Teams almost never get equal value in return for trading star players, and Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom wasn't going to let that dissuade the team from dealing Mookie Betts.
In an interview on WEEI's The Greg Hill Show (h/t MassLive's Nick O'Malley), Bloom explained the Red Sox's position as they weighed what they could get in a Betts trade. He said Boston wanted a package "to make this roster more sustainable but still competitive":
"I didn't necessarily expect, just knowing he's such a great player, so important to the franchise, that somebody was going to meet that bar. Obviously, everybody can come to their own judgments as to whether what we got did meet that bar. But in our minds, it was something we needed to do."
After some bumps in the road, the Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers finalized a trade that moved Betts and David Price to Los Angeles, with Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong coming to Boston.
Verdugo slugged .475 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 106 games last season. Downs and Wong provide some more depth to the Sox's farm system. Downs is the No. 44 overall prospect on MLB.com.
Still, the primary purpose of offloading Betts and Price was clear: Ownership wanted to avoid the luxury tax in 2020. Betts will make $27 million before hitting free agency next winter, while Price accounts for $96 million over the next three years.
Losing arguably the second-best position player in baseball for the sake of a lower payroll commitment isn't going to fly with a significant chunk of the fanbase. Bloom already told reporters, "It's reasonable to expect that we're going to be worse without [Betts and Price]."
It's one thing for a smaller-market team to trade a star player because of concerns about whether it could afford to re-sign him down the road.
Forbes estimated the Red Sox to be worth $3.2 billion last April with $516 million in revenue and $84 million operating income. Not only did Boston have enough money to keep Betts under contract, but it would've had little trouble signing him to a market-rate extension.
For a franchise that was haunted by the trade of Babe Ruth for nearly a century, the Red Sox are tempting fate by sending Betts westward.