-round 2014 pick who had cups of coffee with the Dodgers in both ’17 and ’18 before sticking last year. He ranked 48th on our 2018 Top 100 Prospects list but dropped to 117th in ’19 due to concerns about both his power and his makeup; by comparison, he ranked among the top 40 in both years on the lists of both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, while Baseball Prospectus had him as high as number 19 entering 2019. With the Dodgers last year, he hit .294/.342/.475 (114 wRC+) with 12 homers in 377 PA and made starts at all three outfield spots: 52 in center field, 14 in left, and 16 in right. He was a combined 3.4 runs above average via UZR en route to 2.2 WAR; he was 13 runs above average via DRS, yielding 3.1 bWAR. He did not play after August 4 due to a right oblique strain and then a bout of back tightness suffered while rehabbing in early September.

For all of Verdugo’s talent, concerns about his makeup have followed him since before he was drafted, with Keith Law (then of ESPN) noting questions about his level of motivation circa 2014, and the Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2018 writing, “Verdugo’s skills are undeniable, but criticism of his effort level and maturity have plagued him since his amateur days and were again prevalent in 2017,” referring, at the very least, to a dressing-down the rookie received from Rich Hill upon showing up to the ballpark late after oversleeping. In their 2019 edition, BA wrote, “Verdugo stays dialed in at the plate, but an indifferent attitude affects the rest of his game,” and noted lapses in his focus afield as well as a “slow motor” that “shows up on the bases, frustrating teammates and coaches alike,” while in their write up of the Dodgers system last year, Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel noted that “part of the reason teams have been asking for other Dodgers prospects in trades is due to some past off-field stuff.”

Presumably, Verdugo will take over Betts’ spot in right field, with Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. remaining in left and center, respectively, and Martinez seeing some time at both corners.

ZiPS Projection – Brusdar Graterol
Year W L ERA G GS IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2020 3 2 3.77 51 0 45.3 41 4 20 46 121 0.5
2021 11 8 4.32 26 26 118.7 117 14 49 104 106 2.0
2022 10 8 4.28 26 26 115.7 113 13 47 103 107 2.0
2023 9 7 4.29 23 23 105.0 103 12 43 94 107 1.8
2024 9 7 4.24 22 22 102.0 99 12 41 93 108 1.8
2025 9 7 4.21 22 22 98.3 94 12 40 91 108 1.8

Graterol is a 21-year-old righty whom the Twins signed out of Venezuela in August 2014, when he was just 170 pounds. He made just four starts in the Dominican Summer League the following year before tearing his UCL and undergoing Tommy John surgery, then bulked up and returned throwing in the high 90s. He has continued to thicken, and is now listed at 6-foot-1, 265 pounds. Per our prospect team, his fastball sits 96-99 mph and can touch 102; he has four-and two-seam variants. His slider is a plus with good glove-side command, and his changeup a potential plus. The combination gives him a shot at starting, though concerns about the consistency of his release point, and recent injuries (three trips to the IL in the last year and a half) have led some to view him as a reliever.

He was steered in that direction last year, at least temporarily. Ranked 64th on our Top 100 Prospects list last spring, Graterol began the year at Double-A Pensacola and pitched well through nine starts before being sidelined for nearly two months by a shoulder impingement. He worked out of the bullpen upon returning, making two rehab appearances in the Gulf Coast League, three in the Southern League, and four in the Triple-A International League before being called up by the Twins last September. In 10 appearances totaling 9.2 innings, he struck out 10 and walked two.

Graterol will again appear somewhere in the middle of our Top 100 list, which will be published next week. He instantly becomes the Red Sox’s top prospect, though their plans for his role remain to be seen.

