MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels

Connor Wong reacts during an exhibition game last season. Now he's in the Red Sox organization.

SOMETIMES, the best trades you make are the ones you wind up not making.

If you follow sports, you have no doubt heard that expression over the years. You get all hyped about a potential deal, it falls through and the player or players you would have traded wind up as mainstays for you.

We’ve all heard that, but what about the trades you make, then you un-make — and then wind up making, just in a different form?

That’s what happened with the Red Sox as they prepared to open spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., and the end result seems to be that they made out OK.

First, they “traded” Mookie Betts, David Price and cash to the Dodgers as part of a three-way (actually four) and got Alex Verdugo back from the Dodgers and Brusdar Graterol back from the Twins, who were getting Kenta Maeda from L.A., with the Dodgers then swapping Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo.

It was complicated — and then it fell apart because the Red Sox apparently didn’t like what they’d seen on Graterol’s medicals.

Both the Red Sox and Dodgers found themselves in the position of having to make this thing happen.

So, the Dodgers tossed in a couple of prospects with apparent futures and the Sox wound up with three young players. The Dodgers wound up with Betts, Price AND Graterol, who can hit 100 mph on the radar gun and could come back to haunt the Red Sox.

But you can’t think that way. Feeling they needed to get Betts out of here and quickly — and we will argue for months if they should have gone for it one more time with Mookie, not Verdugo, in right field — Boston got three young pieces.

Verdugo is the new right fielder, Jeter Downs is an infielder likely to move from shortstop to second base. And the Red Sox received catcher Connor Wong, too.

Wong is not projected to be a starting catcher in the major leagues but is said to be versatile. After hitting .281 with 24 homers in High-A and Double-A last year, you wonder if he could find a place on the current Boston roster as the new 26th man.

As far as Downs, who had been acquired from the Reds in the Yasiel Puig deal, there’s no room for him at shortstop but second base is certainly available for the future. He also hits with power.

Verdugo is 23, Downs 21 and Wong 23.

Graterol is 21 and the Dodgers are excited to have him entering the back end of their bullpen.

More cheating news

With the commissioner set to make his punishment of the Red Sox over their 2018 alleged shenanigans, the Astros continue to absorb more cheating allegations.

We gave AJ Hinch credit for sounding apologetic when talking to Tom Verducci of the MLB Network. What we missed was Verducci asking the fired manager if the ’Stros used buzzers, something that’s popped into the picture since Jose Altuve clutched his shirt while coming toward home plate after his walk-off homer eliminated the Yankees from the 2019 ALCS.

As in don’t rip my shirt off because I’m wearing a buzzer.

Hinch would not say his team used buzzers, instead saying MLB investigated and found nothing. Not a denial.

This interview was aired just as the Wall Street Journal piece that sent the cheating up to the front office as early as 2016.

Good luck to Dusty Baker as he navigates this team through the 2020 season.

Monday, Masahiro Tanaka, speaking at Yankees camp in Tampa, said he felt cheated in 2017 and, through an interpreter, added, “The competition should be equal. That’s my feeling.”

Oh, and Monday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale revealed former Toronto righty Mike Bolsinger is suing the Astros for helping end his brief career by cheating. In addition to his personal damages, Bolsinger wants the Astros to donate $31 million made from winning in 2017 to “children’s charities and to start a fund benefiting retired players.”

Tweet news

On the subject of cheating, the White House resident weighed in on the situation, saying the Astros players not getting punished means Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.

“Pete Rose played Major League Baseball for 24 seasons, from 1963-1986, and had more hits, 4,256, than any other player (by a wide margin),” he tweeted. “He gambled, but only on his own team winning, and paid a decades long price. GET PETE ROSE INTO THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME. It’s Time!”

Not so fast.

While it may well be true Rose never bet against his own team, what about the games where he didn’t bet ON the Reds. If he, say, knew his starting pitcher had a bit of a shoulder or elbow problem but was pitching anyway, the manager doesn’t bet –which in turn alerts the bookie not to back the Reds on that particular night. He did NOT bet on the Reds EVERY night.

And remember, Rose made a plea bargain with MLB and immediately said “They had nothing on me.” He never ‘fessed up to anything until he was trying to sell a book.

Any given Sunday

Yes, the Bruins had to play in Detroit some 18 hours after finishing a game at home while the Red Wings were rested, sitting at home. But the Bruins came into Sunday’s game with 80 points, first overall, while the Wings had 30 points, last overall.

And the Bruins had 40 shots at journeyman goalie Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 39 shots as Detroit won its 14th game of the season, moving to 2-0; both wins by former Manchester Monarch Bernier.

The Bruins, who had their six-game winning streak snapped, had a goal called back after an endless offside review, so that makes 41 shots. The Wings had just 19 shots at Tuukka Rask, a surprise starter with Jaro Halak sick.

Sorry, the numbers just don’t point to the B’s being tired. They even tied the game early in the third period and should have put this terrible team away.

“Give Detroit credit for winning the hockey game, but I don’t think they were the better team,” said Bruce Cassidy.

The Canadiens, with a rejuvenated Ilya Kovalchuk, visit the B’s Wednesday night. After passing twice on Kovy, there had been talk the B’s were talking trade with the hated Habs.

But if you happened to see Saturday night’s Habs-Leafs game, you saw Kovalchuk flying, scoring the OT goal, his sixth goal in 15 games with Montreal. And the Canadiens are suddenly playoff contenders.

“We needed a pure goal-scorer and I think he still is a pure goal-scorer,” said Claude Julien, comparing what Kovalchuk is doing now to what Mark Recchi did at the end of his career.

Finally, a couple of fun stats from the weekend: The Bruins have beaten Arizona 16 straight times — and the L.A. Kings are 0-21-1 this season when trailing after the first period.

Finally II: Sunday’s print editions had a comment from Rob Gronkowski that had the big fella saying “52 + 81 = 83.” But his math wasn’t bad: it was my typing and should have read 52 + 31 = 83.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.