The Boston Red Sox have a decision to make with Mookie Betts, and if they decide to trade him, several National League teams reportedly are interested.
UPDATE (Monday, Jan. 27 at 3:05 p.m. ET): The Diamondbacks no longer make sense as a potential Mookie Betts trade destination after they reportedly acquired Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte on Monday.
Outfielder Starling Marte has been traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Arizona Diamondbacks, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 27, 2020
--End of Update--
Betts is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming 2020 season, and he's poised to land a potentially record-breaking deal at that time.
If the Red Sox don't want to pay that kind of money to retain Betts, or if he wants to test free agency and not sign an extension with Boston beforehand, then it makes sense for the franchise to explore possible trade packages. Betts leaving in free agency and the Red Sox getting nothing of value in return would be a huge setback to the roster.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres reportedly are interested in a Betts trade, and over the weekend, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported a third National League West team that could be in the mix.
The Red Sox need to maximize their leverage with two and possibly three NL West teams in the bidding — the Diamondbacks, whose GM, Mike Hazen, and manager, Torey Lovullo, previously were with the Red Sox, also have shown interest in Betts, sources say. But finances likely are a greater issue for the Diamondbacks, and their farm system ranks only 16th according to Baseball America, well behind the Padres at No. 2 and the Dodgers at No. 5.
The Padres are the team most in need of Betts after finishing 36 games behind the Dodgers at the bottom of the NL West standings in 2019. San Diego ranked 13th of 15 NL teams in runs scored last season. It also ranked 10th in home runs, 15th in batting average and 13th in on-base percentage.
Betts, in addition to being one of the premier defensive outfielders in baseball, also is a fantastic hitter. He's won three Silver Slugger awards over the last four years, as well as the 2018 AL MVP award. Betts batted .295 with 29 homers, 80 RBI and a .390 on-base percentage in 150 games last season.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was asked at a press conference earlier this month about Betts being on the Opening Day roster, and he said “That’s really been my expectation all along.” Betts still might be in the Red Sox lineup when they open the 2020 season March 26 against the Toronto Blue Jays, but these reports indicate the team is at least willing to examine different trade packages involving its best player before the season begins.