ZiPS Projection – Kenta Maeda
Year W L ERA G GS IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2020 10 8 4.25 34 24 135.7 122 19 50 156 105 2.1
2021 9 7 4.29 31 22 121.7 110 18 45 140 104 1.8
2022 9 7 4.37 30 22 119.3 109 18 45 137 102 1.7
2023 8 7 4.38 28 20 111.0 101 17 42 127 102 1.6

As for Maeda, acquiring him at the expense of Graterol is a very win-now move that swaps future upside for a high floor; these aren’t the Terry Ryan Twins of yesteryear. Here’s what I wrote about him in the context of the Dodgers’ rotation on Tuesday:

A reliable No. 4 starter, the going-on-32-year-old Maeda has been somewhat cursed by his versatility and the structure of his contract. Guaranteed just $3 million annually, he’s had trouble maxing out a potential $10.15 million in annual bonuses because he’s ended each of the past three seasons in the bullpen, where he’s been more effective, posting a 3.19 ERA and 3.13 FIP in 42.1 regular season relief innings compared to a 3.92 ERA and 3.76 FIP in 564.2 innings as a starter. He’s been downright dominant in the postseason, posting a 1.64 ERA while allowing just 20 baserunners in 27 innings; his average four-seam fastball under those circumstances has been 1.5 mph faster than his regular season heater as a starter (93.2 mph vs. 91.7). He did make more starts (26), throw more innings (153.2), and post a higher WAR (2.5) last year than in any season since his 2016 stateside rookie campaign, capturing an extra $1.75 million for reaching the 25-start and 150-inning thresholds, but he’s made his dissatisfaction with his swingman role known to management, the response to which boiled down to “pitch better,” particularly against lefties. The possibilities of a restructured contract and a trade have been discussed; he remains a Dodger, but he’s a candidate to be included in a potential Price-related deal.

I probably sold Maeda short by calling him a number four starter. Reliably average or better — he has a 95 ERA- and 89 FIP- for his career — he’s a No. 3 in most rotations but was simply fourth in the Dodgers’ pecking order, at least until October arrived. With the trade, his concerns about the bullpen are probably moot. He’ll join a rotation that the Twins tried hard to augment this winter, but after falling short in their attempts to sign Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner, they wound up going for less impactful moves, adding Hill and Homer Bailey (both ex-Dodgers, though only on paper for the latter) and making their big splash by signing slugger Josh Donaldson. Maeda slots in behind José Berríos, with Bailey and Jake Odorizzi the other certainties for the moment. With Michael Pineda still serving a PED suspension and Hill recovering from elbow surgery, the team has one spot to fill, with contact-oriented rookies Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer the likely candidates.

ZiPS Projection – David Price
Year W L ERA G GS IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2020 9 6 3.74 23 23 130.0 118 19 33 135 111 2.2
2021 8 6 3.90 21 21 115.3 108 18 30 117 106 1.8
2022 7 6 3.97 21 20 113.3 108 18 30 113 105 1.6

As for Price, as I noted on Tuesday, he brings more name recognition than certainty to a rotation that has several high-upside options behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, all of whom bear question marks due to injuries and/or workload limitations. It’s too harsh to call the 34-year-old former Cy Young winner a poison pill, but ultimately, the Dodgers probably couldn’t have obtained Betts without sacrificing either Lux or Dustin May, their top two prospects and two of the overall top 10 on our 2019 late-season version of THE BOARD. Via our projections, Price isn’t a significant upgrade on Maeda; the real gain is the upgrade that Betts offers, though there’s something to be said for the postseason experience Price brings, particularly after he exorcised some demons in 2018, shedding a reputation for postseason spottiness with six shutout innings in the ALCS clincher against the Astros and one run allowed in 13.2 innings over two starts and one relief appearance, including seven strong innings in the clincher in Los Angeles.

Indeed, Price has gone through quite a series of ups and downs since signing with the Red Sox. In four years, he’s pitched to a 3.94 ERA and 3.74 FIP while averaging 24 starts and 147 innings, but those last two numbers are distorted by his 230.2-inning 2016 season; he’s averaged just 119 frames over the past three years. Likewise, his 2.7 WAR average over those four seasons drops to 2.1 over the past three. In 2019, he pitched to a 4.28 ERA (his highest since 2009) and a 3.62 FIP in 22 starts covering just 107.1 innings — fewer than five per turn. He generally pitched very well through the first half (3.24 ERA, 2.85 FIP) but made just six starts totaling 24 innings in the second half, with a 7.88 ERA and a 6.30 FIP. In May, he missed 17 days due to a bout of tendinitis in his left elbow, but a triangular fibrocartilage complex cyst in his left wrist hampered him throughout the season. He finally underwent surgery to remove it in late September and is presumably good to go for spring training.

