Red Sox

Dodgers have prospects to trade for Red Sox' Mookie Betts, and here are names you need to know

Dodgers have prospects to trade for Red Sox' Mookie Betts, and here are names you need to know

Any team acquiring Mookie Betts this winter needs two items in abundance: money and prospects. A wide-open contention window, an opening in the outfield, and a home in the National League — where Betts can't haunt the Red Sox directly during the season — would be added pluses.

It doesn't take an advanced knowledge of Venn Diagrams to recognize that one team sits in the overlap of all of those circles — the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Blessed with a $200 million payroll, a perennially Top-10-rated farm system, and the need for a player to put them over the top after three straight near-misses, the Dodgers should be considered a prime destination for Betts this winter.

If we operate on the assumption that the Red Sox will be moving the former MVP primarily for cost-controlled prospects in order to keep their payroll manageable and allow them to build for the future, then it's worth considering whom they might receive from L.A. in return. And the possibilities are tantalizing.

The Dodgers are loaded not only with prospects, but redundancy at certain positions that could make a deal more likely.

Start in the outfield. MVP Cody Bellinger isn't going anywhere, and A.J. Pollock is signed through 2022, but there's an opportunity to upgrade Joc Pederson's spot. The natural heir apparent is Alex Verdugo, a consensus top-35 prospect who hit .294 with an .817 OPS in 106 games last season.

The 23-year-old would be the perfect Betts replacement, however, thanks to a high-contact, all-fields approach at the plate, a howitzer of an arm in right, and solid overall instincts. He'd be a steep price to pay, but Betts would still represent a clear 2020 upgrade, and he'd solve a corner outfield logjam by shifting to center.

Another name to remember is catcher Keibert Ruiz. Signed out of Venezuela in 2014, all he has done since is hit, posting a .299 average and .351 on-base percentage despite consistently being one of the youngest players at each stop in the minors.

Baseball America's most recent list of L.A.'s top 30 prospects includes no fewer than three catchers in the top 10, which means that Ruiz, 20, could be dealt from a position of strength. His former Triple-A teammate, Will Smith, got the call to L.A. this season and posted a .907 OPS with 15 homers in just 54 games behind the plate.

Continuing up the middle, the team's top prospect is shortstop Gavin Lux, and the odds of the Red Sox receiving him for what could amount to a one-season rental of Betts are nil. However, Lux does create the possibility of the Dodgers dealing middle infielder Jeter Downs, a former Reds first-rounder who came to L.A. in the Yasiel Puig deal.

Downs was born in Colombia and raised in Miami, and yes, his first name is exactly what you think. His dad named him after the Yankees great and Downs showed considerable power potential this season by smacking 24 homers between High A and Double A at age 20. He'd fit a Red Sox roster with no clear internal choice to play second base moving forward and the organization is familiar with his family, since his older brother, Jerry, is a first baseman in the Red Sox system.

On the pitching side of the equation, the Dodgers are also blessed with talent. Their top pitching prospect, right-hander Dustin May, is likely unavailable — his sinker hit 99 mph this season — but fellow righty Josiah Gray could be an option. Also acquired in the Puig deal, the 21-year-old owns a 13-4 record and 2.37 ERA in two seasons. He reached Double A in 2019 and went 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA in eight starts while striking out more than a batter an inning.

A former shortstop who didn't convert to the mound until his final year of college, Gray's athleticism is off the charts, and his breakout 2019 earned him Dodgers minor league pitcher of the year honors.

If the Red Sox are looking for someone more big-league ready, they could ask for right-hander Tony Gonsolin. The 25-year-old made six starts for the Dodgers and was effective, going 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 11 appearances. Another former college position player, he's the rare prospect to transition from reliever to starter, and he has done so with tremendous success, hitting 100 mph with his fastball and also featuring a plus splitter and curveball.

Any two of these players would make the start of an intriguing package, so keep your eyes on L.A. as the Betts rumor mill starts churning in earnest when the winter meetings open Dec. 8 in San Diego.

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Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

After being non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers, could a return to the Boston Red Sox be in order for Travis Shaw?

With Mitch Moreland hitting free agency, the Red Sox should be in the market for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. That makes Shaw an obvious fit, and the 29-year-old agrees a reunion with Boston would make sense.

