LOS ANGELES — Mookie Betts and David Price strolled on the Dodger Stadium field early Wednesday afternoon. The Los Angeles sun reflected off both their faces as they made their way to center field to greet their new beginning.
There was a calmness about them. The pigeon-toed Betts no longer walked as if he was trying to elude a sea of reporters in a Red Sox clubhouse insistent on asking him questions about trade possibilities or free agency. Price, on the other hand, appeared overcome with joy and shared more than his share of laughs with Betts.
What was done, was done. The two, in their new home on their new coast, were at peace.
In a trade that took nearly a week to complete, Betts and Price were introduced, and finally donned Dodger blue.
It was here that Betts, 472 days ago, homered off Clayton Kershaw in the top of the sixth inning of World Series Game 5. It was here that Price put together a herculean performance, going seven innings, giving up just a run and three hits. The label of not coming through in the playoffs, finally, came off his broad shoulders.
Now, the City of Angels sees Betts and Price as its chance to capture an ever-elusive seventh title.
“To be able to jump on a team like the Dodgers,” Price explained, “a team that has had the amount of success they have had the past couple of years, to be able to add a player like Mookie Betts and then to be able to add myself to that mix as well, that’s something special to be a part of.”
It was an arduous offseason for Sox fans. They dealt with scandal, the loss of manager Alex Cora, and now Betts and Price are both gone, too. The club, and new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, are preaching patience while still expecting to remain competitive in the 2020 season. Bloom is playing the long game, leaning on the idea of sustainable success. But trading Betts, an MVP and arguably the second-best player in all of baseball, is unquestionably an audacious strategy.
A team like the Red Sox, a cash cow, letting go of its best position player in nearly half a century because they don’t find it fiscally responsible in the long term is inexplicable to some fans — even as Bloom sat there late Monday evening in Fort Myers and attempted to explain it. There’s no direct path to winning right now in Boston. It’s not linear.
Betts, on the other hand, remained direct and logical as he sorted through his feelings regarding being traded from the only organization he ever knew.
“It’s still a business,” Betts said. “Once you understand that, you can put those emotions aside when it comes to business time.”
Boston has its memories for Betts, who was drafted by the club back in 2011 out of high school. In a way, he grew up with that fan base.
“I love Boston,” Betts said. “It’s been my life for nine years. And so, I thank them for everything. I can’t ask them for anything more than what they did for me.”
Betts was in the batting cage when he first heard the news that the trade had finally gone through. Price was at home with his family. He said he had spoken to Bloom before the news broke, and could see why the Sox organization went in that direction.
“I understand people being surprised by it,” Price said of the trade. “I’ve done this for a while. I’ve seen a lot of different moves. If I try to put myself in that owner’s seat, or that general manager’s seat, you can kind of wrap your head around it and understand what was going on, what they were trying to do.”
Price has been traded three times. As he noted, he’s been at this for a while. He’s offered advice to Betts, telling him that a transaction is out of his control. Betts described it as “definitely something new that he had to get used to.”
Still, Betts is due to be a free agent at the end of the year and seems set on hitting the free-agent market. When asked if he would consider re-signing in Boston, Betts didn’t quite rule that piece out, again, professing his love for it.
“I love Boston, man,” Betts said, “but I do know that it’s a business and I have to worry about 2020 right now and get to that point whenever it’s time.”
Los Angeles will provide both greener pastures than Fenway Park this season. The Dodgers are heavy favorites to come out of the National League and make it to another World Series. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has long coveted Betts, and when he mentioned to manager Dave Roberts that they could potentially trade for him, Roberts was all in.
“When Andrew brought that as a possibility, obviously you get excited,” Roberts said. “You get curious. It wasn’t a straight line, but ultimately, it got done. I know, speaking for the coaches, the players, and the fans, it’s an exciting day.”
Price and Betts made their way through the bowels of Dodger Stadium around 2 p.m. Pacific, surrounded by Dodger employees and wives.
Price’s wife, Tiffany, couldn’t make it, but her voice echoed over FaceTime instead.
“Welcome to the Dodgers,” you could hear one of the wives tell Tiffany.
Los Angeles gave both Betts and Price its warm welcome.