MLBPA head Tony Clark urges resolution to Mookie Betts trade situation

Tony Clark
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The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement from Executive Director Tony Clark in which the head of the players’ union called for the teams involved in the complicated Mookie Betts to, basically, get on with it already. The statement reads as follows:

“The proposed trades between the Dodgers, Red Sox Twins and Angels need to be resolved without further delay. The events of this last week have unfairly put several Players’ lives in a state of limbo. The unethical leaking of medial 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.”

Go off, Tony.

There’s a few things Clark is referencing here. The main one is that the Betts trade (and subsequent Joc Pederson/Ross StriplingLuis Rengifo trade) is reportedly being held up by the fact that the Red Sox have concerns about the medicals of for-now Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol, who would go to the Dodgers in exchange for Kenta Maeda before being flipped to Boston as part of the package for Betts and David Price. Still with us here?

Graterol is a well-regarded prospect who debuted in 2019 and pitched in relief for Minnesota. He’s a starter by trade, but many believe that the combination of his stuff and his injury history point to a full-time career in the bullpen. The Red Sox apparently didn’t agree until they looked at the Twins’ internal medical records, which is standard procedure when making a trade. Boston apparently now wants more compensation for Betts and Price than just Graterol and Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo, since they no longer value Graterol quite as highly.

The other wrinkle here is that the trade that would send Pederson and Stripling to Anaheim is conditional upon the Betts trade being completed. Pederson actually just had a salary arbitration hearing while all of this was hanging over his head. The Dodgers won, meaning he’ll make $7.75M instead of $9.5. Jon Heyman reports that Angels owner Arte Moreno is quite unhappy about all of these delays. I’m sure he’s not the only one.

Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball or privileged access to the Twins’ medical records, but Graterol projecting as a reliever wasn’t exactly a big secret in the industry, and a fair amount of the independent prospect evaluation community is on the record as feeling that way. Maybe there’s something in those records that sets off some alarm bells for Chaim Bloom and company, but we’re getting to the stage where this is getting even sillier than the basic concept of willingly trading Mookie Betts to save some cash.

Clark is absolutely in the right to issue a statement as strongly worded as this one, and one can only hope that this will all get sorted out sooner rather than later. The whole bit about players being treated as commodities and not as people, though? That’s unfortunately not going away any time soon. There’s a school of thought that says that baseball is a business and these guys knew what they were signing up for, but that’s crap. These players are going to have to uproot their families and lives, and the least the Red Sox can do is bring this to a speedy resolution.

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