Mookie Betts is no longer in the American League East, which is great news for the Baltimore Orioles.
The Baltimore Orioles can breathe a big sigh of relief because the Boston Red Sox have traded superstar outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Sox get outfielder Alex Verdugo back along with, pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol from the Minnesota Twins, who received pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers.
Whether the Orioles aim to win or not, this is welcomed news to the team and fans. Facing the Red Sox maybe won’t be so painful anymore. Betts has completely mashed Orioles pitchers, both at Fenway Park and Camden Yards over the course of his career.
In a sizable 96 games, Betts has hit .299/.390/.543 with a whopping 20 home runs, higher than what he has hit against every other AL East team in roughly the same amount of games. Even crazier, 15 of the home runs have occurred in Baltimore, for a slugging percentage of .602.
The Orioles, who don’t face the Dodgers this season, will also be happy to see Price go. The former Cy Young winner has held the Orioles to a .625 OPS while pitching to a 2.87 ERA in 30 games, with 16 wins and two shutouts, the equivalent of a full season of dominating the O’s. Price has pitched better at home, but he is still 8-1 with a 3.26 ERA at Camden Yards.
In regard to the acquisitions, the Orioles have not faced Verdugo before, but they should still be wary of him. In just 106 games last season, the 23-year-old accumulated a solid 3.1 WAR with a .817 OPS. Over a full season at Fenway, instead of spacious Dodger Stadium, those numbers should go up. Baltimore’s righty-heavy rotation will have to get ready for the left-handed hitter.
Graterol has not faced the Orioles, either, after making his debut last season and pitching 9.2 innings. The Red Sox could use the top 100 prospect as a starter or as a reliever, where the Twins used him in September and October. Graterol has front-end stuff, but he has not pitched a full season as a starter before, and his triple-digit fastball plays better in the bullpen. Either way, the Orioles should get used to him on the mound.
I understand that the Red Sox got less back for including Price’s contract, but I think they should have gotten more in return. Verdugo and Graterol are both talented young players who should help Boston for years, but an MVP is worth more than two players with All-Star ceilings, at their absolute best. If they had received at least one of the Dodgers’ top 100 prospects I would see this as more of a fair trade. By resetting their luxury tax numbers, the Red Sox are setting up to spend next winter.
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The Dodgers, on the other hand, get a slam dunk here. They traded an outfielder for a better outfielder and a pitcher for a comparable pitcher, along with receiving good amount of money. Without giving up their very best prospects, they got a perennial MVP candidate in his prime to put them ahead of the Yankees as World Series favorites. After playoff disappointments the last few years, nothing short of a title would be considered a success for them in 2020.
What confuses me the most about the trade is why the Twins joined. Maeda helps them more in 2020 than the developing Graterol, but this could really hurt them in the next few years as Maeda ages. With a relatively weak rotation, the Twins are paying a steep price to improve it as they fight for a second-straight division title.
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This trade may not seem to affect bottom-feeders like the Orioles, but a couple more wins against the Red Sox without Betts and Price could be the difference in draft positioning next year. At least we won’t see as many home runs given up, hopefully.