Boston Red Sox

MLB rumors: Giants' NL West rival Dodgers interested in Mookie Betts

MLB rumors: Giants' NL West rival Dodgers interested in Mookie Betts

The Giants will see Madison Bumgarner plenty next season, but he will not be sporting the orange and black. Instead, he will wear the vast array of shades the Arizona Diamondbacks possess.

The NL West will still host the rivalry of the Giants and Dodgers, but perhaps that rivalry will be more intense with the addition of Mookie Betts.

The Dodgers have "engaged in exploratory talks" with the Boston Red Sox about outfielder Mookie Betts, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported, citing two officials with direct knowledge of the discussions.

It's looking more and more likely Betts will be traded with just a year of team control remaining before he hits the free agent market. He would either be a part of a trade, or the Red Sox could hold on to him for another year. If the latter was the case, the Red Sox would only receive draft pick compensation after the 2020 season if they made a qualifying offer to Betts, he declined it and then signed with another team.

If Los Angeles was to take on the four-time All-Star, he could make an enormous impact. A career .301/.374/.519 hitter with an AL MVP honor in 2018 and in MVP discussions every season since 2015. And he's only 27-years-old.

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The Dodgers are a bit heartbroken after losing the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes to the Yankees and beyond searching for an additional starting pitcher, they want a right-handed bat. That could be Betts, but it could also mean Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor to sport the blue in Southern California. He's been of interest as well. 

Either way, that's a benefit for the Dodgers and more of a headache for the Giants squad.

Can Giants match reported Red Sox asking price in Mookie Betts trade?

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AP

Can Giants match reported Red Sox asking price in Mookie Betts trade?

In each of the last two offseasons, the Giants pursued a star outfielder. Could the third time be the charm?

Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts could be the crown jewel this offseason, with the AL East power publicly saying it will be "difficult" to keep Betts and outfielder J.D. Martinez. The 2018 AL MVP's teammates are preparing for a season without him, and Boston reportedly has set its asking price.

SNY's Matthew Cerrone reported Tuesday that the Red Sox would "need to replace [Betts] in the lineup, add an affordable, team-controlled, mid-rotation starter and bring in at least two top 100 prospects" if they traded him. Unsurprisingly, there would be no shortage of suitors.

Citing "league insiders," Cerrone wrote that the San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers could be "capable of putting together an appealing package for Betts." If the Los Angeles Dodgers were interested, the Red Sox "would likely ask for" outfielder Joc Pederson and right-handed pitcher Kenta Maeda, in addition to the pair of prospects. 

So, how could the Giants fit in this mix? According to MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, San Francisco has four top 100 prospects in its system: Catcher Joey Bart, outfielder Heliot Ramos, shortstop Marco Luciano and outfielder Hunter Bishop. The Giants have begun to re-stock their bare prospect cupboard over the last two years, and Bart and Ramos could continue their climb through the team's minor-league system and move to Triple-A as soon as next season. Luciano just turned 18 last month, while Bishop just completed his first season in pro baseball.

Those four are the Giants' brightest sources of hope, but it's fair to wonder if they -- or, frankly, any prospect -- can ever reach the level Betts has. Even in a down 2019, Betts rebounded down the stretch and ultimately still was worth 6.6 Wins Above Replacement by Fangraphs' measure. He has been far more productive up to this point in his career than top 2019 free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were. Trading prospects always is a gamble, but Betts is likely to live up to his price tag. 

The Giants could pay one portion of it, but they probably don't have the major league talent to match the Red Sox's reported asking price. While Kevin Pillar could entice Boston, big-money starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto would seem to be bad fits for a team looking to shed payroll. 

Of course, the Red Sox don't have a lot of leverage. They've made it known they want to get below the competitive balance tax, and teams aren't going to want to give one of baseball's richest any kind of help. Even though Boston would have a 28-team bidding war on its hands if it decided to trade Betts, the Red Sox wouldn't be in an advantageous position with their desperation to shed salary so widely known.

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Boston might make it all moot and trade Martinez instead, but it goes without saying that pursuing a trade for Betts is worth the Giants' time. The same can be said for the rest of baseball. 

It certainly would make missing out on Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper in back-to-back offseasons much easier for the Giants to swallow. 

