The President may have been in the process of delivering his State of the Union address, but that didn’t stop the Dodgers from making a move. We’ve waited all winter and now, with a week until pitchers and catchers report, a trade has been made.
Around dinnertime, ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news that Mookie Betts has indeed been traded to the Dodgers. As details have come out, we’ve learned that it was a 3-team trade where Betts and David Price went to the Dodgers, Alex Verdugo went to the Red Sox, and Kenta Maeda went to the Twins.
Overall, this trade looks great! The Dodgers are acquiring an MVP right fielder and a starting pitcher who, at worst, will fill innings and give the young pitchers some rest.
So first, let’s focus on the former MVP, Mookie Betts. In 2018, his MVP year, Betts posted a 10.9 WAR with 32 home runs and a .449 (99th percentile) WOBA. Last year, after a slow start due to a World Series hangover, Betts was still able to post a 6.8 WAR with 29 homers and a .380 WOBA. While not as good as his MVP year, this was still a great year.
In the tweet above, we see a possible Dodgers lineup in 2020. Just look at it. It’s practically unbeatable. Betts is an offensive powerhouse, with a rising star in Max Muncy behind him. Batting 4th will be the reigning MVP, Cody Bellinger, backed by a hopeful healthy A.J. Pollock and Corey Seager. Then we’ve got two second-year players with great potential. Long story short, I don’t want to face this lineup.
Then let’s look at the defensive boost. Last year, according to Outfield Outs Above Average, the Dodgers were the 7th best team with +5 OOAA. Bellinger alone had 7. In 2019, Betts also had 7. By putting Betts and Bellinger in the same outfield, the Dodgers will have an elite defense.
Now let’s look at David Price. The main reason the Dodgers acquired Price was probably to lower the cost of Betts. But that doesn’t mean he can’t help the team. Since the Dodgers are covering half his remaining salary, he might as well pitch in.
Price struggled last year, posting a 4.28 ERA. But Price is only a year removed from a being a better pitcher with an ERA under 4. Besides, the Dodgers already have a strong rotation. Price’s main job will probably “eating innings” and making spot starts in order to keep the young pitchers well-rested.
And now, let’s talk about the return. The Dodgers had to pay a high price for Betts. It took 3 teams, but the deal was made. In order to acquire the MVP, the Dodgers gave up one of their upcoming stars, Alex Verdugo along with Kenta Maeda.
Verdugo was at one time the Dodgers’ top prospect. While in the Big Leagues, he played with energy, excitement, and skill. But he missed most of the season in 2019 with back injuries. His health is still unknown. It is likely that he will return to baseball and become a star for Boston. He’s one of those prospects who is difficult to say goodbye to.
And then Kenta Maeda. This is where the third team, the Minnesota Twins come in. The Dodgers sent Maeda to the twins, who sent a prospect to Boston. Maeda has always been a solid pitcher, but never good enough to secure a role in the starting rotation. He still believes he’s a starter and will now have that chance with the twins.
After completing the deal for Betts, the Dodgers wasted no time in weeding down their outfielders. At the same time as the Betts trade was surfacing, the Dodgers also traded Joc Pederson to the Angels in exchange for infielder Luis Rengifo.