The deal that will send Mookie Betts (and David Price) to the Los Angeles Dodgers is being delayed, because the Boston Red Sox didn’t like something about Brusdar Graterol’s medical records. However, all the teams involved, including the Minnesota Twins, have confidence that it will eventually be completed. For the New York Yankees, getting Betts out of the AL East would be a huge win, but beware: his arrival would make the Dodgers an extremely dangerous foe.
Graterol is the Twins’ best pitching prospect. In the original deal that was reported, Boston would send Betts and Price to the Dodgers, Los Angeles would trade Kenta Maeda to Minnesota and young outfielder Alex Verdugo to Boston and the Twins would flip Graterol to the Red Sox.
At the moment of writing this piece, the Boston front office was holding things up because they now see Graterol as being “more as a reliever than as a starter” after looking over his medical records. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Red Sox “might ask for an additional player and/or money to bridge the gap.” The trade should ultimately take place — “but perhaps not in its original reported form.”
If the deal ends up happening, which still looks to be the case, the Los Angeles Dodgers would be adding arguably the game’s second-best player and a former Cy Young-winning pitcher to a 106-win team.
Yes, they would be taking the entirety of Betts’ $27 million contract this season and a sizable portion of Price’s hefty salary. And yes, they parted with a good veteran starter and a talented young outfielder. However, they can more than endure the financial hit, and they didn’t have to deal any of their top prospects.
In fact, the Dodgers had five young players on MLB’s top-100 prospects list - Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray, Dustin May, Keibert Ruiz and Gavin Lux - before and after agreeing to the trade. The organization is in a really good place.
True, the Yankees don’t have to worry about facing the Dodgers until the World Series. But with Betts in the fold, they would be the only team in Major League Baseball in the same league as the Bronx Bombers.
That doesn’t mean either club is a lock to make the Fall Classic. Lots of weird things can happen in the playoffs, and even before them. However, the human resources available in the Bronx and in the Dodgers appear to be on another level.
Depth and star power
Sure, the Dodgers would also lose Joc Pederson if the Betts deal goes through (they have a deal in place to send him to the Los Angeles Angels.) However, they have the depth and star power to endure his absence as well as Verdugo’s and Maeda’s.
The outfield still has 2019 NL MVP and 7.8-fWAR player Cody Bellinger, A.J. Pollock, and Chris Taylor. Imagining an outfield with Betts and Bellinger is just unfair.
They have other bats, too. Will Smith, who debuted last year, may be one of the best catchers in the National League already. Max Muncy is a fantastic offensive performer (he had 4.8 fWAR last season), Lux is full of promise, Corey Seager is at least a 5-WAR player when fully healthy, Justin Turner offers contact and power... they are loaded.
This could be the projected lineup:
- Mookie Betts - CF
- Corey Seager - SS
- Cody Bellinger - RF
- Max Muncy 1B
- Justin Turner - 3B
- Gavin Lux - 2B
- AJ Pollock - LF
- Will Smith - C
Pitching-wise, they would deal Ross Stripling alongside Pederson. However, they have a myriad of major-league ready arms to cope with the loss. Consider this: the starting rotation would have two former Cy Young winners in Clayton Kershaw (2011, 2013 and 2014) and David Price (2012) yet Walker Buehler may the better pitcher at this point. Top-100 prospect Dustin May, talented Julio Urias, young Tony Gonsolin and veteran Alex Wood round out the group, not to mention reclamation project Jimmy Nelson, who might be salvageable.
The Yankees would hold an advantage when it comes to the bullpen. The group in New York, headlined by Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Chad Green is, at least on paper, better than the one formed by Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Scott Alexander and company. The names on the Dodgers’ squad are no slouches, though, and if they manage to rescue Treinen, the unit could be formidable.
The offseason isn’t over yet. There aren’t many top free agents available, but trades could be made. However, the Los Angeles Dodgers have absolutely no match in the National League if the Mookie Betts deal takes place, at least roster-wise. The Yankees could face a little more competition in the American League side, but are, in theory (we can’t stress this enough) better than anyone else. Both teams are the cream of the crop in their respective circuits, right now, and for potentially for years to come.