Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to reflect Jair Camargo’s trade to the Twins from the Dodgers as part of those teams’ Kenta Maeda/Brusdar Graterol swap.
On Tuesday, word got out that Mookie Betts would be traded to the Dodgers. Over the course of the week, the trade moved from a seeming certainty to something less so, as the Red Sox reportedly raised concerns about the health of prospect Brusdar Graterol. With spring training just days away, the players were stuck in limbo as the teams tried to renegotiate. Now it appears those negotiations have borne fruit, with a new deal finalized per reports from Jeff Passan, Ken Rosenthal, and Chad Jennings. And in a bit of good news after the indecision of the last four days, Alex Speier is reporting that the player medical evaluations are done, with only league approval of the money heading to Los Angeles holding up the official finalization of the trade.
The original deal was a three-team swap involving the Dodgers, Twins, and Red Sox, with a follow-up trade between the Angels and Dodgers. But Sunday’s moves involve two discrete trades between the Dodgers and Red Sox, and the Dodgers and Twins. And that Dodgers-Angels deal? It is not happening, per Ken Rosenthal.
Let’s look at the finalized version of each trade.
Trade 1: Dodgers/Red Sox
- OF Mookie Betts
- LHP David Price
- $48 million to pay David Price’s $96 million salary over the next three years.
Red Sox Receive:
What’s new: The Red Sox were previously set to receive Minnesota pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol. With the Twins now out of the deal, the Dodgers will send along Jeter Downs and Connor Wong to complete the trade. We also now know the cash considerations for David Price.
Jay Jaffe wrote up the previous iteration of this trade on Wednesday, so let’s focus on the newer aspects of this trade. I asked our own Eric Longenhagen for his evaluation of both Downs and Wong. He had this to say about Downs:
Downs has been a polished, advanced hitter for his age dating way back to high school. He’s not a shortstop for me and his thicker lower half means his likely future home is as a shift-aided second baseman at maturity, in my opinion. He’s short back to the ball with some pop, and his swing is bottom-hand heavy, which leaves him somewhat vulnerable to velo in on his hands, but he’s selective enough to swing at pitches he can damage. Despite the patience and bat control, I think he ends up with closer to average contact ability but with fully actualized power production, a well-rounded offensive profile that cleanly profiles at second base. His average exit velo was 88 mph last year, and there’s not a lot of room on the body so that might be all. He’s a 50 FV prospect set to be around 60th overall on Wednesday’s Top 100.
As for Wong, Longenhagen said:
Wong is a multi-positional defender who can also play catcher. His is another swing the Dodgers have tweaked since college, when Wong was more contact-oriented. He has average raw power but lifts the ball. His approach is an issue and I think it’ll prevent him from being a full-time player, but his ability to catch and play on the infield will make him a cool role player who gives Boston’s big league roster defensive flexibility.
If we want to compare this deal to the one the Red Sox backed out of — and we definitely do want to compare them — Boston did slightly better in the current iteration. They grabbed a similarly ranked prospect to Graterol in Downs and got an extra player in Wong. Ultimately, the Red Sox got the financial relief they so coveted, as well as a decent, recently graduated prospect, a solid prospect, and a potential role player. In a vacuum, it’s a fair deal, with Boston getting lesser prospects for one year of one of the game’s best players because they attached a lot of David Price’s contract to the bargain. For Boston fans, the deal sucks. The Red Sox didn’t need to back off from contention and trade Mookie Betts. The deal serves principally to increase the Red Sox’s profits with a small increase in their competitive position some years down the line.
As for the Dodgers, Brendan Gawlowski wrote late last week about the unbalanced NL West. This deal keeps San Diego from potentially getting close to unseating Los Angeles; Betts in the fold will help ensure the Dodgers are huge favorites for the division in 2020, and provides the team with a better shot at a championship.
Trade 2: Dodgers/Twins
- RHP Brusdar Graterol
- OF Luke Raley
- Minnesota’s Competitive Balance Pick in 2020 (67th overall)
What’s New: Graterol goes to Los Angeles instead of Boston. The Dodgers also receive outfielder Luke Raley and a draft pick, while the Twins receive cash to pay for Maeda’s salary and catching prospect Jair Camargo. The only aspect of the deal that’s retains its original form is Maeda going to the Twins.
Raley is a plus runner underway despite his size, and has big raw power that the Dodgers did well to tease out in games before trading him to Minnesota as part of the 2018 Brian Dozier deal. While explosive in some ways, Raley is stiff and unathletic, and at times an adventure on defense. He could end up as a bat-only bench outfielder, or low-end platoon option.
Longenhagen noted the following on Camargo when I asked:
Camargo is a very physical 20-year-old catcher, who is currently an average receiver and going to an org that has shown an ability to improve how catchers frame. His bat head drags into the zone, which causes him to be late, but he’s so strong that he can still make impact contact the other way. His exit velos are huge for a 20-year-old: 91 mph on average with a hard hit rate of 47%, which is a 65 on the scale. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the body and how that impacts his ability to catch, and his approach is enough of an issue that it will likely detract from the power production. He’s going to be a 35+ FV on a soon-to-be updated Twins list.
The draft pick heading to Los Angeles has generally been worth around $4 million, though this year’s draft does look deeper than normal. Even so, that the Twins received $10 million for Maeda’s salary indicates the Dodgers had to sweeten the deal slightly to get it done.
As for the Joc Pederson/Ross Stripling deal that fell through, the Dodgers seem to have an extra outfielder and an extra swingman available to make a few more minor moves. In the end, the Dodgers provided a little more value to Minnesota but got a good pitching prospect, while they provided a lot more value to Boston, mitigated mostly by receiving Graterol. The Dodgers sweetened the deals slightly for both trade partners. Their reward is Mookie Betts. The Twins and Red Sox are slightly better off than they were Tuesday night. The Dodgers are just a lot better off.
Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.