By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
With just over a week before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, the Red Sox looked like roadkill on this sweltering Sunday in Baltimore, dropping their second game of a three-game series to the Orioles, who are battling the Detroit Tigers from the worst record in baseball by the score of 5-0.
And the final score doesn’t come close indicating just how bad of a loss this was for a team that has had way too many of them during their poor excuse for a World Series title defense so far this season.
Not only did the Sox drop their first series in two years to a team that was losing games at a .700 clip entering the weekend, but they were also no-hit by a 30-year-old journeyman who is in his eighth organization for six-plus innings.
For how pathetic it was to see manager Alex Cora’s lineup go as limp as a piece of lettuce left in the hot summer sun against righty Asher Wojciechowski, the loss just put an exclamation point on the careless and callous way his club has gone about its business since winning it all last October.
Anyone that thinks that this team that calls Fenway Park home still has a chance to repeat – or even make the postseason, for that matter – is obviously delusional due to the heat or a homer of immense proportions.
The Red Sox brass – and vice president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, in particular – have to take a long look at this organization and realize that the only responsible thing to do at the deadline is to sell off assets and start building towards the future.
And front and center on the trade block should be Mookie Betts.
The reigning AL MVP is hands down the best chip that any team in the game will have to offer during baseball’s upcoming silly season, and he could bring back a haul that not only could help restock the Sox very limited farm system, he could also yield the pieces that may place Dombrowski’s team back into serious contenders next season.
Since the Sox made an effort to resign him early and avoid free agency after the 2020 season, the 26-year-old has told anyone that would listen that he was hellbent on heading to the open market next fall.
When asked about his contract status in the spring by the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Betts said, “I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. … That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”
Adding what he values most is, “Just being treated fairly.”
In other words, he is going to make any team that does sign him pay through the nose and then some for his services.
Let’s face it when Betts is on he is one of the best players in the game. He has all five tools and a smile and demeanor that makes him an easy fan favorite.
However, he is 5’ 9” and 180 pounds and not many guys that size hold up into their mid-30’s after going through the grind of multiple major league seasons (see Dustin Pedroia). Betts is likely to demand a decade long deal at $25 to $30 million per year and he has already shown a tendency to alternate between good years and great performances every other season.
The emergence of Rafael Devers – who at only 22 years old has seemingly unlimited potential – and the fact that many of the contract decisions that the Red Sox have made have been poor ones lately – which is why they started the season without a big-league closer – makes maximizing Betts value all the more necessary now.
Like it or not, it is time to pull the plug on this lifeless Red Sox team. If they don’t get the most they can for Mookie now, it is likely that they will watch him walk away to the highest bidder in 18 months with nothing to show for him in return.