When the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in early February, Red Sox fans across America were outraged. A player one-year removed from an MVP and World Series winning season being traded in a perceived salary dump is certainly not common. Five months after the deal, a possibility exists for Mookie Betts to resign with the Red Sox after the 2020 season. Yes, the Dodgers are the most likely landing spot for Betts. However, if just a few things work out for the Sox, Mookie Betts could be back in Boston in 2021.
What the Sox can control
First off, let’s look at the variables the Sox can control in Mookie’s free agency. Obviously, a respectable offer needs to be made. It is rumored that Betts was offered a 10-year/$300M extension while with the Sox, but Mookie is looking for more in the range of $400M. Whether or not he gets that money depends on the market, but Boston should prepare to make the highest offer if they want Betts to return.
Another move the Sox should make is re-signing Alex Cora as manager. Cora was fired by the Red Sox during the offseason and was issued a one year suspension for his involvement in the 2017 Astros sign-stealing scandal. Despite this, bringing him back would be a smart decision for Boston. Both players and management have spoken about how much he means to the organization and the culture he helped to create. Cora is a guy who Betts is both familiar and comfortable with, and nothing but some bad PR is stopping the Sox from rehiring their former manager.
What needs to go the Sox way
The primary reason Mookie Betts was traded (along with David Price) was to get the Sox under the luxury tax. Boston has done everything they can to reset the tax, but Covid-19 has thrown a wrench in their plan. Now, the 60-game season must last into September in order for the reset to occur. If this does not happen, there is essentially zero chance for Mookie to sign with Boston. This will most likely be what determines to what extent the Sox pursue Betts.
Another effect of Covid-19 could actually benefit the Red Sox. With teams losing out on millions in revenue, the free agent market could be way down. Not only will there be less teams in the running to begin with, but Betts may have to settle for less money than he was previously looking for. Mookie could also take a one-year deal somewhere, while he waits for the market to return to normal. Ultimately, this helps the Sox by allowing them to potentially sign Mookie for what they view as a more reasonable price.
What does this all mean?
Will Mookie Betts sign with the Red Sox? Probably not. But if everything goes the Sox way there is a chance. The biggest issue will undoubtably be the resetting of the luxury tax. After that, it’s up to management whether they want to pursue Betts. Mookie has made it public that he loves being in Boston, and the pieces could definitely fall into place. If the luxury tax resets and the Red Sox make a serious offer, Mookie could be back at Fenway as soon as next season.