Red Sox

Mookie Betts and the Red Sox have four options to weigh this winter

Mookie Betts and the Red Sox have four options to weigh this winter

The Red Sox must determine how to proceed with Mookie Betts this winter, and fast.

If they're going to keep the former MVP, the sooner they know it the better, because fitting his $30 million into a $208 payroll will not only take some serious creativity, it will leave them rifling through clearance racks to fill the rest of the roster.

We are all aware of their four possible paths: trade Betts now, trade him by July 31, let him play out the season and become a free agent, or sign him to an extension.

Some of those possibilities feel more likely than others, which is why we're here to apply some odds.

1. Trade him now: 55 percent

This still feels like the most probable course of action, given Betts' off-stated desire to reach free agency and the franchise's equivalent determination to get something for him before he leaves. Better to rip off that Band-Aid now, even if it means losing a little leg hair in the process.

Any team acquiring Betts needs to be able to fit his salary into its payroll, and that's more easily accomplished earlier in the offseason, especially since there's little chance the Red Sox contribute anything towards his salary. The optics of trading Betts are bad enough — paying someone else to take him would be inexcusable.

2. Trade him in July: 15 percent

There's some appeal to this approach, which gives the Red Sox a chance to make one final run with their Gold Glove- and Silver Slugger-winning right fielder, especially if the offers this winter prove underwhelming.

But there's one obvious flaw — what if July 31 arrives and the Red Sox find themselves in contention? At last year's trade deadline, for instance, a staggering 11 National League teams owned between 50 and 57 wins. Six of them could make legitimate cases for the wild card.

Good luck justifying a trade of your best player in that scenario, even if it's the right long-term move. Better to deal him now before putting new boss Chaim Bloom in that no-win situation.

3. Let him play out season: 20 percent

Former GM Theo Epstein used to bristle at the concept of trading a player before he could "walk away for nothing" by noting that a final season of All-Star production carries considerable value.

If the Red Sox can figure out how to absorb Betts' 2020 salary — perhaps by finding a taker for David Price and the $96 million remaining on his deal — there are worse problems to have than a lineup built around Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez.

If Chris Sale is healthy, that's a team that could win it all and then let whatever happens happen with Betts.

4. Extend him: 10 percent

It's sad that this feels like the least likely outcome, but we're just keeping it real.

There are two impediments to a long-term extension. One is Betts's aforementioned desire to hit the market and see what he's worth. The other is the very legitimate queasiness ownership might feel about extending anyone for more than 10 years.

That said, if Betts came to them with a reasonable number — say, 12 years and $340 million, slotting him between Bryce Harper and Mike Trout — there'd definitely be some in ownership pushing to get his signature to lock in the franchise cornerstone.

It doesn't feel like it's going to come to that, though, unless Betts experiences a change of heart about reaching free agency.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

In appreciation of Brock Holt, whose job with Red Sox might be gone, but whose legacy is secure

In appreciation of Brock Holt, whose job with Red Sox might be gone, but whose legacy is secure

The transactions came in quick succession as the winter meetings wrapped on Thursday in San Diego. First, the Red Sox selected infielder Jonathan Arauz from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. A couple of hours later, they inked infielder Jose Peraza to a one-year, $3 million deal.

Both are utility infielders, and their arrivals increase the likelihood that we'll be saying goodbye to Brock Holt this winter. 

From a bottom-line perspective, it's hard to argue. Holt turns 32 in June, has battled injuries the past four years and should make more than $3 million annually on a multi-year deal. The Red Sox need to get younger and cheaper, and that includes the bench.

If this is it, though, Holt deserves more of a sendoff than a line in the transaction wire, because his impact on the field, in the clubhouse, and especially in the community far outstripped his modest 5-foot-10 frame.

From high school (where he barely broke 100 pounds as a freshman) to junior college to Rice University to the major leagues, Holt beat long odds each step of the way. That a throw-in acquired with Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan before the 2013 season could earn Rookie of the Year votes and then make an All-Star team defied reason. That the same player would hit for the cycle not once, but twice -- including in the postseason -- while winning two World Series and becoming a gritty heart-and-soul fan favorite, let's just say guys hit that lottery maybe once in a generation.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"I know and I've kind of gotten a taste of it coming here that certain players just really seem to bond with the fan base," said new baseball boss Chaim Bloom. "He's certainly been one of those. That's not something that's lost on any of us."

Holt brought a fun-loving energy to a clubhouse that needed it in good times and bad. Boston can be a meat grinder even when things are going well, and supporting players who take the edge off are essential. Kevin Millar mastered that role in 2004, while Jonny Gomes followed suit in 2013. That was Holt's job, too, whether he was serving as Andrew Benintendi's All-Star publicist, re-christening the 10th month on the calendar as Brocktober, or wearing a Cobra Kai-inspired headband around the locker room that others soon copied.

Holt had a knack for cracking up his teammates. After Mitch Moreland's three-run homer delivered the team its first win of 2019 in Seattle, Holt sauntered past Moreland in the clubhouse with an ice cream cone, gave it a lick, and said, "Hey Mitch, my mom says, 'Way to go,'" and then just walked out. (His mom later confirmed this account on Twitter).

He famously asked a shorts-wearing Bill Belichick if he was, "going to put some pants on," before facing the Packers on a cold October night in 2018 when the Red Sox were honored by the Patriots as World Series champions.

The night he completed the first cycle in postseason history with a ninth-inning home run to complete a rout of the Yankees, the megawatt smile on Holt's face as he rounded third and returned to the dugout could've powered the sun.

Holt's joyful persona extended to his toddler son, Griff, a glasses-clad Instagram star who developed a cult following for giggling while raiding a box of Life Cereal in the pantry, or pointing at a billboard of David Ortiz and exclaiming, "Big Papi!" or hitting what he called, "Big bomb!" with an oversized whiffle ball bat.

Holt's many viral moments with his son became all the more poignant when viewed through the lens of his tireless devotion to children's causes. He's a four-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee for community service, and he routinely leads the Red Sox in charitable appearances. He served as Jimmy Fund captain for the past five years, and his Brock Stars ticket program brought a Jimmy Fund patient to every Tuesday home game for batting practice. Director of community relations Sarah Narracci has long referred to Holt as her "go-to guy" who never says no.

"He has a great heart," manager Alex Cora said when Holt was nominated for this year's Clemente award, and if this is indeed the end of Holt's Red Sox career, he'll leave an outsized legacy that "5-10, 180" doesn't begin to capture.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

MLB Rumors: These six teams pursued Martin Perez before Red Sox landed him

MLB Rumors: These six teams pursued Martin Perez before Red Sox landed him

Martin Perez is no Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. But the veteran left-hander reportedly drew a good amount of interest in free agency before the Boston Red Sox scooped him up.

A "handful" of MLB teams, including the American League East foe Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, pursued Perez before the Red Sox agreed to terms with him Thursday night, MassLive's Chris Cotillo reported.

Perez's surface-level stats aren't very inspiring: The 28-year-old posted a 5.12 ERA with the Minnesota Twins last season after the worst campaign of his career with the Texas Rangers in 2018 (6.22 ERA, 1.78 WHIP).

But what Perez does provide is durability: He's appeared in at least 32 games in three of the last four seasons, topping 165 innings in each of those campaigns.

Durable left-handers aren't a dime a dozen in MLB, which explains why Perez drew interest from several clubs looking to fill out their rotations entering 2020.

The Venezuela native should be a rotation-filler in Boston, projecting as Boston's fifth starter behind Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi with Rick Porcello leaving to join the New York Mets in free agency.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.