The Boston Red Sox are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2019 campaign that saw them finish in third place in the American League East. That was especially embarrassing considering that they paid $13 million above Major League Baseball's luxury tax and still failed to make the playoffs.
In 2020, the Red Sox hope to trim payroll, and the biggest name left on their ledger is 2018 AL MVP outfielder Mookie Betts. Last season, Betts hit .295 with 80 runs batted in while scoring a major league-leading 125 runs. Many teams could use his services, if the price is right.
1. San Diego Padres
The most likely option at this point, although according to Dennis Lin of the Athletic (behind paywall), even this is looking like a long shot. In return for Betts, the Red Sox would receive "a significant amount of prospect talent" as well as Padres outfielder Wil Myers. The Padres underachieved last season despite the efforts of newly-acquired Manny Machado, so this offer has to be somewhat tempting for Padres fans who haven't seen their team in the playoffs since 2006.
2. New York Yankees
The idea of the Red Sox trading their most prominent player to the Bronx again -- a century after the most infamous deal in sports history, and for nearly the same reasons as the Ruth trade -- would send shudders through every Sox fan. The Red Sox and Yankees haven't made any sort of deal with each other since 2014, but there was speculation of a Betts-to-Yankees deal in November. After general manager Brian Cashman went all-out for Gerrit Cole, the chances are low that there's room left for another big fish in the Yankee pond.
3. New York Mets
Last year's Mets defied the odds and came close to making the playoffs in the league's toughest division. An offense consisting of both Betts and NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso would be positively lethal and would make them a true contender with the Braves and Nationals in the NL East. It would also make life much easier for the Mets' incoming manager, Luis Rojas.
4. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have been the doormat of the NL Central for the past six seasons, and general manager Nick Krall has made it clear that he is willing to spend to get the team back into contention. Obtaining Betts would be difficult since the Reds already have nine outfielders on their 40-man roster, and would likely need to pay a steep price. But as the saying goes, "you've gotta spend money to make money."
5. Chicago White Sox
White Sox fans are still bitter over their club's lack of desire to acquire any big-name free agent talent in recent years, and their unsuccessful low-ball offers to Manny Machado and Bryce Harper were especially frustrating. This offseason, White Sox management has a chance to right those wrongs and invest heavily in their roster. The team's signing of catcher Yasmani Grandal in November shows the franchise is already committed to rebuilding fast, and pairing him in the lineup with a power hitter of Betts' stature could boost the White Sox into contention.