Not everyone agrees with the Boston Red Sox’s decision to trade Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers this past offseason.
But it could be worse.
Imagine if the Red Sox traded him years ago, before he blossomed into a superstar and helped Boston win a World Series title in 2018.
Teams certainly asked about Betts, dating back to his days as an under-the-radar prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox, to their credit, held firm in not dealing away the 2011 fifth-round pick.
Former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, now GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates, recently revealed that the Milwaukee Brewers were the first team to try to trade for Betts in 2013.
“(Former Brewers GM) Doug Melvin was the first to ask, so I always give Doug credit,” Cherington said, according to MLB.com. “He was the first one to ask for him.”
Betts was a second baseman in Single-A at the time. The Brewers apparently offered reliever Francisco Rodriguez, a proposal Boston rejected, opening the door for Milwaukee to trade K-Rod to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Nicky Delmonico.
“We knew we weren’t going to get what was considered a top-level prospect, and Mookie sort of went under the radar if you went by the so-called MLB Pipeline or whatever,” Melvin recently told MLB.com. “I don’t think at the time he was in their top 10-15 prospects. But I remember between our analytics department and Zack (Minasian’s) scouting department, I said, ‘Just give me some names.’ “
Betts’ stock skyrocketed soon thereafter. He transitioned to the outfield, debuted with Boston in 2014 and instantly became an impact major leaguer. Now, he’s among the game’s best all-around players, with four All-Star selections, four Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Slugger Awards and a World Series title already on his increasingly impressive résumé.
Very few could have predicted the magnitude of Betts’ ascent in his early days with the Red Sox organization. But Boston knew, even more so over time, that it had a talented player worth hanging onto for a while, much to Milwaukee’s — and presumably other teams’ — chagrin.