As trades go, this rates as the winter’s biggest blockbuster given the headliner. Though Henry is hardly a cash-strapped Harry Frazee, he and the deal may live in infamy throughout New England, and regardless of whether Betts sticks around past 2020, it may be hailed as a stroke of genius for the Dodgers. At the very least, they didn’t give up anything that they couldn’t replace from within, and they’ve now got a stacked lineup featuring two players with a shot at winning MVP while helping them towards that long-elusive championship.

We hoped you liked reading Dodgers Finally Score Big by Trading for Mookie Betts by Jay Jaffe!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.

newest oldest most voted
Damaso
Member
Damaso

I see the Red Sox hired Shapiro from my Jays.

Sweet.

Rational Fan
Member
Rational Fan

My biggest takeaway of this is how many media members are carrying water for the Red Sox on this. The portrayal that this accelerates their rebuild is comical – at best.

The Red Sox could afford to pay Mookie and the tax, and no one can argue the Red Sox are better off today than they were yesterday – Price and Mookie are certainly more valuable from a production standpoint than anything they got in return.

The tax wouldn’t have crippled them – they’ve been one of the most profitable teams in baseball for three decades – and the fans deserve (I don’t use that word much) to expect their team to retain a generational HOF talent. It’s a terrible look for baseball, but more importantly it’s a terrible look for the Red Sox and all the writers trying to spin this positively are ignoring the reality of the decision. The Red Sox got worse today, and given that I think this takes them out of signing Mookie in FA I think they got worse for the future as well. All in the name of saving a couple dollars when they were going to be profitable regardless.

mikejunt
Member
Member
mikejunt

This only improves the red Sox in the long run if you’re sure Betts is going to free agency even if you offered him a FA quality extension.

I don’t think that’s was guaranteed to be the case but it’s definitely true that guys extending a year from free agency is very rare. If you’re sure the extension is off the table this is a reasonable concept (regardless of your opinion on the particulars).

For sure the Red Sox deserve criticism for letting it get to this point.

Johnston
Member
Johnston

My understanding is that Betts’ agent told the Red Sox how much it was going to cost to sign him long term (12/420) and the Sox realized that they would never, ever pay that much, so they traded him for something they could actually have in the future, and saved money, and got rid of that awful Price all at the same time.

They weren’t going to be getting past the Yankees anyway, so while it’s not a popular move to make, and I wouldn’t have done it, it’s still not really a stupid one.

Shalesh
Member
Shalesh

The luxury tax for the Red Sox was estimated at $65M (what Moustakas and Castellanos got in FA) for the next 3 seasons before this trade. I don’t know if the “this is bad for baseball” crowd are all billionaires for whom $65M amounts to a “couple dollars” or if you are just really poorly educated in business and economics. You really should take a moment to look up team revenues, payroll, and CBT liabilities before you write stupid things like this.

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

I get really annoyed when people say things like “everyone can afford this they’ve been profitable for years” when the most profitable teams earn maybe 100 million annually in “profit,” with huge year to year fluctuations. You know what they call propping up a business with money from another venture? A federal crime.

IN THIS CASE, Henry can prop up the Sox with a loan, but that’s assuming his liquidity is something more liquid than jello.

tomerafan
Member
Member
tomerafan

Especially when most American sports franchises also have minority owners, not just one single owner. These aren’t fungible pots of money.

mikejunt
Member
Member
mikejunt

American sports teams are huge pots of money, but they’re not huge pots of liquid money. Most of the profit in them is tied up in the increasing value of the franchise itself, and the rules of the league prohibit teams from borrowing against that value (the debt service rules) in order to keep team values extremely high.

