Red Sox

MLB Rumors: What return could Red Sox get back in a Mookie Betts trade?

MLB Rumors: What return could Red Sox get back in a Mookie Betts trade?

As baseball's GM meetings roll on in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the biggest headlines continues to be Mookie Betts' uncertain future.

With the former MVP entering the last season of his contract — and the Red Sox looking to shed payroll — one of the biggest decisions facing Boston's chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is whether to keep Betts around in 2020 or deal him away for as much as he can find on the open market.

But what type of package could Boston receive in exchange for Betts?

In an article for The Athletic, former MLB Executive of the Year Jim Bowden, now an analyst for MLB Network, looked at three possible trade partners and what they could offer in a Betts trade. Bowden considered what the Diamondbacks received in exchange for Paul Goldschmidt last offseason, knowing that Betts should fetch more in a trade, and for the purposes of this exercise, he stayed away from players who would be on 25-man rosters right now.

Here's what he came up with for potential destinations and returns (all prospect rankings courtesy MLB Pipeline):

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Catcher Keibert Ruiz: #3 prospect in LAD organization; 20 years old, .261 BA, 6 HR, 34 RBI in AA & AAA in 2019
Middle infielder Jeter Downs: #5 prospect in LAD organization; 21 years old, .276 BA, 24 HR, 86 RBI in A & AAA in 2019
RHP Josiah Gray: #4 prospect in LAD organization; 21 years old, 11-2 record, 2.28 ERA, 147 K in 130 IP in A & AA in 2019

Bowden posits that the Dodgers would likely put pitchers Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin as well as middle infielder Gavin Lux in the off-limits category for a rental player like Betts.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Outfielder Randy Arozarena: #10 prospect in STL organization; 24 years old, .344 BA, 15 HR, 53 RBI in AA & AAA in 2019 (.300 BA in 19 MLB games in 2019)
Third baseman Elehuris Montero: #4 prospect in STL organization; 21 years old, .194 BA, 7 HR, 18 RBI in rookie league & AA in 2019
Catcher Andrew Knizner: #3 prospect in STL organization; 24 years old, .276 BA, 12 HR, 34 RBI in AAA in 2019 (.226 BA in 18 MLB games in 2019)

Like the Dodgers, Bowden has several top young Cardinals players off the board, like pitchers Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson as well as prospects Dylan Carson and Nolan Gorman

ATLANTA BRAVES

Outfielder Drew Waters: #2 prospect in ATL organization; 20 years old, .309 BA, 7 HR, 52 RBI in AA & AAA in 2019
LHP Kyle Muller: #7 prospect in ATL organization; 22 years old, 7-6, 3.14 ERA, 120 K in 111.2 IP in AA in 2019
Catcher William Contreras: #8 prospect in ATL organization; 21 years old, .255 BA, 6 HR, 39 RBI in A & AA in 2019

For the purposes of this exercise, Bowden suggested the Braves wouldn't part with these players: outfielder Cristian Pache, pitchers Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright, and catcher Shea Langeliers.

Considering the potential returns from these clubs, Bowden suggests the Red Sox would be better off holding onto Betts and making a run with him on the roster in 2020, especially since draft-pick compensation if he left after next season wouldn't really be able to contribute at the major league level until 2024 — or later.

While Chaim Bloom and the Sox front office evaluate all options, it'll be a wait-and-see situation for Red Sox fans.

Report: 'Great skepticism' teams will pay up for Betts>>>>>

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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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