MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox

Kevin Pillar is shown during spring training. Pillar was traded from the Red Sox to the Colorado Rockies on Monday.

IN SPORTS, as in everything else in life, you just never know.

When the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, the general feeling was this was a salary dump and there was no reason to go for another postseason knowing Betts could walk for a draft pick after the season.

And why not make the move to get under the tax threshold? After all, the Yankees, having signed Gerrit Cole, were going to win 150 games anyway, right? Why bother?

But here’s the thing: the Yankees, who were racked by injuries last year, are getting hammered again, with starters James Paxton and Luis Severino already hurt. Paxton is due back in late May and Severino, who missed most of last season, is going back to New York for a battery of tests on his sore right forearm.

Throw in the fact that Domingo German, who won 18 games last season, is still suspended for slapping his girlfriend and will miss the first 63 games. Oh, and Aaron Judge was battling shoulder soreness.

See — you never know.

The Yankees, who along with the Dodgers are heavy favorites to play in the World Series, already have all kinds of adversity and a fully stocked Sox roster might have been able to slip through that cracked door.

OK, Betts is gone. Heck, the Dodgers have already produced a bobblehead of him – and the Red Sox continue to deal with the outfield situation while also looking for a fifth starter (who is NOT an opener?). There was talk this week of a three-way deal that would see Wil Myers coming to Boston, but you wonder how that can happen with all the bodies already on the roster.

Does Jackie Bradley Jr. go in that deal? Remember, newly signed Kevin Pillar is an outstanding center fielder as well.

The offseason of Red Sox nation discontent continued right into the opening week of Spring Training with Brock Holt signed a one-year contract with the Brewers.

Gotta wonder about this one. Earlier, the Sox signed Jose Peraza to a deal worth some $3 million coming off a .239 season with the Reds. Holt, a Boston fixture on and off the field, got a reported $3.25 million plus some hefty incentives based on plate appearances. There is a $5 million team option for 2021, with a $750,000 buyout.

So, it seems Holt cost a bit more than Peraza, who will be in the mix for the Sox’ second base spot.

Clearly, the Red Sox are hoping Peraza regains the 2018 form that saw him hit .288 with 14 homers and 58 games in 157 games.

“I don’t get it. Why not bring him back for that?” tweeted WEEI’s Lou Merloni, obviously not a fan of what the Red Sox have done since the end of last season.

Holt took to Instagram to than the fans for his time in Boston.

“Boston. You took a boy from Texas and made him one of your own,” he said under a picture of him, his family, and the World Series trophy from 2018. “It has been an absolute honor to play for your team. It doesn’t last forever. But the relationships I’ve built will. I became a husband, a father and a champion playing for you. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Useful player. Good guy. He’ll be missed.

Still no decision

The Red Sox remain in wait for the commissioner’s decision on what they did or didn’t do in that magical 2018 season.

Meanwhile, the Astros keep enduring the verbal attacks from around the game – people are screaming they should be stripped of their title and … well, tarred and feathered.

Forget it – it’s not going to happen. There will be no stripping for Jose Altuve REFUSING to strip, no MVP award for Aaron Judge … nothing. Player punishment? Which players? All players, some more than others? No, commissioner Rob Manfred has handled this the only way it could have been handled. It’s over. Time to move on – just as it will be when the Red Sox get their punishment.

Brawls? I doubt it. But it will be interesting to see Houston players’ interaction with opponents on the field.

Fan abuse? Sure. The Astros are at Fenway May 22-24 and we’ll see how the Red Sox fans handle it, especially with the locals under the cloud of suspicion.

As far as the commish calling the trophy “a piece of metal,” can we give the guy a break? He was making a point and he apologized. Players screaming he has no connection to the players was rather harsh. Too harsh.

Oh, and David Ortiz. Sorry, but stuff it, Papi (even though I love the smaht pahk commercial). Mike Fiers also did the right thing as the whistleblower and was in no position to speak out whole he was actually on the Astros.

Good pickup

Don Sweeney pulled the trigger a few days early on a deal, adding winger Ondrej Kase Friday while shedding much of David Backes‘ contract – a gamble on a still-young player who has had a problem with injuries but has skill.

As far as another deal before Monday’s deal, Sweeney said, “I don’t know what will be, or can be done. We’ll continue to make calls and look at different opportunities.”

Meanwhile, his team continues to play like one very much intent on returning to the final. Tuukka Rask is looking very much like a Vezina winner. David Pastrnak could be the MVP. All was rolling in B’s Land heading into Vancouver Saturday night.

