Red Sox

Pros (prospects!) and cons (Wil Myers?) of potential Mookie Betts trade to Padres

Pros (prospects!) and cons (Wil Myers?) of potential Mookie Betts trade to Padres

With multiple reports revealing that the Padres and Red Sox have discussed a Mookie Betts trade, here are some thoughts on what it all means ...

MONEY MATTERS

The money doesn't really work for me. In swapping Betts for outfielder/first baseman Wil Myers, the Red Sox would save $13 million in 2020, which gets them roughly two-thirds of the way towards their goal of dropping below the $208 million luxury tax threshold. Maybe San Diego kicks in some cash to increase that number.

Boston would then be assuming the final three years and $68.5 million remaining on Myers' contract (including a $1 million buyout in 2023), though for luxury tax purposes, he'd only count for just under $14 million annually.

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If the Red Sox are intent on slashing $21 million in payroll, jettisoning Betts and still coming up well short of that goal feels suboptimal.

Put another way: if the Red Sox carry Betts into the season and then trade him at the deadline, they'd save about $9 million. Is that $4 million difference worth four months of Betts to see if the Red Sox can contend?

From this view, that's a yes.

L.A. STORY

I'd still rather move David Price and the $32 million he's owed in 2020 to find the savings the Red Sox need, and that's why the Dodgers remain their most logical trade partners.

L.A. has the need for the five-tool outfielder after two World Series losses and one shocking NLDS ouster, it has the financial and prospect resources to acquire both Betts and Price, and it could actually use another starter, to boot.

Add Andrew Friedman's familiarity with Price from their Tampa days, and these Padres discussions feel more like a way to goose the Dodgers to the table rather than watch a star player join a division rival.

WHERE THERE'S A WIL ...

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom knows Myers well from Tampa, where the slugger was one of the centerpieces of the 2012 trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City.

Myers won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2013 in what was a remarkably weak class — former Red Sox infielder Jose Iglesias finished second — and made an All-Star team in 2016 with the Padres, but has trended noticeably downward since. Injuries limited him to 83 games in 2018, and last year he hit only .239 with 18 homers while striking out 168 times.

If the Red Sox are going to take Myers, they absolutely need the Padres to pick up some of his salary, because there's a real possibility he has reached the JAG portion of his career.

BUYER BEWARE

Granted, this little bit of egregiousness happened on Dave Dombrowski's watch, but how quickly the Red Sox forget the pitfalls of dealing with A.J. Preller.

The Padres GM was suspended by MLB for withholding medical information that would've revealed more extensive damage to the elbow of left-hander Drew Pomeranz before the Red Sox acquired him in 2016.

The Red Sox surrendered their top pitching prospect, right-hander Anderson Espinoza, and by the time San Diego's malfeasance was revealed, the Red Sox decided it was too late to undo the deal.

Espinoza has since needed a pair of Tommy John surgeries, leaving his career very much in doubt, but the Red Sox shouldn't forget how badly Preller burned them.

FARM FRESH

If there's one plus to a potential San Diego deal, it's that the Red Sox would be choosing players from one of baseball's most loaded farm systems, as we laid out here.

A couple of names to watch: imposing Cuban right-hander Michel Baez, a 6-foot-8 behemoth who is a potential future closer, and catcher Luis Campusano, who is considered one of the best young backstops in the minors.

Darwinzon Hernandez: 'I’m ready' to be a starter

Darwinzon Hernandez: 'I’m ready' to be a starter

The Boston Red Sox have serious concerns with their pitching staff. With Chris Sale out for the long haul after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox are down to just a few known commodities among their starting rotation.

Eduardo Rodriguez will be the team's ace. Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez will follow him in the rotation. But the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are a bit harder to predict.

Before Sale's surgery and before the MLB shut down operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed like Ryan Weber was the leading candidate to earn a job in the back end of the rotation. If he's the fourth starter, that will leave the Sox with just one hole to fill in the fifth starter slot.

