Revisiting the Mookie Betts Deal

It can take years for all the dust to settle when trying to determine who is a winner or a loser in a trade. Also, not every trade needs a winner and a loser, as some trades work out for both teams in  the end. Generally, in today’s baseball trading market, one team gets some established players trying to win in the short term. While the other team is bringing in some young guys and prospects in the hopes that most will turn into big league talent, it takes time to see if any of those prospects will work out. Most don’t become MLB regulars.

When trading a star player like Mookie Betts, it can be hard for any of the players brought in to live up to the talent they were traded for. Even if the prospects do make the roster consistently, they’ll always be compared to a guy that was called a “Once in a generation talent.” In these situations, fans can have a hard time looking at the big picture at the time and don’t look back when the emotions for the trade wear-off.

The Trade That Needed to Happen

The Red Sox were never going to sign Mookie Betts. Mookie didn’t seem to want to be in Boston, so the money it would take to keep him a Red Sox would be more than John Henry was every willing to pay at the time. The only way to get long-term value from him at that point is to trade him. It was something many Sox fans didn’t want to accept, and didn’t think the return of prospects Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs was a satisfactory return. Jeter Downs struggled to show he was ready for the big leagues. Playing in fourteen games for Boston and only batted .154 in 39 at-bats. He was claimed off waivers by the Washington Nationals this offseason and the trade looked even worse.

Verdugo and Wong

On the other hand, Alex Verdugo has batted above .280 in Boston and collected career highs in hits (166), doubles (39), and RBI’s (74) last season. He has consistently gotten better every season and has started red-hot in 2023. Batting .315 with five homeruns, eighteen RBI’s and twenty-six runs in the first thirty-two games of the season. Not the numbers Mookie Betts was putting up but a good, consistent player. Lastly, Connor Wong might be coming into his own as well this year. He’s caught the majority of the games this season and has clubbed three home runs with ten RBIs to go with a .284 average so far. Not bad for a catcher and shaping into good replacement for Christian Vazquez.

Although it’s almost impossible to replace a player like Mookie Betts, it can be done. Even though the trade didn’t totally work out for the Red Sox, I think fans shouldn’t say the team lost this trade. Boston got decent value back for a player that didn’t really want to be here. Not bad.

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