Red Sox

Mookie Betts and David Price are gone; what does it mean for the Red Sox?

Mookie Betts and David Price are gone; what does it mean for the Red Sox?

Let the gnashing of teeth begin over how a big-market team like the Boston Red Sox could cry poor and jettison a homegrown superstar, but this is the right deal.

Here's why: Mookie Betts planned to leave next fall and the Red Sox managed to land not only a promising replacement in highly touted 23-year-old Alex Verdugo, they're also unloading David Price (more on him in a minute) and what should be a decent chunk of the $96 million remaining on his contract.

The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have proven over the last few years what happens when one of the game's financial behemoths resets a bloated payroll -- it puts itself in a position to dominate.

The Dodgers lopped nearly $100 million before building the club that has averaged over 100 wins the last three years, while the Yankees famously sold off a number of veterans at the 2016 trade deadline in advance of 100 wins in 2018 and 2019.

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This isn't about the Red Sox suddenly cheaping out because they want to be the Tampa Bay Rays. It's a pragmatic decision that's looking beyond 2020, and it will serve them well in the long run, especially when Betts signs elsewhere next winter.

Gun to my head, do I believe Betts wanted to stay in Boston beyond this season?

No.

And if that's what the Red Sox think, then there's little point in keeping him in the hopes that an 84-win team suddenly discovers its mojo despite major question marks up and down the rotation. Better to get something now while they can.

The Price aspect shouldn't be underplayed. Removing (Some? Half? Most of?) his $96 million from the payroll means the Red Sox can begin contemplating free agents again next winter after sitting out this class.

The clubhouse will also benefit from his absence.

Price may be considered a good teammate by David Price, but jumping Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on a team flight and dressing down a reporter in the bowels of Yankee Stadium just because he could illustrated bullying tendencies that should ratchet down the grievance level as the Red Sox build a new culture around Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, two far more fun-loving players.

Price was not hard to read when it came to why he signed in Boston -- "They offered me the most money," he "joked" more than once -- and this trade is a lifeline for him. It removes him from a situation he only tolerated and never embraced, and it didn't cost him a penny to do it.

So what to make of the players coming back, Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol?

Verdugo is the bigger name in the deal. He's a promising young outfielder who profiles similarly to Andrew Benintendi's best-case scenario, if that makes sense: a high-average left-handed hitter with line drive power to all fields.

Unlike Benintendi, the former pitcher also boasts a cannon arm that makes him an ideal candidate to play right field in Fenway Park.

He hit .294 with 12 homers and an .817 OPS in 106 games with the Dodgers last year, when he began the season as a consensus top-35 prospect in baseball. The 23-year-old does come with a couple of red flags: he has admitted not paying enough attention to conditioning and nutrition, and of more concern, he's still rehabbing a back injury that cost him the final two months of last season.

Still, as far as centerpieces go, he's a talented one, and he should ease the loss of Betts, even if he'll never replace him.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds high opinion of Red Sox executive Chaim Bloom

chaim_bloom.jpg
File Photo

Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds high opinion of Red Sox executive Chaim Bloom

If you're an MLB general manager looking for an endorsement, there are few that you'd rather get it from than long-time New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

Cashman, who has been the Yankees' GM since 1998, is one of the longest-tenured GM's in baseball. Only Oakland Athletics Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane, hired in 1997, has been around longer than him. And during Cashman's tenure, the Yankees have won four World Series titles and have made the playoffs 18 times.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox have won also four World Series titles during that span, but they've gone through six different GMs/heads of baseball operations. Their latest hire was made this offseason when they lured Chaim Bloom away from the Tampa Bay Rays. And the man running the Yankees is a fan of Bloom's and thinks that he will run the Red Sox well.

"I think Chaim Bloom is going to be a fantastic general manager," Cashman said, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. "From my interactions with him, he’s got intellect. He’s got personality. He’s got empathy. I just feel like all of those attributes are going to serve him extremely well as he navigates running a big-market operation, one of the best franchises in the industry."

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That's some seriously high praise considering how well Cashman has guided the Yankees over the course of the past 22 years. Perhaps Bloom, 37, will have a chance to turn into a long-term staple of the Red Sox front office if he can live up to that potential.

So far, Bloom's tenure in Boston has been a rocky one. He had to deal with the fallout from Alex Cora's involvement in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal and also made the decision to trade Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Feb. 10.

The latter move may ultimately work out, especially considering that the team may not have been able to deal Betts amid the coronavirus pandemic with all MLB actions now frozen. But it was still a tough pill for some Sox fans to swallow considering Betts' talent compared to the lack of talent the team brought in during free agency.

At the end of the day though, it's still far too early to judge Bloom's moves. And he did get a solid haul in the revised edition of the Betts deal. If Cashman has confidence in him, that should be a good sign for the Red Sox and perhaps Bloom will bring stability to the team's front office for the first time in quite a while.

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers doesn't always have the easiest time preparing for games. 

After a breakout season in 2019 (.311, 32 homers, 115 RBI, .916 OPS), the 23-year-old has turned into one of Boston's best at the plate, but that doesn't mean he doesn't experience anxiety. 

The Boston Herald's Jason Mastrodonato sat down with Devers for an interview before the MLB postponed its season due to the coronavirus, and Devers indicated that he still feels a rush before games begin.

“The hardest thing I still go through is every game I still get this anxiousness of the game starting," Devers said, according to Mastrodonato. "It’s this happiness of being out there and being on the field and playing and getting over that anxiety. I’m just over-emotional about the opportunity and being out there playing.

“Because it’s not like a nervous thing, it’s more of an excited thing. That first inning is a big rush. But after that first inning settles, I get an at-bat and it’s like, alright, the game kind of settles. It’s just me being overly emotional about how happy I am.”

“It’s something I’ve been working on since I’ve been here. I’ve been working with previous people in the organization that led me to some of my breathing techniques that I do now. But it’s all about controlling myself. I know it. It’s still there and I’m still working on it. But I have gotten much better at it.”

Of course, you can tell that Devers can't wait to take the field -- he lights up like a kid on Christmas -- but you'd never know truly how emotional he gets. 

In three seasons with the Red Sox, Devers has hit .282 with 211 RBI, 63 home runs and a 5.8 WAR. Based on his 2019 stats, those pregame jitters must've been a little easier to deal with last season. 

Whatever's in store for the Red Sox in 2020, and whenever the baseball season begins, we should expect some big things from Devers in his fourth season.