Recap of retirement gifts Giants' Bruce Bochy received on farewell tour

Recap of retirement gifts Giants' Bruce Bochy received on farewell tour

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point next week, Giants manager Bruce Bochy will begin the process of packing up his office of 13 years. The hard part is done. Bullwinkle, a gigantic stuffed elk head that hung in his office for most of this decade, is now living in a local bar.

But Bochy still has plenty to pack, especially after a season-long farewell tour. It's been emotional at times, filled with tributes from longtime friends and touching videos from longtime opponents. It also has been lucrative for a man who loves wine and will officially be off the clock next Monday.  

Perhaps the first sip will come from a bottle Bob Melvin presented during a ceremony in August. Or the one that was left in his office in Atlanta by a visitor who wanted to say thanks. Maybe the first drink will come from the bottle of bourbon Alex Cora sent over last week, or the Sagamore Spirit Rye the Orioles gave Bochy early on. 

There will be plenty of time to get through it all, and plenty of fond memories. Here's a rundown of some of the highlights from the farewell tour: 

--- Reds: The first team to acknowledge Bochy with a pre-game tribute, they hosted the Giants in early May and had David Bell present custom wine glasses, a carafe and a custom bourbon ice chest from a local company. 

--- Orioles: This one stood out a bit and deserves to be remembered simply because the NL team in the region, the Nationals, didn't even acknowledge Bochy's retirement -- no gift, no video, not even an announcement to fans. Perhaps they're still bitter about Jordan Zimmermann. 

When the Giants came back to the area a few weeks later to face the Orioles, a team they rarely see, Brandon Hyde met Bochy and presented the rye and engraved glasses. Hyde is from Santa Rosa. 

"He's somebody I truly admire," Hyde said. "He's a Hall-of-Fame level manager that has done a lot of great things in this game. Really cool to be on the same field as him, and I think he appreciated it. It's the least we could do."

--- Padres: Bochy's former (and future?) employer pulled out all the stops. There was a pregame ceremony led by Padres chairman Ron Fowler and former players Steve Finley, Carlos Hernandez, Mark Sweeney and Andy Ashby and they gave Bochy fishing poles, a custom bottle of wine and a frame full of photos from his time in San Diego. 

The Padres also played an excellent tribute video:

"I appreciate that, I really do," Bochy said. "It's not what I was looking for in my last year but it means something to me."

--- Marlins: Sergio Romo, later traded to the Twins, visited the clubhouse when the Giants were in Miami and gave Bochy a bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila

"I gave him a token of appreciation for the faith and trust that he had in me for all those years," Romo told MLB.com. "I feel I can count the amount of people that have taken a chance on me in my life on two hands, and he's on that. He's one of those fingers."

Bochy also met privately with Derek Jeter, the Marlins' CEO, and it's said that Jeter presented a nice gift. 

--- Diamondbacks and Rockies: The NL West opponents see Bochy for six series a year, and they clearly got to know him well. Both gave Bochy a chance to do something he loves. 

The Rockies presented a weekend retreat at a Colorado ranch and also gave Bochy the "SF" from their scoreboard. The Diamondbacks gave him an all-expenses-paid trip to Montana to go fly fishing. 

--- Cubs: Team president Theo Epstein, who worked with Bochy in San Diego, joioned Joe Maddon and bench coach Mark Loretta to hand Bochy the No. 15 tile from the scoreboard at Wrigley Field. 

--- Red Sox: They brought a large group out onto the field, including manager Alex Cora, former big league managers Tony La Russa and Ron Roenicke, and executives Brian O'Halloran and Mike Rikard, both of whom worked with Bochy in San Diego. The Red Sox gave him a chair from Fenway that celebrated win No. 2,000:

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--- Dodgers: The rivals might have had the best tribute of all. After all, they so respected Bochy that they were willing to show highlights of the Giants winning the World Series: 

Vin Scully narrated a video and Dave Roberts presented Bochy with a signed jersey from Sandy Koufax, one of his favorite players when he was growing up in Florida. Bochy was extremely touched by the whole presentation, but politely declined when Roberts asked him to take the microphone and say a few words to a sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium.

"I was afraid lightning would hit me," Bochy said later, smiling. "There's a Giant talking to a Dodger crowd, there's no way I'm not going to get hit here."