The teams only have a relatively small portion of their value in liquid form; that is the issue. A lot of the profit in owning a team is difficult to realize without selling to another person.

Rational Fan
Member
Rational Fan

So the Red Sox couldn’t have moved Price and JD Martinez to get below the threshold? They had no other options but for trading their HOF level player in his prime? I’ll go ahead and say that’s 100% not true. The Red Sox didn’t want to pay Mookie what he was worth, so they traded him to get something for him. I truly think it’s that simple and the Red Sox PR team has been releasing BS over the last couple months to soften the blow of their decision. It appears many have bought in, and once again everyone is so concerned with the perceived bottom line of an ownership that has printed money for decades.

The Red Sox paid nearly that much in “tax” to sign Diasuke Matuzaka.

Also, please enlighten us how we should look up all these figures, when the books for all teams remain closed and private… I wonder why? All we have are estimates, and it’s quite obvious to anyone working in the finance world that an organization that doesn’t want to show their books, while claiming a lack of profitability, are likely full of shit. I can say the Red Sox wouldn’t have been begging for a loan if they extended Mookie Betts.

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

It’s obvious to everyone with cursory experience in leveraged finance after the University of Michigan debacle that if you have private books, showing them is a great way to lose all your money in other places in a short squeeze (they have lots of reasons not to show people where the money is, and what it is)

Rational Fan
Member
Rational Fan

If you think that is why MLB isn’t opening their books, I have some ocean front property in Iowa to sell you.

Yes, if reality becomes public knowledge than the leverage the ownership uses against players every CBA (we’re barely scraping by after the revenue share with players!) becomes complete BS.

FrancoLuvHateMets
Member
FrancoLuvHateMets

The MLBPA gets to see those books, it’s the public who doesn’t and has to make guesses.

abgb123
Member
abgb123

No the MLBPA does not get to see teams books.

Dan B
Member
Dan B

If the Sox are valued in the $4 bn range, then you have to believe that profits are at least $300m p.a. dependent on discount rate, the markets view on whether profits are rising or falling etc…

Or the franchise is grossly overvalued which I doubt.

Shalesh
Member
Shalesh

The highest-payroll team in the game who gave Sale 5/$150M, Price 7/$217, JDM 5/$125, Bogaerts $100M+ doesn’t want to pay Betts what he’s worth? He’s already declined their 10/$300M extension and wants to test the FA market. Or is that just bunk from their PR office?

In your world, Fangraphs is stupid for not recognizing that Luis Robert is the greatest prospect of all time, Forbes estimates of team revenues can’t be trusted, Steamer & Zips forecasts are dumb, the CBT is about salary suppression not competitive parity….

Dude, use public data — you can even note it’s flawed (though you’ll be expected to explain how it is) — just to constrain yourself from trafficking in conspiracy theories. This is a site driven by quantitative metrics — actually use some when you make your arguments.

Rational Fan
Member
Rational Fan

1. I’ve never said Luis Robert is the greatest prospect of all-time; I’ve stated that Fangraphs is significantly lower on him than other outlets, and I found the excuse of Lewis Brinson to be lazy. Way to exaggerate my point.

2. Of course Forbes estimates for revenue and profitability can’t be trusted or taken as facts, because by definition they’re ESTIMATES.

3. I’ve never once said Steamer or ZIPs were dumb; again, putting words into my mouth. I asked, and pointed out statistically with evidence, why Jose Berrios was projected to be worse than he’s been since his rookie year, despite being incredibly consistent 3 years in a row with some growth in the BB department. I know you prefer to just accept every single projection as a fact and thought through analysis, when in fact it’s mean to paint a picture with a broad brush which leaves room for poor evaluation for certain players.

