Don’t you just hate it when you don’t have enough millions of dollars to spend on superstar players despite owning one of the most valuable franchises in MLB? Well, the Red Sox have that issue this offseason, as they’re trying to get below the luxury tax and that possibly means trading away at least one of their star players, including 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts.
Betts, who will be a free agent after the 2020 season, is projected to make about $28 million in his final year of arbitration.
If Boston does indeed trade Betts this offseason, Red Sox reporter John Tomase thinks the Cubs and White Sox are two possible landing spots for the four-time All-Star.
Here’s what Tomase says about the Cubs’ chances. Via NBC Sports Boston.
Oh, man, are the Cubs at a crossroads. After winning it all in 2016, they have systematically dismantled their farm system while recklessly chasing one more title with the Kris Bryant-Anthony Rizzo-Javier Baez core.
That bill is about to come due in a big way, with the core trio expiring after the 2021 season. The Cubs are locked in to some terrible contracts, whether it’s $184 million for underachieving right fielder Jason Heyward or $126 million for fragile right-hander Yu Darvish.
They’d have to get creative to fit Betts for even one year since the top 15 players on their roster will count for more than $200 million next year. Their farm system is also pretty wiped out, but don’t discount Theo Epstein, who drafted Betts in 2011 and has watched him blossom into a superstar from afar.
Going all in on one last title run is how the Cubs have gotten themselves into long-term trouble, but their window is slamming shut, and Betts could be a one-year difference maker before the reckoning.
And the White Sox. By the way, Tomase also believes the White Sox are the favorites to sign J.D. Martinez if he opts out and becomes a free agent this offseason.
Imagine a White Sox offense that features both J.D. Martinez and Betts? Chicago has the resources to make that admittedly remote scenario happen, with basically no money committed to next season. The other Sox are ready to take the next step behind a sneaky-dangerous core of AL batting champ Tim Anderson, former Red Sox farmhand Yoan Moncada, and slugging youngster Eloy Jimenez.
Their well-regarded farm system has already delivered hard-throwing right-hander Dylan Cease, and there’s more where that came from, whether it’s outfielder Luis Robert, rehabbing right-hander Michael Kopech, or second baseman and Dustin Pedroia clone Nick Madrigal.
The White Sox were in on Manny Machado last winter and could turbocharge their rebuild with Betts after hanging on the periphery of the AL wild card race for half of 2019.
There’s no doubt Betts has established himself as a star, posting at least a 4.8 fWAR season beginning in 2015. He’s the complete package and would immediately make any team better upon his arrival. The Red Sox are vulnerable because they’re desperate to shed payroll and Betts is going to make bank in 2020, so a trade for him won’t necessarily dismantle a farm system. Because he’s slated to make nearly $30 million next season, a trade package for Betts will be more feasible than you first think.
Yet, the big issue is that you only get one year of Betts and at 27-years-old, it’s unlikely any team will convince him to sign an extension without testing free agency. If you’re the Cubs, he’s perfect and you’ll be going all-in for 2020, but that depends on ownership giving the front office the green light to spend more than ever before because the rest of the roster still needs to be upgraded.
The White Sox? They have $15 million committed to payroll before calculating arbitration raises for 2020. Rick Hahn has all the flexibility imaginable to make a huge trade for Betts, but once again ownership is a question mark. How much are they willing to spend this offseason and if it is Betts, would they stop there for their big acquisitions?
Tomase also lists the Braves, Dodgers, Padres and Mets as possible trade partners for Betts.