Mookie Betts’ Future Uncertain after Boston Red Sox Slump

Mookie Betts
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 02: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 02, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox Slump into August

The Boston Red Sox have lost eight straight games for the first time since 2015, and the door to October is being slammed in their face. Boston has been facing the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees for the past two weeks, and had an opportunity to jump the Rays for second-place. Instead, the Sox are down for the count, as the Rays and Yankees seem to have delivered the knockout blow.

“We’re not playing good baseball,” said Red Sox manager, Alex Cora following the first game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader.

Pitching Liability

The fact of the matter is that the 2019 Red Sox don’t have the pitching to make a run the season. Forget making a run in the playoffs, it’s time to question whether this team can even make it to the postseason. The high flying offense from a year ago still remains, but this pitching staff doesn’t have the legs to make it anywhere.

After signing a five-year extension this offseason, Chris Sale now has the 11th best ERA on the club at 4.68. The lefty also has allowed the second most runs, and most home runs on the staff this season. This has been Sale’s worst season of his career in terms of ERA, HR/9, and W-L%.

Sale allowed his most earned runs of the season since opening day in the first game of Saturday’s set. He tossed three and two-thirds innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits on Saturday. This start seems like a symbolic end of the road for Boston. The only start Sale has had shorter than Saturday was on opening day when this rollercoaster took off.

Moving on from Mookie Betts

Boston’s next step is simple — trade Mookie Betts. Trading the former MVP should be at the top of Dave Dombrowski’s to-do list this offseason. Despite making multiple offers to Betts, the two sides haven’t been able to agree on a new deal for the outfielder. They even have had trouble agreeing to a salary in arbitration. Betts has made it clear that he will be playing out the remainder of his current contract.

“I’ve loved it here. I love the front office, my teammates, coaches, everybody. It’s been nothing but amazing here. Just because you go to free agency doesn’t mean you don’t want to be somewhere,” said Betts.

Although he’s saying the right things, this seems to be a tactic to get the Boston media off his back. Even if Betts does decide to resign — which seems unlikely — the question remains if it’s even worth it.

The MVP has been good, not great in 2019. In the aftermath of this past offseason, Betts will no doubt have his eyes set on Mike Trout-like money. It could be in the best interest of the Red Sox to ride with Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts for the future, and part ways with Mookie.

Perhaps the biggest weakness of the Red Sox brass has been their inability to develop good, young starting pitching. Trading Betts creates an immediate avenue for them to get there hands on top-line prospects. The team will have some rotation spots to fill assuming Rick Porcello leaves in free agency, and Nathan Eovaldi stays put in the bullpen.

The team has been flirting with the luxury-tax threshold for the past few seasons. Trading Mookie for prospects will also give Boston major flexibility when it comes to trading in the future.

There is one situation that could create pause for Dombrowski — J.D. Martinez. Martinez will likely opt-out at season’s end. If he re-signs, then he will still provide the bat that Boston needs to remain competitive following a Mookie Betts trade. However, if Martinez chooses to sign elsewhere, that throws the front office a major curveball and a big decision. The team could attempt to retain Betts in the following offseason, to try and stay as relevant as possible. The second option would be to trade Betts anyways, and go into a pseudo-retooling mode. If Martinez walks in free agency, and Betts gets traded, the team will still left with a core of Andrew Benintendi, Devers, and Bogaerts.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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