What do you want me to quantify exactly when talking about a top 3 franchise selling off an elite asset in the name of fiscal responsibility? You’ve exaggerated and ridiculed three points I made, with absolutely no substance to support your claims. I never said any of the nonsense you claimed, and I don’t think it’s wise to ever move on from a 7 WAR player because replacing them is nearly impossible, and in no way does this make the Red Sox better today or over the next 5 years.

https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-red-sox/2019/12/20/fenway-sports-group-ranks-3rd-among-richest-sports-conglomerates

There’s something quantifiable for you; I’m sure they’ve obtained that wealth by skirting by on micro-margins though with minimal profits year over year. That’s typically what drives the worth of a business up significantly.

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

If we’re discounting things because they’re estimates, we have to throw WAR out too, or any likelihood derived metric. Any projection as well. Those are all estimates.
You don’t like Forbes Data because you think it’s BIASED. The difference between biased and estimate is really important. I think Forbes is wrong, but I’m willing to bet, here, the error isn’t correlated with anything we care about. That makes it a reasonable starting point to talk about whether a hit to revenue is significant or not. You’re basically saying that the 600 mill or whatever in cashflow is so far off that a firm can shrug off a 100 million dollar hit. In essence, that the estimate is off by an order of magnitude, and systematically so (the bigger the market, the bigger the bias?). Another way to put it is that the error bars are so far off the cashflow is entire multiples of what’s being reported. (If that were the case, you’d probably see a lot more interest in team ownership from pension funds, btw).
I haven’t seen any evidence of that, from you, or from anyone, that this bias exists.

Rational Fan
Member
Rational Fan

1. There is no 100 million dollar hit by retaining Betts.
2. The Red Sox could have moved OTHER assets to get under the number and then re-signed Betts.
3. Teams have been called out for creative accounting pertaining to local TV deals multiple times.
4. Teams accept public funds to subsidize their entity, and that alone means public interest should matter, and investing in providing the public with the best product they can should be something all fans expect. If teams want to go entirely private, and turn down public funds, then by all means go right ahead. If they don’t want to do that, then expect to be held to a standard that isn’t driven solely by bottom line profitability on a year to year basis.

dukewinslow
Member
dukewinslow

1, evidence please. Seemed the hit was from 65-100 mill for violating the luxury tax this year as a repeat offender.
2. Counterfactual that has no basis in evidence, Sale’s arm is falling off for fuck’s sake. Eovaldi is a huge mistake. The Red Sox played stupid games with contracts, their stupid prize is having to get rid of a top player. Nobody wants the other guys- revealed by this trade. There aren’t even rumors about deals for their other albatross contracts.
3. the Red Sox have done this? Again, falsifiable statement without evidence.
4. Decent premise, but it seems like people are going to have differing definitions of “best possible product.” I think I am hugely jealous of what FSG has provided red sox fans given the half century of what came before. I’m not sure that FSG even got public funds though- Fenway is famously very old and shitty.

Rational Fan
Member
Rational Fan

The estimate of 65 million was over 3 years, not next year.

You think the Red Sox couldn’t move Chris Sale after the contracts pitchers signed this off-season? Come on.

bosoxforlife
Member
Member
bosoxforlife

Are you trying to say that absolutely no financial discipline is allowed to be used in the formation of a roster? The Red Sox made very serious offers in excess of $300 and Mookie made it clear that he wanted to test free-agency. Beyond that what more can the Red Sox do? Go ahead and spend $400 million on one player with complete disregard for rest of the roster or are you saying that the total cost of the roster should have no limit either?

CousinNicky
Member
CousinNicky

“While most of you are yelling Go Red Sox or Go Dodgers, I’m yelling Go Billionaire Owners”
– Me, a highly educated fan in business and economics.

Shalesh
Member
Shalesh

We’re discussing a trade in which contractual terms matter, not what you’re yelling at after having 6 beers. If you’re highly educated, write comments in ways that demonstrate it.

tomerafan
Member
Member
tomerafan

For me, if I were to put it in less incendiary terms, I would say that:

1. I find discussions about the “value” of a sports franchise to be irrelevant. As I learned *painfully* with my baseball cards when I was younger, value only matters if you’re willing to sell and someone else is willing to buy. Right now, with sports franchises, there is a small pool of the latter (potential buyers) but a shortage of the former (willing sellers). That creates a scare asset (franchises) which drives up the reported price. But the reported price only matters if someone is willing to sell… and most sports owners are not.

