The Dodgers have won two of the last three National League pennants. They won the most games in franchise history (106) in 2019 and were already going to be an NL favorite in 2020.
Tuesday, Los Angeles stamped their claim as the best team in the NL — and perhaps all of baseball. According to multiple reports, the Dodgers are set to acquire 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts from the Red Sox in a three-team deal featuring the Twins.
BREAKING: The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox that would send star outfielder Mookie Betts and starter David Price to the Dodgers, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Deal is pending medical reviews.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 5, 2020
The Minnesota Twins are the third team in the blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers if it passes medical reviews as expected, sources tell @kileymcd and me.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 5, 2020
Starter Kenta Maeda would go to the Minnesota Twins part of the Mookie Betts-David Price deal, sources tell ESPN. Outfielder Alex Verdugo and hard-throwing pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol, who has been with Minnesota, would go to the Red Sox, as @Ken_Rosenthal said.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 5, 2020
Many expected the Dodgers to make a big move in free agency, but they came up empty on the likes of Gerrit Cole (Yankees) and Anthony Rendon (Angels).
Los Angeles was still primed to add a big name, albeit through trade. They’ve been connected to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant this winter, and while Tuesday’s move doesn’t rule such a move out, it makes it less necessary. In Betts, the Dodgers have added an elite talent, all while not dipping into their loaded farm system other clubs envy.
If the Dodgers don't make a move for Bryant, the most logical suitor for him is the Braves.
The Cubs are seeking young, controllable assets in a Bryant deal, which Atlanta has plenty of. The Braves have five top 100 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, two of which are pitchers in Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright.
During Theo Epstein's tenure as team president, developing starting pitchers has been the Cubs' Achilles' heel. Adding one of Anderson and Wright — along with another young pitcher — would address one of the Cubs' biggest needs.
Besides young pitching, third baseman Austin Riley could be a potential piece in a Bryant trade. Riley had a rough 2019, but he was a well-regarded prospect last season and would serve as Bryant's replacement at the hot corner.
Other potential Bryant suitors include the Rangers, Nationals and Rockies, all of whom have been linked to him this winter.
The Rangers don't have as widely regarded of a farm system as other potential suitors, so it’s hard to see Bryant getting dealt there. The Nationals have been disinclined to include 22-year-olds Victor Robles (center fielder) and Carter Kieboom (infielder) in Bryant negotiations, per reports. If that’s the case, it’s unlikely Bryant is traded to the nation’s capital.
Colorado and the Cubs reportedly have discussed a one-for-one deal involving Bryant and Rockies star Nolan Arenado. That would require the Rockies eating a portion of Arenado’s mega-deal (owed $234 million through 2026) or the Cubs trading another player to offset salary, as their goal is to get under the luxury tax this season.
The logistics of such an Arenado-Bryant move make it highly improbable. This brings us back to the Braves.
Atlanta recently signed slugging outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but that shouldn’t stop them from pursuing Bryant. The Braves are all in on 2020, and adding Bryant would make them a true contender alongside the Dodgers for the NL pennant. Whether that brings the two teams together is to be seen.