Nationals Opinions: Mookie Betts A Trade Option At Second Base


The latest free agent has finally signed with the Boston Red Sox locking up 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada to a $31.5 million contract on Monday. While Moncada will start in the minor leagues this season, this gives the Boston Red Sox some more depth in the infield.

With that being said, I wanted to re-visit a trade proposal that was brought up back in January by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Cameron wrote an article about how the Washington Nationals should deal Stephen Strasburg for second baseman/outfielder Mookie Betts. Strasburg is a free agent after the 2016 season, but I think that this kind of a trade could apply to Jordan Zimmermann as well.

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First off, Betts has no room in Boston with a crowded outfield, including signing Rusney Castillo last year to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal and Dustin Pedroia being their franchise second baseman for the forseeable future. Meanwhile, the Nationals, should Ian Desmond walk in free agency after this season.

Desmond made some comments regarding this season and upcoming free agency to the Washington media on Monday, the first day he was at Spring Training in Viera, Florida:

"“I owe it to everybody here to give my 100 percent concentration and that’s what I’m going to do,” Desmond said. “All the other stuff is really not going to be talked about. It’s time to go. “If it’s my last year here, it’s my last year here. I’m going to enjoy every single day.” (h/t Bill Ladson,"

Should Desmond decide to walk after this season, the Nationals, you would think, would move either Danny Espinosa or Yunel Escobar to shortstop. Plus, prospects like Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner (who will be with the Nats in June) might not be ready until after the 2016 season. If that’s the case, Washington could use a young second baseman that has proven his ability at the major league level.

While Mike Rizzo has said that he will keep the rotation in tact, who knows if that will remain the case at the Trade Deadline depending on injuries and any updates in extension talks, which the team has had none with Desmond.

Let’s take a look at Betts as a player. In 52 games with Boston last year, he hit .291 with five home runs and 18 RBI’s and had a .368 on-base percentage. The 22-year old had a great finish to the season, hitting .317 in September with two home runs and ten RBI’s.

He has fielding flexibility when you consider he made 12+ starts in right field, center field, and at second base last season. According to Fangraphs’ Steamer projections, Betts is slotted to hit .283 in 2015 with nine home runs, 57 RBI’s, and a WAR of 2.6.

I asked Brandon Nickel, the co-editor of BoSox Injection about this possible trade idea involving Strasburg/Zimmermann for Betts, when you consider that Betts has been one of the names rumored in a possible Cole Hamels trade with the Philadelphia Phillies:

"“Definitely not one for one and with the Moncada signing, money is flying out of Boston. To trade young talent now seems suspect, with no ace but a decent pitching staff on paper, including some possible fixes in the bullpen. Moncada may change some thinking if he is what everyone says he is. Bogaerts has pressure in the future.”"

If the Phillies don’t trade Hamels before the July 31 trade deadline, you know teams will be calling Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo to ask about Zimmermann or Strasburg depending on where the Nationals are in the standings. It’s not a move that I would do, but at the same time, Betts is one of those players that would bring youth to the Nationals as well as someone who can be a solid everyday player in the future.

Next: Nationals News: Ryan Zimmerman to focus on first base, won't play outfield

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