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And one possibility for that role would be Darwinzon Hernandez. The left-hander pitched in 29 games for the Red Sox last season logging a 4.45 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings pitched. Hernandez only made one start for the Sox, but he considers himself to be a starter at the MLB level. 

"Everyone knows I’d love to start. Absolutely," Hernandez said, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. "That is what every pitcher wants and I still feel like I can do it. I enjoyed being a reliever and I’ll do whatever the team asks. The important thing is to be on the team. But, yes, I want to start."

Hernandez was a starter during his time in the minor leagues and has started at least 12 games per season since 2015. The 23-year-old still has a lot of upside and he believes that he's ready to take on a starting job.

"I’m ready. I’ve matured as [a] pitcher,” Hernandez said through a translator. "In the minors, I would just throw but when I got to the majors, they taught me how to pitch and the importance of working hard and locating your pitches, mixing your pitches. I learned how to pitch and not just throw."

Of course, the decision will ultimately come down to Ron Roenicke. And the Sox skipper at least seemed open to Hernandez battling for a starting job before spring training was shut down.

"You have to consider [starting Hernandez]," Roenicke said last month, per Abraham. "He’s still a young pitcher and there’s a lot to work with. I could see us looking at this again and giving him a chance to start."

Hernandez will have some competition for that final spot. The Red Sox did sign Collin McHugh after Sale's setback. The former Houston Astros pitcher could be a starter or bullpen arm, but he'll have to get healthy first. He was battling an elbow injury upon joining the team and it's unclear exactly when he'll return to action.

The team could also choose to use the opener strategy that the Tampa Bay Rays have popularized in recent seasons. Could that involve Hernandez playing that role? Or being the "bulk" guy to take on innings once the opener is done? It's surely possible.

It's tough to know what the Red Sox are going to do with their rotation. They'll likely have to mix and match things if and when the season does begin. But that could be a while away.

For the time being, Roenicke will have more time to think about just how he wants his pitching staff to shake out. And with rosters to be expanded in wake of the pandemic, per Joel Sherman of The New York Post, Roenicke may opt to try a few different solutions before settling on his preferred option.

Judge tosses suit against MLB for sign-stealing scheme, but rips Red Sox and Astros

Judge tosses suit against MLB for sign-stealing scheme, but rips Red Sox and Astros

The lawsuit against Major League Baseball filed by daily fantasy game players, who claimed to be defrauded by the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, has been dismissed, but not without harsh criticism of the teams by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in his ruling blasted the Red Sox and Astros for "shamelessly" breaking both baseball's rules and "the hearts of all true baseball fans."

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In throwing out the suit brought by five daily fantasy players, Rakoff invoked the New England Patriots "Spygate" scandal from 2007, agreeing with MLB lawyers' contention that rulings in similar suits brought by fans against the NFL after the Patriots were caught illegally taping opponents' defensive signals had set a legal precedent for this suit to be dismissed. 

While the suit charged that the Red Sox and Astros had engaged in consumer fraud that created "corrupt" and "dishonest" fantasy contest for companies such as Draft Kings, Rakoff agreed with previous decisions in the NFL cases that ruled fans should know teams will look for any advantage - even "foul deeds" - to try and win.

From Rakoff's ruling: 

[D]id the initial efforts of those teams, and supposedly of Major League Baseball itself, to conceal these foul deeds from the simple sports bettors who wagered on fantasy baseball create a cognizable legal claim? On the allegations here made, the answer is no.

The Astros' sign-stealing scheme led MLB to fine the team $5 million and the one-year suspensions and subsequent firings of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The Red Sox then parted ways with manager Alex Cora, who, according to MLB's findings, was the mastermind of the scheme as Houston's bench coach in 2017. 

That team won the World Series, as did the 2018 Red Sox, who are accused of using a similar system to steal signs under Cora.

MLB has yet to release a report on the Red Sox allegations. Commissioner Rob Manfred said it has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but will be released before MLB begins its 2020 season. In comments last month in court an MLB lawyer seem to imply the Red Sox are aware of Manfred's findings and that they disagree with them.