How Should Bloom Handle the Mookie Betts Situation?

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Mookie Betts Can Leave After This Season.

Since being hired by the Red Sox, former Rays baseball executive Chaim Bloom has been focusing on smaller deals to build his roster.  Bloom went from a Rays team that operated with a small budget that focused on the draft, player development and scouting players on teams to improve his roster.  Now he comes to Boston with a mandate to get the team’s payroll below the luxury tax threshold of $208 million dollars.

Photo courtesy of usatoday.com
This off-season, Bloom has signed low-risk players like IF Jose Peraza and LHP Martin Perez.  He’s claimed relievers in RHP Chris Mazza, LHP Josh Osich and has signed eight players to minor league deals.  These moves aren’t exactly what we’ve been accustomed to here in Boston the last few years.

While Brian Cashman and the Yankees are giving out $324 million to right-hander Gerrit Cole, Bloom mulls over what to do with All-Star Mookie Betts.

Betts seems determined to test free agency following the 2020 season.  The Red Sox have reportedly offered Betts an eight-year $200 million dollar extension two years ago that he turned down.  Betts would go year by year in arbitration.  Betts is expected to earn $27 million from arbitration for this up-coming season.

Does Betts want to remain in Boston?  "It's just been a blessing to be a part of such a great franchise with all of the history and all of the guys who have come through and they still come through," Betts told ESPN in May.  This hasn’t been the first time that Betts has stated publicly he wants to remain in Boston.  If Betts is intent on staying here in Boston, why hasn’t he signed an extension?

Betts wants to maximize his value prior to hitting free agency.  While he is maximizing his value, Bloom and his front office need to figure out what they should do with Betts.  They could go into 2020, let him play out the season, offer him a qualifying offer (which he’ll reject) and draft a player in the draft.  The club has another option; they could trade Betts for a package of players and begin to move on from one of the top players in all of baseball.

Shop for Boston Red Sox fan gear from Nike, Majestic and New Era at Shop.MLB.comThis is not an easy situation for Bloom and the Red Sox, so now begs the question.  How should Bloom handle the Betts situation?

The Red Sox don’t lack the funds to sign Betts considering the team is worth $3.2 billion dollars.  Red Sox owner John Henry is looking to see his team get under the luxury tax threshold to avoid paying further penalties.  Henry will write a check for $13.4 million dollars for going over the tax threshold this past season.

Bloom could look to trade lefty David Price, which seems difficult due to the $96 million he is owed over the next three years.  Reportedly there have been teams interested in acquiring the former Cy Young award winner.  The Red Sox are set to pay Price $32 million this season.  In order to trade him, they’ll likely need to eat a major portion of his deal.  Trading Price could help change the culture of the team.  A locker room shakeup isn’t exactly a terrible thing to ask for this season.

The Red Sox could look to trade J.D. Martinez.  Martinez is set to earn $23.5 million this season and is owed $62.5 million by the club over the next three seasons.  Martinez does have an opt-out over the final two seasons, which could make him difficult to trade and get maximum value.

Martinez really only appeals to an American League team.  He played 38 games in the outfield this year, so Martinez is primarily a designated hitter.

Bloom could and should look to trade World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi.  Eovaldi signed a ridiculous extension before last season, thanks to Dave Dombrowski.  Eovaldi signed a four-year deal worth $68 million dollars.  The club has been reportedly trying to move his $17 million per season as well.  Given the fact that Eovaldi can’t stay healthy, the fact he’ll be eating up $17 million dollars the team should look to move him this offseason.

Eovaldi’s contract isn’t a big financial burden like Price’s contract, but the money the team is locked into Eovaldi doesn’t appear to be in line with Bloom’s approach the Red Sox are taking to building this team.  The new focus is now to be fiscally responsible in how they spend their payroll.

Bloom has a bigger checkbook to operate with in Boston than he did in Tampa Bay.  The Tampa front office has been creative with their approach to roster building in the 15 years he was with that organization.  Bloom had roughly a $63 million dollar payroll to work with.  That same payroll has won 90 plus games in back to back seasons, and it also finished ahead of the Red Sox last season.

As of November 6th, the Red Sox and Betts camp haven’t had contract extension discussions this offseason.  Bloom has reportedly been in close contact with his right fielder.  Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy was quoted as saying “I’m sure we’ll have conversations at the appropriate time.”

When is the appropriate time to have those discussions with Betts?

The fact of the matter is the Red Sox ownership and new front office know that Betts is going to walk this offseason and are looking for the best way to maximize his value.  That could be trading him this offseason or during the middle of next season.  “We love Mookie Betts,” Kennedy said.  “He’s such a special player and such a special person.  We’ll continue to have conversations with him.”

Betts has been part of the Red Sox marketing for the television show for NESN next season.  One can argue that the Red Sox are doing this because he’s part of their long term plans.  In fact, they’re doing this because they need you, the fan, to watch the program on NESN for all 162 games next season.

Betts is a generational player and it’s crazy to think the Red Sox are likely to move on from the former AL MVP.  At this point it would take a miracle for the Sox and Betts to agree on an extension, unless they’ll extremely overpay for the outfielder.

Betts could command a deal around what the Angels gave to Mike Trout, who signed a 12-year $430 million dollar extension with the Angels.

There are a lot of moving pieces with keeping Betts.  Some include trades and bridging this season until the team has more financial flexibility.  What Bloom shouldn’t do is back the Brinks truck up for Betts.  If the club can find the right trade that allows the team to build on post-Betts then the Red Sox need to do this.  If the Red Sox trade him, it’s the option Red Sox fans will hate and criticize for years after the trade.

Major League Baseball is a vicious business, one where owners and front offices appear to have all the money in the world, but make decisions that don’t always jive with the fan sentiment.  Bloom and the Red Sox need to do a better job to manage the teams money better than Dombrowski did when he was here.

The Red Sox have a superstar in Betts rapidly approaching free agency and they realistically do not want to invest $35-$40 million into one player.  For the long term flexibility of the Boston Red Sox, Bloom and his front office want the flexibility to build a well-rounded roster that allows sustainability for years versus the win now window.

Chaim Bloom should trade Mookie Betts.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: How Should Bloom Handle the Mookie Betts Situation?
How Should Bloom Handle the Mookie Betts Situation?
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