Mookie Betts headlining a trade package for Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels.
Many people these days seem to think it’s a no-brainer to make that deal, but should the Red Sox really want to give up Betts, one of the more talented young players in the organization?
Sure, Betts was a fifth round pick and not as hyped as some other prospects until last year, but the people who seemingly have no problem dealing him away seem to be overlooking what he’s accomplished and proven the past few years.
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How about how he tore up the minor leagues, including an unearthly on-base streak? From 2013-14 (between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland) Betts reached base in 66 straight regular season games, plus five playoff games for a combined streak of 71 games.
Starting the year in Double-A last year, Betts raced through the minors to make his MLB debut on June 28. The transition included making the switch from second base to the outfield.
Some may look at Betts and then look to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts as prospects who struggled in their second year in the major leagues. But Betts performed much better than the other two in his first year in the majors, and he played in 58 games - much more time than the other two. In 2013 (his first year), Bradley Jr. hit .189 in 95 at-bats with 31 strikeouts. Bogaerts in 2013 (his first year) didn’t have much experience before the postseason, hitting .250 in 44 at-bats with 13 strikeouts. Betts outperformed them both, as the outfielder hit .291 in 189 at-bats with 31 strikeouts in his first year of 2014.
Betts also trumps Bradley Jr. and Bogaerts based off of minor league success. Betts had a slash line of .313/.406/.465 in his four seasons in the minors. Bradley Jr.’s was .290/.394/.456 in his four seasons, while Bogaerts’ was .296/.373/.489 in his four seasons.
Again, advantage Betts.
Yes, there is logjam in the Red Sox outfield with Betts seemingly competing with 2013 ALCS hero Shane Victorino for the starting right fielder's job. The 22-year-old is saying all the right things as spring training kicks off -- he’s still learning the position and whatever happens, happens, but in reality, the Red Sox should be finding a way to ensure Betts is on the Red Sox, and playing everyday.
One of manager John Farrell’s top candidates to lead off, Betts is a prospect still growing and having him start the year in Triple-A would hurt his development, especially after proving he belongs in the big leagues for an extended period last year.
Let’s not forget the type of player Betts is -- a potential star for the Red Sox. Not one to be traded for a 31-year-old pitcher.