The Weekly Reed: The Trade History of Boston and LA

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts (50) talks with Boston Red Sox’s Alex Verdugo (99) and Rafael Devers, right, during a review of a play at first base in the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Boston. Betts was ruled out. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

This past weekend featured a big baseball matchup with the Dodgers visiting the Red Sox at Fenway Park. All-star Mookie Betts made his first return to Boston since the blockbuster trade following the 2019 season that landed him and David Price in Dodger blue and sent Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong and Jeter Downs to Boston.  

Boston has four former Dodgers on their roster currently (Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, Alex Verdugo and Justin Turner) while Los Angeles rosters five former Red Sox (Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, J.D. Martinez, Enrique Hernandez and Mookie Betts). With all the reunions that took place this weekend, it got me thinking about the trade history between the two teams. While the Mookie trade has definitely made a huge impact on both organizations, it’s just one of the many trades that really stands out between these two.  

The first one that comes to mind is the 2012 trade deadline deal between the Dodgers and Sox. This was the trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto to LA for five players. The Dodgers took over $260 million in contracts to obtain these stars but in the end, it didn’t really pay out for them. Beckett was gone after 2014 while Crawford ended his Dodgers career in 2016. Both played around league average over their tenures on the team with Beckett racking up an ERA+ of 106 over three seasons and Crawford achieving an OPS+ of 102 during his four seasons. Gonzalez was the biggest addition in the trade and played in LA until 2017, earning a Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and All-Star game nod during his time there, posting an OPS+ of 119 over six seasons. As for Boston, clearing up salary allowed them to sign a group of veteran players that would lead them to a World Series win in 2013. LA failed to make a World Series with any of the players they acquired from the Sox, but they’ve still managed to make every postseason since. 

It’s easy to see that in the history of the Red Sox, they’ve dealt a lot of big stars to the Dodgers. However, none had as big a personality as Manny Ramirez. Just one season after winning the 2007 World Series, Boston sent one of the most important players from the 21st Century over to LA to acquire budding star Jason Bay in a three-team deal with the Pirates. Ramirez had been essential to Boston’s two World Series wins in 2004 and 2007, earning eight All-Star appearances, five top-10 MVP finishes and six Silver Slugger awards. Bay, a rookie of the year winner in 2004, had a couple All-Star appearances himself and two top-25 MVP finishes. Ramirez and Bay both dominated for their respective teams over the course of the second half. Manny hit 17 home runs in just 53 games with the Dodgers that season, helping bring the team to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) before losing to the Phillies. Bay carried his hot bat from Pittsburgh into Fenway, bringing in 37 RBIs in 49 games, helping the Red Sox to that year’s American League Championship Series (ALCS) before losing to Tampa Bay. The next season was more of the same for these two. Despite Ramirez being suspended for 50 games for violating the MLBPA’s Drug Program he still played solid for the 104 games he was able to play. Bay had a phenomenal year, finishing top-7 in MVP voting, winning his first Silver Slugger and earning his third All-Star game appearance. He slashed .267/.384/.537 with an OPS+ of 134 in 2009, playing in 151 games. Ramirez would be out of LA halfway through 2010 and Bay left Boston to head to Queens on a four-year deal with the Mets following his stellar 2009 season.  

The Mookie Betts trade is what has defined both teams over the past few seasons. Betts helped bring the Dodgers their first World Series ring in 32 years in just his first season with the team in 2020. Infielder Jeter Downs, a once highly ranked prospect, made his debut with Boston in 2022 before being released following the season. Outfielder Alex Verdugo has made himself at home with the Red Sox, playing in over 460 games the past four seasons, even finishing 12th in MVP votes in the 2020 shortened season. The most surprising piece the Red Sox got back has been catcher Connor Wong. The speedy catcher has found some footing this season, playing in over 100 games already and solidifying the hole that was left after Christian Vazquez was traded. While Verdugo and Wong have been nice everyday players for the Red Sox, Betts has somehow become an even bigger star in LA. The 2018 MVP beat his single season home run record last season when he smacked 35 out of the ballpark. At the end of August this season, he has already matched that total with a month left to go. He’s had two full seasons with an OPS+ over 140 since joining the Dodgers and as of right now owns a 171 for that category.  

To find the most recent trade between these two teams, you only have to go back a few weeks to just before the deadline. Boston sent utility player Kike Hernandez over for two Triple-A relievers in just another deal for these franchises. Even the Dodgers current manager Dave Roberts was a part of a trade between these two teams back in 2004, one that proved to be key in the Red Sox 2004 World Series run. While the Mookie trade has definitely defined these teams as of late, it’s not the only time these teams have had a big impact on each other.  

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