Padres Pursuing Betts

George Bissell

With spring training rapidly approaching, a report by Dennis Lin of The Athletic that the Padres and Red Sox have discussed a potential trade involving superstar outfielder Mookie Betts, sent shockwaves throughout the baseball landscape on Thursday evening. According to Lin, the trade talks have focused on the Friars sending a “significant amount of prospect talent” in addition to veteran outfielder Wil Myers to Boston in exchange for Betts. The 27-year-old former American League MVP has been the subject of persistent trade rumors throughout the entire offseason, but nothing has come to fruition, yet. He’s slated to make $27 million in his final year of salary arbitration this season and is eligible for free agency in 2021.  

If there’s a team which possesses the prospect capital necessary to pull off a true blockbuster deal, it’s the Padres. They undoubtedly boast one of the deepest farm systems in the game and have managed to stockpiled an intoxicating combination of high-end premium talent and intriguing complementary depth. That blend of prospects should be enough to piece together a package that would satisfy the Red Sox considerable demands. Given Betts proximity to the open market, left-hander MacKenzie Gore -- the consensus top pitching prospect in the entire game -- would likely be untouchable in any scenario. It’s purely speculation at this point, but it’s plausible that a prospect package headlined by hard-throwing right-hander Luis Patino, electrifying shortstop C.J. Abrams or athletic outfielder Taylor Trammell would be enough to entice Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to deal away the franchise’s iconic superstar and one of the most valuable position players in the game. 

At this stage, these are merely rumors and an actual completed trade doesn’t appear imminent. According to Lin, “multiple people familiar with the discussions characterized an agreement as unlikely, and the industry consensus is that Betts will be in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day. Yet both sides appear to have legitimate interest.” It’s a situation worth monitoring closely in the next few days. Simply put, it’s the type of deal that has the potential to reshape the competitive landscape in both leagues. Slotting Betts into the heart of a young, talented offensive nucleus in San Diego could catapult the Padres from intriguing fringe contenders into a legitimate powerhouse senior circuit contender for years to come. Meanwhile, the Red Sox would restock their severely depleted minor-league system (which may be further weakened if they’re docked future draft picks by MLB’s impending investigation into sign-stealing allegations during the 2018 campaign) and set themselves up to build around the dynamic tandem of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers for the next half-decade. Stay tuned.

Rojas Takes Over In New York

According to multiple reports, the Mets have finalized a multi-year contract with Luis Rojas to be their next manager. He'll be introduced as the new skipper at a press conference on Friday. With spring training less than three weeks away, the 38-year-old son of longtime major-league player and manager Felipe Alou is poised to take over for Carlos Beltran, who “mutually parted ways” with the organization last week -- before ever managing a game in Queens -- as a result of his involvement with the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 campaign. It'll be the first big-league managerial opportunity for Rojas, who was hired by Mets GM Brodie Van Waganen last year to serve as a quality control coach, ostensibly serving as a liaison between the front office’s analytics department and the major-league coaching staff. He spent the previous 12 seasons as a coach and manager in the organization’s minor-league system. He managed the Mets’ Double-A Binghamton affiliate for two seasons (2017-2018) and also has experience managing in the Dominican Winter League as well. Hensley Meulens and Tony DeFrancesco, widely considered the other finalists to replace Beltran, are both expected to stay on with the Mets in coaching positions under Rojas.

Haniger Suffers Setback

According to multiple reports, Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger suffered an injury to his abdominal core during a workout earlier this week and will likely undergo core surgery. That procedure would sideline him for at least 6-to-8 weeks, which would cause him to miss the vast majority of spring training, and put his Opening Day status in serious jeopardy as well. The 29-year-old outfielder endured an injury-marred campaign in which he was limited to 63 games due to a ruptured testicle, which required season-ending surgery last June. Given his extensive injury history, juxtaposed by this most recent setback, Haniger finds himself squarely on the borderline of mixed-league relevance entering draft season. If he stays healthy enough to accrue 500 plate appearances, his fly ball-heavy approach makes him a virtual lock to eclipse the 20-homer plateau, but it also caps his batting average upside as well. He’ll chip in a handful of stolen bases for good measure. However, banking on a full rebound to the elite form he displayed during his 2018 breakout campaign, especially given his injury concerns and lackluster supporting cast, is an extremely risky proposition. If the price tag is cheap enough, Haniger represents a decent late-round lottery ticket, especially in deeper fantasy formats this spring. 

 

American League Quick Hits: Royals re-signed OF Alex Gordon to a one-year, $4 million contract … Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told YES Network Thursday that LHP J.A. Happ will begin the season as their fifth starter … Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer (elbow) has started throwing from 90 feet in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery … According to MASN's Roch Kubatko, the Orioles have discussed a reunion with free agent SS Tim Beckham … Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reported Wednesday that the Blue Jays have interest in free agent INF Brock Holt … Indians signed RHP Dominic Leone to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training … Mariners signed INF/OF Alen Hanson to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Tigers signed LHP Hector Santiago to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Yankees re-signed LHP Tyler Lyons to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training … Red Sox re-signed C Juan Centeno to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Orioles signed RHP Brady Rodgers and C Taylor Davis to minor league contracts … Rangers sent LHP Kyle Bird outright to Triple-A Nashville … Royals designated RHP Heath Fillmyer for assignment … White Sox RHP Dylan Covey has elected free agency after being designated for assignment last week.

National League Quick Hits: Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters on Wednesday that OF Yoenis Cespedes (heel) will be ready to go for spring training from an "offensive standpoint” … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Wednesday that the Reds are still a player for free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos … Heyman also reported Thursday that four teams have checked in on free agent RHP Fernando Rodney … Hector Gomez of Z101 Digital reported Wednesday that free agent RHP Pedro Strop is deciding between the Marlins and Rangers … Brewers signed RHP Mike Morin to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training … Phillies signed INF Neil Walker and LHP Francisco Liriano to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training … Dodgers signed LHP Kyle Lobstein to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Cubs re-signed LHP Danny Hultzen to a minor league contract … Reds signed OF Boog Powell to a minor league contract … Giants signed 1B Darin Ruf to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.