The three teams agreed earlier this week that Boston would send Betts and left-hander David Price to the Dodgers (along with cash), for outfielder Alex Verdugo. Minnesota would acquire right-hander Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers and would ship hard-throwing right-handed prospect Brusdar Graterol to Boston.
Had that trade been completed as planned, the Dodgers were reportedly set to trade outfielder Joc Pederson, starting pitcher Ross Stripling and outfield prospect Andy Pages to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo and another prospect, according to the Orange County Register.
But all of that was put on hold as the Red Sox and Twins were at loggerheads over Graterol’s health, per multiple media accounts. Boston’s front office grew concerned after reviewing Graterol’s medical files. But the Twins declined to add another player to the swap or offer other incentives, leaving the three teams — plus the Angels — deadlocked over how to proceed.
“To suggest that this player is not healthy going forward, or has any form of substantive medical defect that would in any way damage his career, all of that is false,” Graterol’s agent, Scott Boras, said in a statement, via the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. “This is a scant supposition created by medical review, by someone who has never seen him physically.”
The conflict may have also affected Pederson’s arbitration case with the Dodgers. The outfielder, who finished 2019 with 36 home runs and 74 RBI, asked for $9.5 million in 2020 but was awarded $7.75 million, ESPN reported.
That drew the ire of the MLB Players Association President Tony Clark, who in a statement demanded that the trades be completed “without further delay.”
“The events of this last week have unfairly put several players’ lives in a state of limbo,” he said. “The unethical leaking of medical information as well as the perversion of the salary arbitration process serve as continued reminders that too often players are treated as commodities by those running the game.”
The Red Sox chose to trade Betts largely over the heft of his contract. The 27-year-old is set to make $27 million. Dealing him allowed Boston to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold.
By trading Betts — and Price, who in 2019 went 7-5 in 22 starts with a 4.28 ERA — the Red Sox, just a season removed from a World Series title, firmly enter a transition period in which the team will offload more than half of its 2019 salary burden in 2023, per salary database Spotrac. Boston’s top baseball executive, Chaim Bloom, who was hired in October, has still not landed a new a manager to replace Alex Cora, who mutually parted ways with the club for his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.