Looking around

Alex Verdugo is the first player in Red Sox history to wear No. 99. He has a number. Now he has to get on the field. …

Great stat of the week: the Lightning outscored their opponents 36-13 at even strength during their 11-game winning streak but went 1-for-28 on the power play over that span. They then scored two power play goals at Vegas – and lost. …

Jack Leiter, the son of former big league pitcher Al and nephew of former big league pitcher Mark, made his college debut for Vanderbilt this week: five innings, no hits, one walk, 12 strikeouts. …

According to Tankathon.com, the Celtics have the eighth-toughest NBA schedule the rest of the way. The Grizzlies, fighting to stay alive in the West, have the toughest. …

Ortiz, who seems to be commenting on everything these days, to WEEI on Tom Brady: “I don’t want him to go anywhere. I want him to stay. “That’s my mind. But it’s up to whatever is best for him and his family. It’s not all about what people think. He has a choice what is good for him. It’s not just for people telling him what he has to do.” Regardless of what Brady does, Papi thinks TB12’s legacy is set in stone around here. “His legacy has already been built. It’s always there,” he said. “That’s not the problem. His problem is not going to be legacy. He could go and play somewhere else for the next 10 years when he returns to New England his legacy is going to be there. …

Rusney Castillo will spend his final year of Triple-A purgatory this season at the healthy salary of $13.5 million. …

Sign of the times? The Oakland A’s are off radio and can be heard only on the internet this season – in the Bay Area only. They will still be heard on the radio along their network.

The Islanders raised John Tonelli‘s No. 27 to the Nassau Coliseum rafters Friday night but current team captain Anders Lee will continue to wear the number. Tonelli, one of the hardest-working on greatest guys ever to lace on the skates, supports the number still being active. …

Just wondering: could Brady be looking at another $100 million? He can if the Raiders get involved. …

We love our mock drafts, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Patriots, selecting 23rd, going for quarterback Jacob Eason (Eason?) from Washington. “Yes, that’s right,” he wrote, “I’m still going with a quarterback for the Patriots, who still don’t know if they’ll have Tom Brady under center in 2020 … I like 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, but I’m not sold on him as a long-term starter.”…

By the way, Jacob Eason is Tony Eason‘s son, but not that Tony Eason. This Tony Eason played college ball at Notre Dame. …

ESPN’s Jon Sciambi on Twitter: “From the great @PaulHembo: Astros in 2017 postseason: Home: 8-1 W-L; 51 runs; 18 HR; 37 extra base hits; .273 BA; .343 OBP; .519 SLG. Road: 3-6 W-L; 27 runs; 9 HR; 24 extra base hits; .208 BA; .284 OBP; .347 SLG.”…

Antonio Brown says, “We would like to make it happen” when asked about a reunion with Brady. “You gotta have a relationship with a quarterback. Quarterback is everything. I just think Tom is a special quarterback,” Brown said in a recent radio chat. “His leadership, him affecting the guys around him, putting guys at peace and encouraging them to work as hard as he does.” …

Yeonis Cespedes, trying to get back on the field to start earning the crazy money given to him by the Mets, won’t be talking to the media about it. “Not today, not tomorrow and not at all this year,” he said this week. …

Mike Milbury on the now-demolished Joe Louis Arena in Detroit: “Great hockey teams but a charmless dump from the day it opened.” …

No great surprise Kyrie Irving shut it down for the rest of the season with shoulder surgery. This year is all about 2020-21, when Kevin Durant joins the fun. Meanwhile, the Nets are still a headache when you have to face them. …

Twins right fielder Max Kepler grew up in Germany and told the AP’s Ken Powtak he grew up idolizing Derek Jeter. …

Love this from Boston numbers guy Tucker Boynton earlier this week: “Over the last five seasons; Brad Marchand: 364 games, 169 goals, 236 assists, 405 points; Sidney Crosby: 345 games, 155 goals, 244 assists, 399 points.”

We missed commenting on the passing of former Blue Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez at the age of 57 last week. Very good player, a winner and great guy. …

Forbes has the Celtics valued as the fifth-highest among NBA teams at $3.1 billion. The woeful Knicks head the list, at $4.6 billion, followed by the Lakers (4.4), Warriors (4.3) and Bulls (3.2). …

Remember, Monday is the 40th anniversary of the U.S. kids winning the Gold Medal in Lake Placid. …

The Giants have omitted Aubrey Huff, he of the controversial social media, from their 10-year anniversary celebration of the 2010 title. “Aubrey has made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization,” the club said in a statement. …

Finally, it’s been a year since Nick Cafardo passed away. This summer, his family will usher him into the Hall of Fame. Fitting tribute to a great guy and great newsman! We miss his presence every day.

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.