MLB News

What Could the Dodgers Give Up For Mookie Betts?

Yetsterday we went over the players who could be in play for the Padres should they attempt to acquire Mookie Betts. But San Diego isn’t the only team interested in the superstar outfielder. The Dodgers are also interested in Betts, and today we’ll go over which players could be moved in a potential deal.

Mookie Betts and Dodgers

The Dodgers, like their NL West rival, are interested in the Red Sox outfielder. It certainly makes sense for the Dodgers to look at Betts, as adding him could put Los Angeles over the top in the National League. And considering that the Dodgers, like the Padres, have a deep farm system, they certainly have the assets to make the move.

However, there could be some hangups in a potential deal, especially if David Price is involved. Price, who’s slated to make $94M over the next three seasons, has been a part of the discussions between the two teams. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the two sides have traded proposals, with some including the lefty, and other combinations not including Price. The inclusion of Price will certainly affect the Red Sox’s return on Betts, but if Boston is dead-set on moving Price and his salary of the books, they may be willing to take the lower return.

But, what assets could the Dodgers offer to the Red Sox? Let’s take a look at which players may or may not be involved.

Keibert Ruiz and Gavin Lux

We’ll group these two together for one simple reason: it’s highly unlikely the Red Sox get either of these two players. Let’s start with Keibert Ruiz, a 21-year old catcher from Venezuela who’s established himself as an elite catching prospect. Ruiz spent most of last season with Tulsa (AA), and he batted .254 last season with the Drillers, hitting four home runs and 13 extra base hits across 276 at-bats. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Ruiz was terrific at making contact, as he only struck out 21 times in AA last season. Scouts are impressed with his catching ability, and MLB Pipeline describes the 21-year old as a catcher who’s quicker than most, as well as one who “has soft hands and frames the ball well, though he has occasional lapses of consistency with his receiving.” Ruiz’s stock may have dropped a bit due to the offensive numbers he had at Tulsa, but there’s a lot of potential.

Middle infielder Gavin Lux, meanwhile, has been untouchable in trades for quite some time. The Dodgers refused to deal him last July at the Trade Deadline, and for good reason. Across 458 at-bats in two levels (AA and AAA) last season, Lux recorded a slash line of .347/.421/.607, and hit 26 home runs and drove in 76 runs last season. The Wisconsin native was terrific with Tulsa (AA) last season, and he performed even better in Oklahoma City (AAA), as he hit 13 homers there and batted .391 over 49 games. The 22-year old received his first taste of the Majors late last season, and he’s expected to receive a larger role for the Dodgers in 2020. Considering the talent Lux has, it’s no wonder the Dodgers won’t make him available to the Red Sox.

Dustin May

Right-handed pitcher Dustin May is, like Lux, an elite prospect that the Dodgers likely won’t make available in any trade talks. However, it’s still worth going over the righty. A third-round pick by the Dodgers in 2016, May utilizes two fastballs (Two-Seam and Cutter) which can frustrate hitters, and the righty does a terrific job of generating movement on his cutter. May also utilizes a curveball, which has received high grades, and a changeup that he hasn’t had to use as much but can be an effective pitch. May hasn’t had many issues when it comes to walks, as he has good command of his stuff.

Last season, May struck out 110 batters in 106.2 innings across two levels (AA and AAA), and 32 more batters in the Majors last season. The right-hander was quite effective in his brief time as a Dodger last season, and given the potential he has, I’d say it’s unlikely he’s moved.

Tony Gonsolin

Tony Gonsolin was also drafted in 2016, taken by the Dodgers in the ninth round out of St. Mary’s University. Gonsolin received a lot of attention following the 2018 season, as he struck out 155 batters over 128 innings across two levels (A+ and AA) that year. Gonsolin got his first chance with the Dodgers in June and he performed well during his brief time in Los Angeles. The 25-year old struck out 37 and recorded a 1.03 WHIP in 40 innings with the Dodgers last season.

Gonsolin utilizes two fastballs, a four-seamer and a splitter that has received plus-plus grades. In his brief time with the Dodgers, Gonsolin used his splitter at a rate of 25.1%, and batters hit only .182 off of it (38.7% Whiff%). Gonsolin also has a curveball, which has received high marks by scouts, and a slider in his arsenal. While May be off limits, Gonsolin’s ceiling is a bit lower, which could make him available in a trade. But the right-hander is quite talented, and so the Dodgers should definitely think twice if they do make him available.

Alex Verdugo

If the Red Sox are intent on trading Betts, there’s a strong chance they’ll want a roster player back. And Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo could very well be a fit for the Red Sox. A former top prospect, Verdugo played over 100 games in his first full season in the Majors, and performed quite well. The 23-year old recorded a slash line of .294/.342/.475, and hit 12 home runs while driving in 44 runs. It was a nice first season, but let’s take a closer look at some other numbers regarding Verdugo.

For one, Verdugo pounced on fastballs last season, The 23-year old saw fastballs 61.1% of the time in 2019, and he batted .361 and slugged .574 off of those pitches. And while he seemed to struggle a bit against fastballs up high in the zone, Verdugo took advantage of fastballs lower in the zone.

Second, Verdugo struck out just 49 times over 377 plate appearances. Among players* who had 350 or more plate appearances, Verdugo had the sixth fewest amount of strikeouts, and the 19th lowest K% rate (13.0%). Verdugo is a natural hitter who can be selective, but also make consistent contact. Verdugo’s name has been reportedly thrown around in the Mookie Betts talks, and for good reason. If the Red Sox do indeed deal Betts, Verdugo could be a suitable replacement.

Kody Hoese

2019 Dodgers first-round pick Kody Hoese is a name that hasn’t popped up much in these talks, but Boston should certainly be interested in him. Hoese burst on to the scene last spring after the third baseman hit 23 home runs with Tulane. The 22-year old finished fourth among Division I players in home runs, and he didn’t stop producing after the MLB Draft. Hoese hit .299 in his first pro season, while smacking 15 extra base hits in 43 games.

Depending on what the Red Sox want in return, Hoese may not be in the cards. But if Boston is looking for a powerful bat, Hoese could be involved in a potential deal.

The Dodgers certainly have the prospects to make a deal, but are they willing to give them up? I’d say May, Ruiz and Lux are off limits, but what about the latter three? I think it’s certainly possible either Gonsolin, Verdugo and Hoese are involved, especially Alex Verdugo. The 23-year old is controllable, has great tools, and could replace Betts in Boston’s outfield. But as to who else will be involved, that’s a tough question to answer, especially if David Price is involved.

*-241 players qualified for that list

NOTE: This article has been updated from its original version.


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