It was touch-and-go there for a bit, but the Red Sox-Dodgers trade involving Mookie Betts, David Price, and prospects finally went through last week. Ownership met with media ahead of spring training on Monday, and predictably dealt with a barrage of questions about the why of the trade that will continue to be asked until the end of time in Boston.
John Henry, principal owner of the team, released a missive on the team's Twitter account attempting to defend the franchise-altering decision to send out Betts ahead of his impending free agency:
So! Lots to unpack here. My initial thought was that if you, as the owner, have to pen a letter of this length to defend a decision, you probably should not have done it. It's very Knicks-ian. But I recognize that's not entirely logical, so let's break down his arguments.
He brings up trading Nomar Garciaparra in 2004 as a parallel. Except Nomar was 31 when he was shipped out of Boston, and Betts is currently 27. Nomar played infrequently in his last half-season in Boston after missing the first two months of the year with an Achilles injury and was limited leading up to the trade deadline that saw him sent to Chicago. He played 81 total games in 2004, and only 38 for the Red Sox. The least amount of games Betts has played in any season was 136 in his MVP year. In 2019, he missed all of 12 games. Boston was a playoff team with World Series hopes when they traded Nomar at the deadline, and it was certainly debatable if he actually contributed to those championship hopes with his injuries and quickly-depleting defensive capabilities. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Betts would have brought Boston closer to a championship in 2020, but we'll never know how close because they didn't even give that version of the team a chance.
The only real similarity with the two is that both were hometown favorites who came up in the system. Didn't quite nail that one, John.
He then makes some points about the economic system, competitive balance, etc. None of that changes the fact that the Boston Red Sox, a franchise worth the third-most money in all of baseball according to Forbes, traded away their best player because they didn't want to pay him, and are framing it as they couldn't pay him.
Henry follows that up with some comparisons to how much the game has changed since Ted Williams and Stan Musial. And... okay? We all knew that it wasn't the middle of the 20th century. The problem here was not the risk of Betts going to Mexico, he just may have left Boston. And you know what the Cardinals owner did in order to prevent Musial from leaving? Gave him a raise! Seems like a great example for an organization trying to keep their generational player in town, but I can't think of a team in baseball right now that may have been able to deploy that strategy.
Henry probably should've done what most other owners do in such times, which is to let the personnel men they pay to face the press do just that and give menial explanations like, "We're doing what's best for the ballclub," and whatever else you can come up with. Instead, he's putting himself in the crosshairs even more so than before, and in Boston no less. An interesting decision, I'd say, but this statement won't make anyone other than Henry feel better.