Hoffman: Mookie Betts deal offers painful reminders of Boston’s past

From Benjamin Hoffman at the New York Times on February 6, 2020:

“Baseball is a business, and you’ve got to be ready for anything.”

It would be easy to imagine those words being spoken by Mookie Betts in the wake of the controversial trade this week that sent one of the game’s brightest young stars from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers. But they were actually uttered more than 100 years ago, by outfielder Tris Speaker, according to “Spoke,” a biography of Speaker.

The baseball world has rushed to compare the Betts deal — which also sent pitcher David Price to Los Angeles for prospects and payroll relief — to the infamous sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees on Dec. 26, 1919. But there is an argument to be made that the closer precedent is Boston’s sale of Speaker, a future Hall of Famer, to the Cleveland Indians in 1916.

Comparing the relative talent and importance of players across eras can be difficult, but consider this: Just 27 position players have had a season valued at 10 or more wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference’s formulation, and only four — Speaker, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx and Betts — were traded away by the club they recorded the feat for while still in their 20s. At the heart of each deal were financial concerns for the selling team.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/sports/baseball/mookie-betts.html

Originally published: February 7, 2020. Last Updated: February 7, 2020.