The Mookie Betts Trade Is Unprecedented in Baseball History

On Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox ended months of low-level disbelief and bemusement—and incited several news cycles of intense disbelief and bemusement—by following through on their long-rumored intention to trade right fielder Mookie Betts. Boston reportedly sent Betts, along with pitcher David Price and cash, to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team trade, netting 23-year-old Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo and 21-year-old Minnesota Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol in return. (The Dodgers sent pitcher Kenta Maeda to the Twins to seal the deal.)

A deal of this magnitude demands multiple angles of inquiry: what it means for the Dodgers from a competitive standpoint; what it means for the Red Sox from a financial and competitive standpoint; what it tells us about baseball’s economics at large; and, less pressingly, what it means for Minnesota. I’m not going to tackle all of those angles here. I’m here to express something simple: the stupendous improbability that a player like Mookie was moved at all. To put it plainly: This swap is unprecedented. No player boasting Betts’s combination of excellence and youth has ever been traded before.

When ESPN’s Jesse…

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