I think of it, quite literally, in terms of my home. I live in a wonderful neighborhood of families. Two neighbors have sold their homes and have done very well, which raises the comp value for all of us. But I love our location, our neighborhood, our schools, etc. I can’t imagine selling at any price. And even if I did, I would buy somewhere else, and prices everywhere are elevated right now. The “value” of my home doesn’t really matter to me because I’m not looking to sell it.

2. I find discussions about cash flow to be much more important, and we of course don’t have the data. Want to know the one thing that could lead me to sell my home? If the local property tax bill went through the roof, because I could move a couple of miles to a different municipality and save the cash flow. I have worked with numerous business owners in my professional career, and I can’t think of one outside of the technology industry that cared purely about terminal value as opposed to cash flow if the intent were to hold and operate the business for the course of a lifetime (though the kids, especially those intent on ultimately selling, might feel differently!).

3. Discussing whether or not someone is a good or effective business owner is completely different than suggesting that they shouldn’t operate their sports franchise as a business.

These thoughts certainly run headlong into opposition from sports fans who desire championships and prestige at any cost because “the billionaires can afford it.” I get it. I’m a Mets fan. I know all too well the feeling that comes with watching the franchise you love be run in ways that you find to be poor.

losdiego
Member
losdiego

Here’s how I look at this…the Red Sox were willing and able to operate their team with payroll and tax commitments significantly higher than what their salary will run for 2020. Do we really believe they were operating at a loss in 2017 and 2018? I don’t. If that’s the case, and their income in ’20 can be expected to be similar if not higher than ’17 and ’18, then getting under the luxury tax only results in higher profits for the 2020 season.

You can look at the Dodgers the same way, they were spending close to $300 million a year in payroll a few years ago…do we really believe that they were operating at a loss or close to a loss at that point? I don’t. Their revenues aren’t going down, so what are we supposed to think about their profits when they went from making money spending $300 million a year on payroll to $200 million?

The problem with baseball ownership in the modern era is that teams are now seen as investments for multiple “stakeholders” (God I hate buzzwords). This isn’t a single owner, it’s a company with 50 minority “partners” (another one) who are all concerned exclusively with their ROI. These decisions are being made with a committee in mind, which is why you see such a single minded focus on improving profits after a few years of lesser profits. Show an increased ROI to potential future investors.

Johnston
Member
Johnston

“Show an increased ROI to potential future investors.”

This is how business works. People will readily agree that baseball is a business, and yet they are horrified when smart baseball teams do the things that good businesses do.

losdiego
Member
losdiego

I’m not saying they shouldn’t run their teams like “good businesses” but the difference between regular businesses and baseball teams is that people are emotionally invested in baseball outcomes. No one really cares what happens in the toaster business.

In that sense, trading away your most popular player and making your team significantly worse in the process is alienating your customers. Because your customers are emotionally involved in the outcome and don’t realize any cost savings from your prioritizing ROI for a group of faceless minority investors who don’t matter to Joe Smith from Revere. Or from Burbank. In fact, not only does Joe Smith not realize any cost savings, he sees the cost of his attending a game continue to go up, while seeing the product he’s paying for get worse.

This is the balance every baseball team has to face, and I get that, but I think as a Red Sox/Dodgers/Yankees big market team fan, you can rightfully be upset that your team is prioritizing ROI over competing to the best of their ability. If Breville starts making crappier toasters for 5 years while charging 5-10% more for them every year, eventually people will stop buying them. Even if Breville promises that this is a temporary reset and that their toasters will be amazing in year 6. There’s no guarantee the toaster is better in year 6, there’s no guarantee the added “flexibility and sustainability” of payroll actually makes the team better down the road. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

But I think that looking at baseball teams as only businesses like every other business isn’t accurate.

