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Red Sox/Dodgers Notes: Betts, Friedman, Verdugo

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The latest news from two coasts, as the Dodgers and Red Sox continue to adjust to new realities after the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Chavez Ravine…

  • Talks between the Dodgers and Red Sox about Betts began to develop in late December, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times and other reporters, though Los Angeles first looked into acquiring Betts prior to last July’s trade deadline.  A late surge for the Sox (who had an 8-3 run during an 11-game between July 17 and 27) convinced them to keep Betts and make a push for the postseason.  Pondering about what a deadline Sox/Dodgers trade would’ve looked like is an interesting what-if, especially since Friedman would’ve been negotiating with a different person — Dave Dombrowski was still Boston’s president of baseball operations at the time, before being replaced by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom (who used to work with Friedman in the Rays’ front office).
  • Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers don’t see Betts as just a one-year rental, as team president Stan Kasten told The Athletic’s Andy McCullough that pursuing a long-term extension with the outfielder was “certainly was part of our thinking [with the trade] — that that’s what we would like the outcome to be.”  Friedman concurred, saying “from our standpoint, I think he’s going to fall in love with the city, the fan support, the teammates, the facilities.  And we’re just trying to do everything we can to continue that and have our own guys want to stay.”  Keeping Betts would require a financial commitment that would far surpass anything Friedman has made since he joined the organization in 2015, though surely the baseball ops head and Dodgers ownership are aware of what it will cost the team to lock Betts up — in all likelihood a $400MM+ deal.  However, as McCullough notes, the Dodgers have seemingly laid the groundwork for big future expenditures with less than $45MM in guaranteed payroll commitments on the books following the 2021 season.  It remains a question as to whether Betts would be open to an extension, of course, given how he has so steadfastly expressed his desire to test the open market as a free agent.  Future contracts weren’t on Betts’ mind as he spoke with reporters, saying “I’m still trying to find a house and all those types of things. I’m not even really thinking about that.  I’m just focused on staying with 2020 and going from there.”
  • As to Betts’ projected replacement in the Red Sox outfield, Alex Verdugo might not be ready for Boston’s Opening Day lineup, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports.  Back and oblique problems sent Verdugo to the injured list on August 6 of last season, and he only appeared in one minor league game after that placement.  Speier writes that Verdugo’s back is still bothering him, though the Sox don’t see the injury as a long-term problem.  If Verdugo does miss time at the start of the season, it could be for precautionary reasons, as “a small number of games missed early in the year is better than a substantial stretch on the sideline if he is rushed into the lineup.

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