After a week of deliberative negotiation, Los Angeles finally has its next all-star in right field
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers officially acquired their next superstar, former Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts.
Andrew Friedman became the President of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. President and CEO Stan Kasten called Friedman “one of the youngest and brightest minds in the game.” He proved that assessment true rather quickly.
His first year in the front office was a splash that the organization hadn’t felt in a while. Big-time names such as Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon were gone, decreasing a payroll that was one of the highest in baseball.
With this, Friedman looked to build their farm system even further. And it worked. Players such as Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Walker Buehler and Joc Pederson all grew up in their system and were all vital towards the Dodgers run in which they won two consecutive NL pennants.
Yet, there was still a dissatisfied feeling amongst Dodgers fans everywhere that it wasn’t enough. They experienced seven straight playoff appearances, but they all ended in heartbreak. The Dodgers haven’t won a title since 1988, and it seemed that they were one superstar short of taking home the title.
Enter Mookie Betts
The trade was announced on Tuesday, February 4 as a three-team deal between the Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. The initial report noted Betts and 34-year-old left-handed pitcher David Price heading to Los Angeles from Boston, along with cash that would help pay for Price’s lengthy $217 million contract.
According to the initial report, Minnesota would get Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda; Boston would receive two young prospects, Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo and Twins right-handed pitcher Brudar Graterol.
However, days passed and the deal was still not official. The biggest reason for this was the Red Sox concern over Graterol’s health. Despite his medical records being public for all executives, Boston discovered Graterol had a previous history of Tommy John Surgery in 2016, along with shoulder impingement in 2019. This caused the Red Sox to become hesitant on their side of the deal.
This led the Twins to become increasingly impatient with Boston. There were rumors that Minnesota sought to back out of the deal, but ultimately the deal fell through. What resulted was two separate deals between the three teams.
Minnesota eventually earned their top commodity in Maeda, along with cash considerations and minor league catcher Jair Camargo in exchange for Graterol, outfielder Luke Raley and the 67th pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Maeda is an immediate asset for the Twins pitching staff, but Los Angeles might have won the trade with another young arm to add to an already stacked farm system, that is if he can stay healthy.
The biggest highlight remained Betts, who officially is set to wear the blue and white next season. Los Angeles ultimately received the same package from Boston with Betts, Price and cash. Boston, on the other hand, received Verdugo in the exchange, along with shortstop Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong.
Friedman, arguably, won both deals. Somehow, the “bright mind” that Kasten described found a way to make his team both better now, and better for the future.
When looking at the Dodgers roster before the two deals, they were arguably the strongest in the National League. Adding Betts, the AL MVP in 2018, to a lineup which is backboned by the reigning NL MVP in Bellinger, it might be the strongest in MLB. Adding Price to an elite rotation which includes a young star in Buehler and a living legend in Clayton Kershaw should make this pitching staff phenomenal.
In addition, adding Graterol will strengthen the already deep bullpen with Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen and closer Kenley Jansen.
If there is one word to describe these 2020 Dodgers, it is complete. Of course, it is impossible to determine what this team will do when the season starts, but they finally seem to have all their pieces in place to bring the Commissioner’s Trophy back to L.A. And if there is one person to thank for all of this, it is Friedman.