Major League Baseball has managed to upstage the NBA during its trade deadline with a blockbuster deal that severely alters the balance of power around the game. The Red Sox shipped star outfielder Mookie Betts and hurler David Price to the Dodgers late Tuesday in exchange for young outfielder Alex Verdugo and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol.
The trade firmly supplants the Dodgers as front runners in the National League, while setting the Red Sox well beneath the Yankees and other American League superpowers. But at least the Red Sox accomplished their goal of getting under the luxury tax, right?
Vegas’ World Series odds reflect the swing, with the Dodgers seeing their championship odds increase from 6/1 to 4/1, per BetOnline.ag. They now only trail the Yankees, who are listed as the favorites at 7/2.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, are now slapped with 33/1 odds to win the Fall Classic, tying them with the White Sox, Reds, Athletics and Padres at No. 15 overall.
Boston was given 12/1 odds at the start of the offseason, and have fallen ever since. It’s been a tumultuous winter for the Red Sox, who fired their manager, Alex Cora, for his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and are still awaiting the results of MLB’s investigation into their own shenanigans. Three former team officials and players allege the Red Sox stole signs with electronics during their 2018 championship campaign.
A more in-depth breakdown of the franchise-altering trade is below. Both the Dodgers and Red Sox will be defined by this move for a long while.
Dodgers: Instant World Series favorites
The Dodgers have won 100 games for three straight seasons and fallen short of a championship each time. Their shortcomings taste especially sour now, given the revelations about their two most recent World Series foes, the Astros and Red Sox.
But they will return next season with the deepest lineup in the NL, featuring Betts at the top. The 27-year-old star has finished first, second, sixth and eighth in MVP voting during his career. He’s one of the best players in baseball, and rightfully the favorite to capture NL MVP honors (5/1).
Price, meanwhile, was the Red Sox’ best pitcher through the first months of 2019. The Dodgers reportedly agreed to eat half of the $96 million remaining on his deal. He was incredible in the 2018 World Series, winning Game 7 on three days’ rest. LA will slot him behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw in a star-studded rotation.
Red Sox: Welcome to rebuilding
It is an organizational failure for the Red Sox to put themselves in a position where they would even consider trading Betts. But they want to get under the luxury tax, and with Betts seemingly intent on testing next year’s free agent market, they dealt him away.
WEEI’s Lou Merloni reports the Red Sox offered Betts 10 years and $300 million, leading him to counter with 12 years and $420 million. Luckily for the Red Sox, Betts’ free agency is still one year away. There was room to work things out.
The Red Sox should never trade homegrown star players in the primes of their careers for cost-cutting purposes. But that’s what happened here. Verdugo, 23, is a promising outfielder — he slashed .294/.342/.475 last season — and Graterol is a top-100 pitching prospect. But on paper, the 2020 Red Sox are much worse than last season’s iteration.
That is inexcusable. They are rightfully sharing World Series odds with the Reds and Padres.