Four days after the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Twins agreed to a blockbuster trade, that deal may be taking a detour — though it remains to be seen whether that course change leads to a dead end.
A major league source confirmed that it is “very likely” that the Twins are backing out of the deal. The Star Tribune was first to report that Minnesota may be nearing an egress from negotiations. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that the Twins have set a Saturday deadline to resolve the impasse.
In the original agreement, Mookie Betts and David Price were to go to the Dodgers, Kenta Maeda to the Twins, and outfielder Alex Verdugo (from the Dodgers) and pitcher Brusdar Graterol (from the Twins) to the Red Sox. But that agreement first required review of each player’s medical files.
According to multiple major league sources, the Sox had some concerns related to the health of Graterol, with The Athletic reporting that the Sox concluded based on his medical file that his likelihood of emerging as a starter had diminished.
“It would not stun me,” one American League scout said on the Sox expressing pause surrounding Graterol’s health issues, “he’s had issues in the past.”
A National League executive said just as much, adding that Graterol possesses elite stuff on the mound, but can’t seem to stay healthy.
In June 2015, Graterol underwent Tommy John surgery. In May 2018 he dealt with back spasms, followed by shoulder impingement syndrome in 2019. Now, the Sox might have their own medical issues surrounding Graterol.
But, perhaps, that might not be the only thing that has held the Sox back from putting their final stamp on the Betts trade.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the backlash from fans and media members surrounding the Verdugo-Graterol return has given Sox ownership pause.
Scott Boras, Graterol’s agent, suggested that concluding Graterol would be less likely to emerge as a starter based on a review of the medical file ran counter to the conclusion of both Twins doctors and Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
“No doctor has told me that there is anything about his future going forward other than that it is very bright and he has no limitations. That is the evidence of people who have examined him,” said Boras. “Now I have people who have only looked at medical records — and I know have not contacted these doctors — making bald allegations about this player. It’s supposition.”
Boras also hinted at the fact that something else could be holding up the trade.
“It gets out as to the reason why a trade has a hiccup,” said Boras. “There could be a variety of reasons [for a trade to break down]. All I’m saying to this is that the reason is not Brusdar’s health.”
As a result, the Red Sox and Twins spent recent days discussing the possibility of alternate compensation — with the Sox seeking a prospect from Minnesota (reported by the Star Tribune to be another of the team’s top 10 prospects) in addition to Graterol.
Those discussions have moved deliberately, and ultimately stalled — with the departure of the Twins component of the deal seeming the likely outcome as of Saturday afternoon.
Assuming that Minnesota is indeed out of a three-way trade, two major league sources expressed hope that a deal could still be worked out, either directly between the Red Sox and Dodgers or with the involvement of a different team. It’s even possible that the Dodgers could make separate trades with the Twins (Maeda for one or more prospects) and Red Sox (Betts and Price, most likely for Verdugo and one or more additional prospects).
Two sources familiar with negotiations still believed it was more likely than not that a deal involving at least the Sox and Dodgers will still get done.
That said, while the absence of the Twins from a deal might not prove a deal-breaker, it lowers the probability of the deal between the Red Sox and Dodgers involving Betts, Price, and Verdugo by at least some degree.
If a deal between the Red Sox and Dodgers does collapse, other teams have reached out to Boston about the possibility of a deal. However, while the Padres — who talked extensively to the Sox about a Betts deal before the three-team agreement — represent an obvious alternative, San Diego made a separate deal Saturday that suggests that it doesn’t expect renewed talks.
The Padres sent Manuel Margot and prospect Logan Driscoll to the Rays for reliever Emilio Pagan. Margot had been among the names discussed in prospective packages for deals involving Betts. According to a major league source, San Diego’s inclusion of Margot in the Pagan deal occurred after the Padres concluded that the Red Sox were unlikely to re-engage them in trade talks.