The Mookie Betts trade is already a pretty tough pill for a lot of Red Sox fans to swallow. It’s about to get even tougher, however, as the most notable piece of that trade coming back to Boston, Alex Verdugo, is likely to miss the start of the season.
That’s the word from Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, who reported yesterday that Verdugo has a bad back. It’s apparently a continuation of the oblique and back issues which caused him to miss the final two months of the 2019 season for the Dodgers. The Red Sox, Speier, reports, were aware of the lingering issues while negotiating the trade and do not believe them to be serious or long-term problems, but it’s not the sort of thing that’s gonna make your average Sox fan feel so much better about the trade.
Verdugo, 23, got his first extended stint in the majors last year and hit .294/.342/.475 with 12 homers, 44 RBI, and 43 runs scored in 377 plate appearances. His presumed absence to start the season is likely at least part of the reason the Sox went out and signed free agent Kevin Pillar to a one-year $4 million deal yesterday. Pillar, a defensive whiz, hit .259/.287/.432 with 21 homers and 14 steals over 161 games between the Blue Jays and Giants last year.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.