Now we get to the meat and potatoes part of this idea, the trade itself. As you may be able to guess, finding the right combination of players to move between sides is a borderline impossible task but I did the best I could. Here is what I came up with:
So for one year of a potential MVP, the Dodgers give up Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray, and Kenta Maeda. Downs and Gray are both good, but not great prospects and Maeda has voiced his displeasure with his role in Los Angeles and a move to Boston would give the Red Sox a solid #3 or #4 to slide into their rotation.
Boston gets their Betts replacement in Mitch Haniger who is controlled for 3 more seasons, and Maeda filling two holes on their major league roster and at least keeping them in the same range of possible outcomes as if they kept Betts.
Now the part you care about, the Mariners haul. In this deal, the Mariners receive Downs and Gray, as well as Boston Red Sox prospect Noah Song. Dipoto spoke highly of Jeter Downs on the Root Sports telecast of the Arkansas Travellers playoff game against Tulsa and inferred he was a guy Seattle had inquired about at least once.
Downs is a good athlete with an above-average hit tool as well as above-average raw power that is showing up in games. He proved more than a match for the Cal League and finished his season in AA, slashing .276/.362/.526 with 24 homers and 24 steals in 460 ABs.
Defensively, Downs is a solid average shortstop and an above-average second baseman. Some believe he may ultimately wind up in centerfield, where his instincts and athleticism will help. His bat profiles best up the middle, but he has the arm to handle a corner spot as well. Downs will likely begin 2020 in AA.
Gray is a 21-year-old RHP who, like Logan Gilbert, pitched in 3 different levels in 2019 and posted outstanding numbers along the way. In 130 innings, Gray struck out 147 hitters and walked just 31.
Gray shows a plus fastball that touches 97 with a good spin rate and he sits 92-95 and carries it deep into games. He backs up the heater with a plus slider, which shows good shape and depth and could become his best offering. His curveball and changeup are both fringe-average and he is more of a control vs command arm that could need a full year in the minors to straighten out.
Gray is a great athlete who spent the first 2 years of college as a shortstop, so he is still learning how to be a pitcher. He has the upside of a #3 but should be a back-end bullpen option at the worst. Gray is similar to Mariners’ prospect Justin Dunn.
From the Red Sox, the Mariners nab Noah Strong, a right-handed pitcher from the Naval Academy who fell thanks to uncertainty surrounding his ability to defer service while a pro athlete. Things are starting to trend towards the positive direction for Song the baseball player, and his profile is an exciting one.
He starts with a 95 MPH heater that runs in on righties late and backs it up with 2 quality breaking balls, both of which have a chance to be plus. He rounds out the weaponry with an average changeup and an ability to throw strikes. He didn’t face elite competition in college, but the raw stuff is on par with George Kirby (though the command isn’t).
The Mariners may need to send a quality reliever like Sam Tuivailala to the Dodgers or Red Sox as the finer points are being worked out, but the overall big picture idea could work in some capacity. The Dodgers are paying full price for Betts, except much of that return is going to Seattle.
L.A. gets another superstar, Boston clears payroll and stays competitive, and Seattle gets 3 prospects who all slide somewhere inside their top 10 and are relatively close to the big leagues. Again, there are a lot of little things that need to be worked out in this deal, but the bones are solid.
In terms of fit, salary, player evaluations, etc, there is a lot to like about this deal for all sides. It’s not perfect and I’m sure you can tear it down in specific parts. But at the end of the day, it’s at least viable and most importantly for our purposes, a lot of fun to think about.