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How does the Mookie Betts trade affect the Cubs?

This is one of the biggest deals in many years.

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Short answer: It doesn’t.

Oh, you came here for a full article. Well, you are going to get one.

The Red Sox, Dodgers and Twins pulled off a major, five-player trade Tuesday night, which is summed up here:

I have already seen people talking as if this trade gives the Dodgers the division title, pennant, World Series, galactic domination, whatever, and the rest of the teams should just stay home.

This isn’t even close to being true. There was one more trade involving the Dodgers Tuesday evening:

So, essentially the Dodgers are replacing Kenta Maeda with David Price in their rotation, and replacing the combined production of Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo with Mookie Betts. That’s not an exact comparison, as Pederson and Verdugo played in the same game many times and combined for nearly 900 plate appearances. Many of those appearances were piled up replacing A.J. Pollock in the Dodgers outfield when Pollock missed time for more of the many injuries he’s suffered throughout his career. The L.A. outfield now appears to be Betts, Pollock and Cody Bellinger, which is certainly great if they’re all healthy and productive.

Pederson and Verdugo combined for 6.4 bWAR in 2019. Betts had 6.8 bWAR for the Red Sox. Again, this isn’t quite one-for-one because the Dodger pair had much more playing time than Betts. But Betts had that great year for the Red Sox and they won... 84 games, same as the Cubs.

Meanwhile, Maeda had a 1.3 bWAR season for the Dodgers in 2019, while Price posted 1.8 bWAR for Boston. Price missed significant time with injuries in two of the last three seasons. If he’s healthy — sure, he’s a better pitcher than Maeda.

But the Dodgers won 106 games without all these new players last year. They’ve already won their division seven year in a row. What did that do for them in the postseason? Not much, as they didn’t survive the division series round. There are also still large question marks surrounding their bullpen.

For Boston, this is the conclusion of their drive to get under the $208 million first level of luxury tax, the same thing the Cubs are presumably doing. The Red Sox have made no secret that they’re doing this, while the Cubs have danced around the number, never saying anything specific. It’s possible in both cases that by re-setting the tax number this year, both the Cubs and Red Sox could go back over in 2021, when the penalties for doing so (after a re-set) would be lower. Then there will be a new CBA after 2021, which could change the entire system of payroll penalties.

It’s got to be sobering for any Red Sox fan to read this list:

The Cubs will first see the Dodgers May 4, 5 and 6 at Dodger Stadium and will host them at Wrigley Field for a four-game series August 17-20. The Red Sox also visit Wrigley Field this year for a three-game set June 19, 20 and 21. We’ll get a first-hand look at all the changes for those two teams then.

Lastly, the Cubs are the only team David Price has never faced in any regular-season game. The only time the Cubs ever faced Price was in a spring-training game last March 26. They hit him really hard. Granted, that was just a spring game. I look forward to the Cubs competing against Price, Betts and the rest of the Dodgers. Great players? Sure. But nothing is guaranteed in baseball.