Red Sox

MLB Rumors: A scenario emerging where the Red Sox hang on to Mookie Betts?

MLB Rumors: A scenario emerging where the Red Sox hang on to Mookie Betts?

Chaim Bloom may have sent Sandy Leon to the Cleveland Indians on Monday, but the Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer has much bigger decisions ahead. 

It was reported months ago that the Sox would attempt to move superstar Mookie Betts this offseason, but it seems that things have taken a turn. ESPN's Jeff Passan now is reporting baseball executives across the league think a trade involving Betts is unlikely to happen. 

If a Betts' trade isn't going to happen, Bloom will need to cut payroll elsewhere -- but how? 

Passan reports that Boston is looking to cut salary by trading a pitcher, and a prominent one at that. David Price or Nathan Eovaldi, who were instrumental to the Red Sox 2018 World Series Championship, reportedly are on the trading block. 

The Red Sox obviously are interested in locking up Betts to a long-term deal, but the right fielder would more than likely test the free-agent market after the 2020 season.

If Boston traded any of those players, they possibly could have a difficult season ahead. Betts hit .295 with 29 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .915 OPS in 2019 -- not to mention his stellar play in the field. It was a rather down year for Red Sox pitchers, but Eovaldi managed a 3.33 ERA, 48 strikeouts and a 3-3 record in 2018 with Boston. Price also had a down campaign in 2019 but had a 16-7 record the previous campaign with a 3.58 ERA and 177 strikeouts. 

While the rumor mill is heating up, it doesn't seem like any trade is imminent. 

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MLB rumors: Latest Red Sox asking price for a Mookie Betts trade revealed

MLB rumors: Latest Red Sox asking price for a Mookie Betts trade revealed

Mookie Betts' future with the Boston Red Sox beyond 2020 remains uncertain, and if another team wants to make a trade for the former American League MVP, it's going to cost quite a bit.

The Red Sox are in an interesting spot with Betts. He's a five-tool player with incredible offensive talents and plays Gold Glove-level defense in the outfield. However, if it looks like he's going to test free agency after next season, exploring a trade makes sense. Allowing a player of Betts' caliber to leave as an unrestricted free agent and get nothing of value in return would be a huge setback for the Red Sox.

The asking price the Red Sox currently have for Betts doesn't just involve getting quality talent in return, it also includes a team taking starting pitcher David Price's contract, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required).

Boston has indicated to other teams, according to sources, that any team that lands Betts will also have to take David Price (or Nathan Eovaldi presumably), with either most or all of the money owed to Price, $96 million. 

Olney also added Boston is "asking for two high-end prospects to front the deal."

It makes sense for Boston to find a taker for Price's contract. Price is still a quality pitcher, but he's no longer a $30-plus million type of starter, and getting rid of his salary would allow the Sox to invest in younger talent. He's also started more than 22 games just once over the last three years, which isn't the most ideal trend for a 34-year-old pitcher who's played more than 10 major league seasons.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in a press conference Wednesday that Betts being on the Opening Day roster has "really been my expectation all along.” Boston should do everything it can to extend Betts' contract and keep him in Boston for a long time. He's a top-five position player in baseball, and he's finished in the top eight of AL MVP voting each of the last four years. The 27-year-old superstar also owns four Gold Glove awards and three Silver Slugger awards.

Betts' future doesn't need to be decided right now, though. The trade deadline isn't until July 31. The priority for Boston is finding a new manager to replace Alex Cora. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a month.

J.D. Martinez: Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

SPRINGFIELD -- For five hours on Saturday morning at Winter Weekend, Red Sox players and coaches delivered basically the same message in regards to the 2018 cheating scandal: We're not at liberty to say anything until the league finishes its investigation.

And then J.D. Martinez stepped in front of the cameras.

The slugging DH, who earlier this offseason chose to remain in Boston rather than exercise an opt-out in his contract, minced no words when asked if the Red Sox did anything wrong during their championship 2018 season.

"You know, it sucks, to be honest with you," he said of the investigation. "It does suck. But you know what? I know I'm excited for the investigation to be over with just so that they can see that there was nothing going on here."

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So he believes the team is innocent of the charges that it used the replay room to steal opposing signs in real time?

"I believe that, yes," Martinez said.

And what gives Martinez this confidence, despite a report to the contrary in The Athletic claiming that the Red Sox stole signs?

"Because I was in there," he said. "I saw what was. . . . Straight up, everyone seems to forget that in 2017 and '16 this team was a really good team. This team won 93 games those two years and then we just got better."

Martinez spoke without hesitation, and also saluted departed manager Alex Cora, while offering some insight into why Cora decided to leave the team.

"Kind of heartbroken about it," he said. "I talked to him before and I understood his side of it. He didn't want to be a distraction going into the season. I know it was wearing on him and his family, so I obviously feel for him and I wish him the best. But I know he played a big, big role for our team and he was one of my favorites, if not my favorite manager that I've had. It's going to be tough."