BOSTON — On Sunday evening, the Boston Red Sox completed a long, drawn-out trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.
The MVP of the American League in 2018, Betts joins a longer-than-you’d-imagine list of Boston sports stars traded out of the Bay State since 2000. But where does the pain/ire of trading Betts rank among those other trades in the eyes of local sports fans?
Since the turn of the millennium, Boston has been home to a dozen champions and some of the greatest sports moments we’ve ever seen, from the Red Sox comeback in 2004 to the Patriots 25-point rally in Super Bowl LI. But with that success has also come some painful and angering trades in the eyes of many fans.
The Red Sox have been at the center of those controversial deals several times in the last two decades, trading homegrown stars in Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in 2004 and Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics in 2014. But they are not the only club in New England to leave their fans asking, “why would we get rid of that player?”
In November 2005, the Boston Bruins traded their captain and former number one overall pick Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Wayne Primeau, Marco Sturm and Brad Stuart.
Nearly eight years later, the Bruins shipped 21-year-old Tyler Seguin, the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, out of town in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow.
Thornton was 26 at the time of the trade and went on to win the NHL’s Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP that same year. Since then he has spent 15 seasons with San Jose while Seguin has emerged as a bonafide stud during his time in Dallas.
The Patriots also saw a young potential star leave for the west coast via trade when they sent QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 in exchange for a second-round draft pick. A 26-year-old at the time of the trade, Garoppolo has since led San Francisco to a Super Bowl LIV appearance in his first full season as a starter.
The six-time Super Bowl champions have made a habit of trading fan favorites out of town, including the likes of Richard Seymour in 2009 and Randy Moss in 2010.
The Boston Celtics have made a number of trades since Danny Ainge took over as president of basketball operations in 2003. And while he has sent the likes of Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo packing, Ainge’s most notable and heart-wrenching trade - at least for fans - came in the summer of 2013.
Boston traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, among others, to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for a bevy of draft picks that eventually turned into Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and more. And while Pierce and Garnett were both in their mid-30s at the time of the deal, both were beloved pillars of the team and had helped bring the Celtics their first title in 22 seasons back in 2008.
So how do we determine which trade fans enjoyed the least? What about trades that weren’t mentioned? The answer: Twitter.
Now, the numbers are a little misleading as more than double the number of people voted in the first poll than the second (Twitter only allows four poll options so it had to be broken up into two). So let’s break these numbers down.
In total, 310 people voted for one of the options in the two polls (though technically there would be no stopping someone from voting in both, but with Twitter polls being an inexact science let’s count each vote as one individual).
It’s also important to note that Twitter rounds percentages to whole numbers in its poll results, making it more difficult to get the exact voting breakdown mathematically. The numbers that we calculated have been rounded to the nearest whole number (ex. Jimmy G got 24% of 90 votes, which winds up being 21.6 votes. As that’s impossible, we’ll round up to say that Jimmy G got 22 votes.)
Here’s the full voting breakdown:
- Mookie Betts - 103 votes (33.2%)
- Tyler Seguin - 46 votes (14.8%)
- Nomar Garciaparra - 44 votes (14.2%)
- Jon Lester - 39 votes (12.6%)
- Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - 26 votes (8.4%)
- Joe Thornton - 26 votes (8.4%)
- Jimmy G - 22 votes (7.1%)
- Other - 4 votes (1.3%)
Now, full disclosure, there are likely a number of reasons why the numbers turned out as they did, including recency bias, only seeing the first of the two polls, etc. However, Betts ranking at the top of that list should still not surprise anyone reading this.
In trading Betts, the Red Sox are moving on from a perennial MVP candidate who is just 27 years old and is a season removed from being the leading man on a World Series-winning team.
And while the second version of the deal brings back three prospects from LA, Betts is a sure-fire star and arguably the second-best player in Major League Baseball.
There were no off-field issues, as there were rumored to be with Seguin, there wasn’t anyone in front of him at his position, as there was with Jimmy G, and the Red Sox were not circling the drain as a last-place team like they were when Lester was dealt.
But what about some trades that weren’t mentioned?
Ray Bourque was traded in March 2000 at age 39 to the Colorado Avalanche after 21 years with the Bruins. And while that trade did not anger fans nearly as much as Betts’ did, the sadness of sending off a Boston icon would likely rank near the top of painful trades this century.
In 2008, the Red Sox shipped Manny Ramirez out west in a three-team deal that brought back Jason Bay of Pittsburgh.
Four years later in August 2012, Boston again sent stars packing for Hollywood when they flipped Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers in exchange for five prospects.
While Ramirez was beloved in Boston during his time with the Red Sox, his trade in 2008 came when he was 36 years old and preceded the final three years of his career, where he played more than 100 games just once.
The monstrous 2012 trade sent packing two guys in Crawford and Beckett that had fallen out of favor with Boston and one, Gonzalez, who is most remembered for saying the Red Sox lost out on the playoffs on the final day of the 2011 season because of divine predestination.
So what do you think? Where does the Betts trade rank against other Boston stars? Is there anyone we’re forgetting?
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