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OC Register: Report: Prospect’s health has Dodgers, Angels waiting to complete trades

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The blockbuster three-way trade that would bring All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price to the Dodgers remained held up Thursday because of questions regarding the health of one player involved in the deal, though officials with the teams remain confident it will be completed, multiple media outlets reported.

The deal, which would send Betts and Price to the Dodgers, outfielder Alex Verdugo and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Boston Red Sox and starter Kenta Maeda to the Minnesota Twins, was not completed Wednesday after being agreed upon Tuesday night. The Red Sox reportedly were concerned about a medical review of Graterol, the hard-throwing 21-year-old right-hander who has undergone Tommy John surgery and missed time in 2019 because of a shoulder injury.

There are alternative options to complete the deal, according to reports. The players involved could be amended, as could the amount of money Boston is sending to the Dodgers to cover a portion of the $96 million still owed Price (any trade involving a cash exchange of more than $1 million also requires the approval of the commissioner’s office). The Dodgers and Red Sox could theoretically opt for a two-team deal or involve a different third team; Graterol is currently with the Twins.

The likelihood of the trade of Betts to the Dodgers falling apart altogether, is reportedly slim, as medical-related impasses are typically worked around. Although the negative reaction in Boston to trading Betts, a homegrown franchise player, was considerable, it was not a driving force behind the holdup, an ESPN report said. Boston simply wants to ensure that it receives a commensurate return for the 27-year-old right fielder, who is entering his final season before free agency and is expected to seek a contract well in excess of $300 million and perhaps even $400 million.

The three-way trade is tied to another proposed deal in which the Dodgers would reportedly send outfielder Joc Pederson, starter Ross Stripling and prospect Andy Pages to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo and one or two prospects. By trading Pederson, the Dodgers would remain underneath the $208 million luxury-tax threshold, even after taking on the hefty salaries of Betts and Price.

Another factor in the holdup of these trades, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported, was Pederson’s Thursday arbitration hearing. Pederson wanted $9.5 million, while the Dodgers offered $7.75 million; a decision from the arbitrator likely would come within 24 hours of the hearing’s conclusion. It’s unclear why Pederson’s hearing would cause a delay, but it’s possible the Dodgers simply needed to get it done before trading him. Another possibility is that the Angels want to know his salary before finalizing terms with the Dodgers.

An executive from an uninvolved team suspected that MLB was having a third party lawyer argue the other side of Pederson’s arbitration case, leaving the Dodgers and Angels out of it.

Boston’s motivation to dip beneath the threshold was a strong part of its motivation to trade Betts, sources said. Packaging Betts and Price allows Boston to shed more than $40 million in payroll this season and reset future luxury-tax consequences instead of exceeding the threshold for the third consecutive season and compounding the penalties for doing so.

The holdup, first reported by The Athletic, “is a problem but one we can figure out,” a source involved in the deal reportedly told ESPN. With pitchers and catchers due to report to Red Sox and Twins camp on Tuesday and Dodgers camp on Feb. 13, the incentive to find a quick resolution is strong.

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