Shaw discussed the situation with Rob Bradford on WEEI's Bradfo Sho podcast

"I got non-tendered this week. It was kind of a hard decision. The Brewers did offer me but I decided I kind of wanted a fresh start and was willing to risk to see what was out there free agent-wise," Shaw told Bradford. "Just wanted a fresh start after everything that happened last year. Like you said, [signing with the Red Sox] makes sense on paper now we’ll see with who else call or what other teams call. That’s kind of what we’re sorting through now. We’ve had quite a bit of interest so far over this week which is an encouraging sign for me. We’ll just go from there."

Before the 2017 season, the Red Sox traded Shaw to the Brewers in the deal that brought reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. In his first two years with Milwaukee, Shaw was an integral part of the offense with 30+ home runs and an OPS well above .800. Last season, however, Shaw missed some time with a wrist injury and saw his production dip significantly.

Assuming Shaw can return to the type of player we saw in '17 and '18, he makes for an intriguing option for Boston in free agency. Along with his potential at the plate, Shaw brings versatility to the table as he can adequately play multiple positions.

Right-handed sluggers Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec currently are the Red Sox' options at first base. Chavis was solid in his 2019 rookie campaign, and Dalbec enters 2020 as one of the organization's top prospects.

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MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

The start of baseball's offseason has included some thank-the-lord movement, with a second-tier starter (Zack Wheeler) landing a $118 million deal from the Phillies and the hyperactive Rays dealing away a stalwart outfielder (Tommy Pham), much to the chagrin of ace Blake Snell.

With baseball's annual winter meetings beginning on Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, all eyes will be on Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox, who have yet to make a major move, but will soon be on the clock.

So, what can we expect? Here are five areas of focus.

1. IS THERE A MOOKIE BETTS TRADE?

The Red Sox would be crazy not to consider deals for Betts if they believe he intends on reaching free agency, which he has made clear both publicly and privately over the last two years. They'd be crazier to give him away for nothing, however, and thus begins the dance of the offseason. The question they must answer is, "How much is too little?" and then draw a line in the warning-track sand. Potential trade partners like the White Sox and Braves have already spent aggressively, which means a Betts deal likely needs to happen sooner than later, since whomever acquires him must fit $28 million into their 2019 payroll and pretty soon that money will start disappearing. One team to watch: the Dodgers, who have money to spend, prospects to trade, and a World Series hill to climb after three straight near-misses.

2. DEALING DAVID PRICE

Chris Sale just started throwing, per WEEI.com, and his five-year, $145 million extension kicks in on Opening Day. Selling low on the potentially dominant left-hander is a recipe for regret, especially since his contract could end up being pretty reasonable if he returns to health. The better trade candidate is Price, who turns 35 in August and has three years and $96 million remaining on a contract that's more likely to provide diminishing returns, but paradoxically includes fewer short-term questions. We laid out the case for Price being an actual trade asset on Thursday; as free agent pitchers leave the market, someone will be left short, and maybe Price becomes a target.

3. FINDING A STARTER (OR TWO)

Trading Price may ease the financial crunch on a team hoping to drop below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, but it will blow another hole in a rotation that's already down one starter with the presumed departure of free agent Rick Porcello. The Red Sox obviously won't be in on Astros ace Gerrit Cole or Nationals World Series hero Stephen Strasburg. They also can't afford Madison Bumgarner or maybe even old friend Wade Miley. Will they go the opener route? Take a flier on a reclamation project like Felix Hernandez or Michael Wacha? Try to turn center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. into a starter? Here's where Bloom's creativity will be put to the test.

4. SURPRISE US

Until he starts dealing, Bloom remains an enigma. He's beholden to no one on the roster, a position which allowed predecessor Dave Dombrowski to cut ties with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez while they were still owed money. Could Bloom decide a roster overhaul is in order and use a supposed foundational piece like All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts or outfielder Andrew Benintendi to swing a larger deal? We may start to get some clarity on his thoughts next week.

5. RIGHT SIDE OF THE INFIELD

At this time last year, the Red Sox were foolishly counting on 125 games out of second baseman Dustin Pedroia (he played six) and 162 out of a first base platoon of Mitch Moreland (91) and Steve Pearce (29). While some portion of either job could go to second-year slugger Michael Chavis, the Red Sox will be in the market for help at first and second, and this is a spot where Bloom helped unearth some legit finds in Tampa, from Carlos Pena to Logan Morrison to Ji-Man Choi. There should be no shortage of affordable options at first, in particular, from Justin Smoak to Travis Shaw to C.J. Cron.

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