The Duke
Member
The Duke

A lot of downvotes but fair comment

AZ
Member
AZ

I just don’t see why you’d get rid of Betts when a majority of people believe he’s a sure-fire stud unless you don’t see a path to competing for a very long time. Boston isn’t a team that disappears for long periods of time….I expect them to be back in the hunt sooner rather than later, so why move on from him? He’s not 30.

Famous Mortimer
Member

He’s a former MVP. “A majority of people believe he’s a sure-fire stud”? Can you clarify what point you were trying to make there?

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City

They are not better off in 2020…

But they should be considerably better off in 2021 and beyond.

Sox still have a good lineup with Devers, Boegarts, JDM, and Benintendi. Sale is still an elite starter. They probably won’t set records, but they should still be fun to watch.

And we can hope to sign Mookie next winter.

Besides – life is too short to get stressed out over a trade. The Sox made a reasonable decision. It might not be perfect. But everything will be fine.

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

I think that given that they are trading Mookie Betts, they did pretty well. But I strongly agree with it not accelerating the rebuild. The party is Boston is over now. They’ve basically ceded the division to the Yankees next year, and yeah, they should be in the wild card hunt for a few years, but with that farm system they’re not going to get back to where they were set up for next season for another 5-10 years–*if they’re lucky*. It’s all downhill from there unless they try to sign back a megastar in free agency.

Realistically, this team had every reason to take one last swing at it and then deal with fiscal responsibility and avoiding the tax later. I’m pretty annoyed they didn’t take that path.

timprov
Member
timprov

Just in terms of straight payroll they do quite a bit better if they duck under the tax this year and jump back over it in 2021 than the other way around. There’s some opportunity cost in that they had Betts for 2020 if they wanted him, and there’s some question of what will be available to them next year, but I’m not sure that’s actually a really large effect.

Maybe more important is the chance that the kind of crazy ducking under to reset method goes away in the 2022 CBA. It would kind of suck to duck under in 2021 and then get no benefit from it.

bosoxforlife
Member
Member
bosoxforlife

Am I happy to see the most exciting Red Sox player I have ever watched since my first visit to Fenway in 1948 leave, of course not. I am horribly disappointed that the Red Sox and Mookie couldn’t find a deal that fit both sides but it is what it is. All subsequent statements are made with the virtual certainty that Mookie was not going to resign with the Red Sox. No rational Red Sox fan could say that the team isn’t quite a bit worse today than it was before the deal and that will probably be the case in 2020, but the 2021 season is different story altogether. The 2021 Red Sox would look very mediocre without Betts and there is more than a decent expectation that Verdugo and Graterol will be providing quite a bit of value to the 2021 team and beyond. Value equal to Betts, probably not, but Betts WAS NOT GOING TO BE PLAYING IN BOSTON!!! Even as dedicated a Red Sox fan as me could not see them finishing ahead of the Yankees in 2020 so while this season may be less exciting than it could have been the future offers more hope, and I haven’t mentioned that getting rid of Price softens the blow a great deal and a very large percentage of Red Sox Nation heartily agrees.

LightenUpFG
Member
Member

I am a bit bummed that the Sox lost a solid enough pitcher in Price, but I will be glad to be rid of some of his quotes and commentary. On a side note, I’m envious you got to see the Sox in the late 40s and through the 50s!

bosoxforlife
Member
Member
bosoxforlife

I recall fondly those days even though the team was not very good after 1952, but there was always Ted. My college years were the pits for Red Sox fans. Every weekend quite a few fans would make the trek to Fenway and join a few other masochists watching Eddie Bressoud and Felix Mantilla imitate major league players, but great seats were always available, and very inexpensive. LOL. Then came 1967 and, while there have been many, well at least a few, disappointments the consistent competitiveness has been just what a true fan wants. Then came 2004!!!

#KeepNotGraphs
Member

Lol Damaso returns to this site and gets zero attention from both the upvoters and the downvoters.