The Red Sox spent their way into their current luxury tax dilemma by recklessly dumping way too much money into aging arms at risk of injury. It backfired all the way to an anemic 84-78 title defense, so now the way out of the mess is to trade your Gold Glove/Silver Slugger right fielder who led the big leagues with 135 runs?
Dealing Mookie Betts is a crazy idea, especially considering that no trade partner will part with anything close to equal value knowing that Betts has one year left before opening himself up to a bidding war sure to make him among the top five highest-paid players in baseball.
Any trade the Red Sox made now would make them appreciably worse in 2020 and isn't likely to make much of a difference beyond that. Nobody will part with an elite package of prospects for a player they lose control of after one year.
Peel the layers of the onion and it boils down to this: The Red Sox hired Chaim Bloom because he worked in an organization that had a knack for developing young pitching, which enabled the Rays to compete with heavyweights despite carrying a bantamweight payroll.
So trust that Bloom can figure out how to carry that Rays magic north -- otherwise, why hire him in the first place? -- and build the team around the three exceptional every day players who still have far more years ahead of them than behind them.
Spot any organization Betts, third baseman Rafael Devers and shortstop Xander Bogaerts, pay each what the market bears, and watch that organization thrive unless bad decisions are made in assembling the pitching staff.
Do whatever it takes to keep that strong-armed speed/power trio together, even if that means direct depositing $300 million spread out over 10 years in Mookie's bank account.
Guaranteeing that many years for any athlete in any sport is a risk, but it's not as risky to do so with an outfielder as it is guaranteeing half that many years to an aging pitcher.
Sign Mookie to a 10-year contract tomorrow and he'll be 36 on the final day of the final regular season of the deal.
The great Roberto Clemente, who spent his entire Hall of Fame career with the Pirates, was to his era what Betts is to his, in a two-way discussion as to the best right fielder in the game. Frank Robinson was Clemente's competition, Cody Bellinger is Betts'. Bellinger and Betts need to do it for much longer to lay claim to being the two best at their position, let alone to be compared to those two baseball giants, but they're on the right path.
Clemente hit for a higher average, Betts draws more walks, has more power. At age 36, Clemente hit .347, ranked fifth in the MVP balloting, hit .414 in the 1971 World Series and hit a fourth-inning home run off Orioles left-hander Mike Cuellar in Game 7, locking up World Series MVP honors.
That rightly cemented Clemente's reputation as a great clutch player and ensured that nobody remembered his first home run came in his 84th postseason at bat.
Mookie's hitting .227 with one home run in 88 postseason at bats, which suggests he's due, the same way Barry Bonds was due when he had just one home run in 97 at bats and batted .196 in his first five postseasons. In his final four postseasons, Bonds belted eight homers in 88 at bats and batted .333 in 54 at bats.
That's not to say Betts is Bonds, either before or after steroids, it's just to illustrate that postseason statistics have a way of evening out in the long run.
As for Betts making it clear he won't give the Red Sox a discount, that's to be expected from such a competitive athlete. Why should we expect athletes to shut off their compete faucets once they sit at the negotiating table?
The fact that he hasn't said anything that makes people believe he wants to spend his entire career in Boston could mean he doesn't want to or it could just mean he's a smart negotiator. The Red Sox need to find out by staying in it with him until the final pitch.
Guaranteeing an athlete 10 years of salary certainly comes with risks, but in the case of Betts, the risk of watching him stay healthy as a perennial All-Star who develops into a postseason monster as well.