Red Sox

How Red Sox view Alex Verdugo, two prospects acquired in Mookie Betts trade

How Red Sox view Alex Verdugo, two prospects acquired in Mookie Betts trade

Chaim Bloom had to face the music Monday night and explain why the Boston Red Sox traded their best outfielder in a generation.

He also had to justify the haul the Red Sox got in return.

The Red Sox' Chief Baseball Officer insisted the three players Boston acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers -- outfielder Alex Verdugo, infield prospect Jeter Downs and catching prospect Connor Wong -- were a fair return for outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price.

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"It had to be a high bar for us to consider moving (Betts),” Bloom told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla., at a press conference. "In terms of the impact of the talented return we got and the impact that return could have on our future and the flexibility it allows us to build around it, this return met that bar."

Verdugo is the top prize: The 23-year-old broke into the majors three seasons ago and played 106 games for the Dodgers in 2019, batting .294 with an .817 OPS while playing all three outfield positions. He's major league-ready and should be Boston's Opening Day replacement for Betts in right field.

"Alex Verdugo is a really talented baseball player on both sides of the ball," Bloom said. "He can really hit and it’s not just power. He’s a really good hitter. Defensively, he can play all three positions. Tremendous arm, really showed himself last year in a very impressive full season debut. Showed himself as a very talented player.

"His instincts for the game are very good. He loves to play, loves to compete. He brings a lot of great things to the table."

Downs,'s No. 44 overall prospect in 2020, immediately becomes the Red Sox' top prospect. He'll likely start the season in Double-A Portland, but Bloom and the Sox seemingly view him as their second baseman of the future.

"Jeter Downs is a middle infielder who is a good athlete and a really good baseball player who this year, took a really big step forward offensively,” Bloom said.  

" ... We think he has the chance to be a complete player that can really impact us. Great kid who plays the game with really good feel and calmness. Someone we feel will be really comfortable in the moment."

Wong now is the Red Sox' top catching prospect, and while he has less upside -- he ranked 15th among Dodgers prospects prior to his trade -- Bloom and his staff were impressed by the 23-year-old's 24 home runs in 111 minor league games last season.

"He’s always had a good offensive approach and has come into some power," Bloom said. "He’s a really good athlete behind the plate, so good that he has played second and third before. Those guys are hard to find.

"When you have really good athletes behind the plate, they can sometimes exceed what you expect of them. So far, he’s progressed really well."

Bloom presents the optimist's view of this trade. The pessimist's view is that Boston couldn't even land one of Los Angeles' top two prospects -- infielder Gavin Lux and pitcher Dustin May -- and didn't acquire a pitching prospect after balking at Minnesota Twins hurler Brusdar Graterol's medical records.

It may be years before we find out which side got the better of this deal.

How David Price opting out of 2020 season impacts Red Sox, MLB

How David Price opting out of 2020 season impacts Red Sox, MLB

We won't see David Price in Dodger blue this season, after all.

The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher announced Saturday via Twitter he won't play in Major League Baseball's shortened 2020 season, citing health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dodgers said in a statement they fully support Price's decision.

A handful of other stars already have opted out of the 2020 season -- including Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond and Washington Nationals teammates Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross -- but Price is the biggest star yet to back out.

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From a business perspective, Price's decision saves the Red Sox some cash: Boston no longer has to pay its $5.7 million share of Price's $11.5 million prorated salary for 2020 after trading him to Los Angeles this offseason, per The Boston Globe's Alex Speier.

The Red Sox were just under the luxury tax for their 2020 payroll prior to the pandemic, and while the 2020 luxury tax in the age of COVID-19 has yet to be determined, per Speier, taking Price off their books gives them some flexibility.

But Price's decision obviously is about much more than money. A handful of players already have tested positive for COVID-19 since teams began training camps July 1, and the 34-year-old veteran is one of several players who have legitimate safety concerns about playing the season.

Price was expected to be a key rotation member for the World Series favorite Dodgers, and his decision to step away might cause others to follow his lead.

MLB, MLBPA announce initial coronavirus testing results

MLB, MLBPA announce initial coronavirus testing results

MLB and the MLB Players Association announced the results of the league's initial round of coronavirus testing on Friday.

According to their joint statement, 31 players and seven staff members tested positive out of the 3,185 total individuals tested (1.2 positivity rate). Nineteen of 30 teams had positive cases.

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While the results are promising, it's important to note there still will be significant health and safety hurdles for the league to avoid a spread when the 60-game season begins later this month. A number of teams, including the Boston Red Sox, started workouts Friday at their home ballparks.

Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Friday the team has some positive COVID-19 cases. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez did not join the rest of the team for the first day of workouts as he was "around somebody who was sick" and awaiting the results of his own coronavirus test.