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OC Register: Alexander: Was it really the medical info that held up Mookie Betts trade?


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The world according to Jim:

• Nearly a week ago, L.A. rejoiced. The Dodgers, who swing for the fences plenty on the field but have been  overly risk-averse otherwise, turned bold and (apparently) came away with one of baseball’s elite players, Mookie Betts.

Finally, on Sunday, Dodger fans are closer to being able to celebrate but only after exhaling, having stewed for a week over whether this thing was going to get done or not.

• In the meantime, eight players on four different teams – and who knows how many additional prospects – were in a state of uncertainty, with a trade contingent on medical clearance hung up because the Boston Red Sox decided that the reliever they were getting, Brusdar Graterol, evidently wasn’t healthy enough to be the starter they needed.

A couple players may still be in limbo. Stay tuned.

• Our interpretation of the holdup, here at What They Say vs. What They Mean Headquarters: Red Sox fans’ intense reaction to this trade – both the departure of former American League MVP Betts and what was perceived as a paltry return for Betts and David Price’s contract – led Red Sox head decision-maker Chaim Bloom to back away and ask for more, using the medical reports as cover.

Boston fans intense? Who knew?

• So the restructured deal reportedly agreed to Sunday – and nothing is official, remember, until the teams announce it – has infield prospect Jeter Downs and catching prospect Connor Wong going to Boston along with Alex Verdugo.

The upshot of Downs’ inclusion would be that the return from last winter’s trade of Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig turned out to be a lot greater than expected.

• This was an unusually long delay, but it’s a sign of the times. The only deals announced immediately these days are deadline deals. Most often, executives or (more often) agents leak the information – always with that “pending a physical” caveat – and even when there isn’t hesitancy the process drags.

(I would throw in a one-liner about this trade process being as laborious as “The Irishman,” except for two things. I liked “The Irishman” – sat through it all – and the three-hour, 29 minute length of that movie already has been compared to a typical Yankees-Red Sox game, in the New York Times no less.)

• And I’m just speculating here, but I would not be surprised if a well-placed Red Sox front office person put the original proposal out as a trial balloon last week, and the fierceness of the reaction from New England and its expatriates was stunning enough for the Sox to determine they needed to ask for more.

• The week’s wait also has the Players Association fired up. This is one more log to throw on a labor relations fire that is already blazing.

• Another effect of this delay is to demonstrate the drawbacks of Rube Goldberg-type trades such as this, the three- and four-team extravaganzas of which Andrew Friedman seems especially fond. All it takes is for one piece to go awry and the whole thing is in danger of falling apart.

• And if you don’t know who Rube Goldberg is and don’t feel like consulting Google, the late cartoonist’s specialty was, according to the rubegoldberg.com website, “inventions, also known as Rube Goldberg Machines, (that) solved a simple task in the most overcomplicated, inefficient, and hilarious way possible.”

Yep, that’s Andrew.

• The Dodgers-Twins trade evidently will remain intact, so the Dodgers wind up keeping Graterol, a right-handed reliever who sends radar guns into triple digits, and they get Betts and Price, plus a prospect they previously traded in Luke Raley, without giving up Dustin May or Gavin Lux. Even among Friedman’s critics in the Dodger fan base, I think you’d have to assume a thumbs up.

• As MLB Network insider – and one-time Daily Breeze baseball writer – Jon Heyman noted, “Non-Boston docs seem to have no big issue with Graterol meds.” What does that tell you?

• On a related note, the Padres traded for Tampa Bay closer Emilio Pagán Saturday, and if you’re a Dodger fan you might have, in a momentary panic, interpreted that as A.J. Preller preparing to assemble another package to offer the Red Sox. Then again, Manuel Margot, who went to the Rays in this deal, was part of San Diego’s original offer. What was Preller going to do, offer the Sox Wil Myers’ bloated contract?

Either way, Pagán adds to another stacked Padres bullpen. But a Dodgers pen with Graterol and a healthy Blake Treinen added to Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly and Adam Kolarek could be hard to screw up. (Your move, Dave Roberts.)

• As for the part of this multi-headed monster that didn’t work out? Ross Stripling posted a GIF of his own double fist pump on Twitter shortly after reports filtered out that the Dodgers-Angels deal, Stripling and Joc Pederson for Luis Rengifo and salary relief, was off.

A little while later, he deleted the tweet. The reason should be obvious: If you’ve been traded once you can be traded again, so no sense celebrating too soon.

• Since Angels owner Arte Moreno was said to be irate over the trade delay anyway, can we stipulate he’s not a Rube Goldberg fan?

• That said, even without this trade the Angels have sneakily made themselves a lot better this winter.

Hiring Joe Maddon was the start. Signing Anthony Rendon was the big piece. And while none of their pitching acquisitions were glamorous, their rotation is absolutely stronger by adding Dylan Bundy, Julio Teheran and, maybe, Matt Andriese to a starting pitching mix including Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and (later if not sooner) Shohei Ohtani. Even without Pederson’s addition, the Angels begin the year in good shape in the outfield and will be in even better shape once Jo Adell arrives for good.

• You may remember that This Space predicted a Freeway World Series before the 2018 season began.

I’m not going out on that limb again, not yet. But it could be a fun October around here.


@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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I dont believe it was personally.
Ive read too many things suggesting they got blasted for the return and what not to believe it was simply the medicals regardless of what they may have said.
As noted by Rosenthal, no one else seemed to have an issue with it.   This hardly seems enough for them to have blown everything it up when in the end they got more than the original.

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Let's summarize...

Red Sox pull out because of outrage from media and fanbase.

Tony Clark blows a bunch of hot air.

Justin Turner gets bent out of shape.

Arte has a tantrum.

Stripling tweets his pleasure in not being traded and then pulls it down.

The Dodgers get better.

The Twins get a slight upgrade.

The Red Sox look like idiots.

The Angels get screwed.


Edited by True Grich
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12 hours ago, AngelsWin.com said:

Another effect of this delay is to demonstrate the drawbacks of Rube Goldberg-type trades such as this, the three- and four-team extravaganzas of which Andrew Friedman seems especially fond. All it takes is for one piece to go awry and the whole thing is in danger of falling apart.

Kudos for the use of "Rube Goldberg"

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