TAMPA — Aaron Boone’s team hasn’t even reported for spring training, but the third-year manager already has seen the Yankees’ chances of winning the AL East set to improve dramatically.
With Mookie Betts and David Price on the verge of being traded to the Dodgers in a blockbuster move that figures to cement Los Angeles as the favorites in the National League and the Yankees as the clear front-runners in the AL, Boone said Thursday he won’t be sorry to see Betts go.
“Obviously, he’s about as good as it gets,’’ Boone said. “I won’t miss facing him 18 times a year, that’s for sure.’’
In what would amount to a salary dump for the Red Sox, they would ship perhaps the second-best player in the league — behind Anaheim’s Mike Trout — for prospects.
Boston is also awaiting a ruling from MLB regarding the ongoing investigation into sign-stealing that has already resulted in the firing of manager Alex Cora, who was also involved in the Astros’ scandal in 2017.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday he hoped to have a decision regarding punishment made by the time camps open next week.
No matter what Manfred comes up with, the Red Sox enter 2020 in disarray, without a manager and, once the trade with the Dodgers becomes official, they’ll be without their best player, as well as the lefty Price.
Despite the advantages Betts’ departure gives the Yankees, Boone insisted he wouldn’t take anything for granted when it comes to the division.
While the Yankees famously have tormented Price over the years, they have also handled Betts fairly well. Betts has faced the Yankees in 96 games and has an OPS of .825. It’s the lowest OPS Betts has against anyone in the AL East. Last year, Betts managed just a .700 OPS in 19 games versus the Yankees — his worst number against any team he played more than six times.
“I’m not entirely upset to see him in the other league,’’ Boone said with a grin. “But I’ve always said, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Who knows? It’s such a long way away, such a long season.’’
He’s not ready to write off the Yankees’ archrivals just yet.
“They’re a smart [organization] with a lot of wherewithal,’’ Boone said at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “I’m sure they’re doing what they think is best to get them on solid footing.”
In the meantime, Boone’s focus remains on his own team.
“Our job is to get ready to go win a championship,’’ Boone said. “We don’t feel like anyone should be able to get in our way. But the guys [the Red Sox have] to step in are amazing players. … I never discount anyone heading into the year.’