Boston Red Sox: Getting to Know the Mookie Betts’ Replacements

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 22: Alex Verdugo #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after hitting the game winning home run to defeat the Colorado Rockies 5-4 in eleven innings of a MLB baseball game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, June 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 22: Alex Verdugo #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after hitting the game winning home run to defeat the Colorado Rockies 5-4 in eleven innings of a MLB baseball game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, June 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images) /
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The Boston Red Sox have traded superstar OF Mookie Betts to the Dodgers.  While Betts is a generational talent and dear to Red Sox fan’s hearts, they should be excited about getting Alex Verdugo back from the Dodgers.

By now you are familiar with the blockbuster three-team deal that sent Mookie Betts to LA, Kenta Maeda to Minnesota, and Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol to Boston.  Boston Red Sox fans are going to be understandably disappointed to see their face of the franchise head to a Dodgers team he helped vanquish in the World Series.

Betts is in the conversation for the best player not named Mike Trout which doesn’t make this trade any easier or more popular. That being said Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol are an exciting return for a player who was only guaranteed to be in Boston for one more year.

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Graterol features a 70 fastball, a 60 slider, and has the potential for an average change-up.  His command is a little below average but if his command or change-up improves, he could turn into a high-octane starter.  If not, the Boston Red Sox just acquired their closer of the future who is MLB ready and features electric stuff like this (and this too!).

Meanwhile, Alex Verdugo had been one of the Dodgers’ top prospects and finally played in his first full season in 2019.  Verdugo was solid all-around hitting .294/.342/.475 good for a 114 wRC+), +6 DRS at all 3 OF positions, and a total of 2.2 fWAR.  He will immediately slot into Betts’ former spot in RF and will likely move to CF when Jackie Bradley Jr. departs.

Looking at Verdugo’s StatCast profile, there’s reason to believe he could become a 5 win player. Verdugo has above-average exit velocity but hits the ball on the ground over 50% of the time.  If he could reduce that mark and add it to his flyball rate, he could turn into an offensive monster with 25+ home runs.

He’s only 23 and now has one of the biggest advocates of the “elevate and celebrate” approach in JD Martinez. so he still has plenty of time to grow as a hitter and refine his offensive approach. A good defensive CF who already has an above-average bat AND still has untapped offensive potential is a great get for the Boston Red Sox. Verdugo is controllable for the next 5 seasons so he should be a fixture in the Red Sox lineup and given every chance to reach his star upside.

The inevitability of a Mookie Betts trade came down to the excessive spending the team did on players like JD Martinez, Chris Sale, and Nathan Eovaldi under Dave Dombrowski’s reign.  Those three are making a combined $323M over 14 years which could have instead been offered to Mookie Betts instead.

Chaim Bloom is looking to build a sustainable winner with controllable young talent and then complement the roster with free agents as needed.  Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol represent the first step in that process.

Graterol’s floor is that of a relief ace which Boston absolutely needs after the dumpster fire the bullpen was in 2019.  Verdugo isn’t going to become Mookie Betts but he will still be a great player for Boston as they move on from their former superstar.

light. Related Story. How Chaim Bloom passed the test in Betts trade