Imagine both Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich in the same outfield. The Brewers almost made that happen.
Sometimes it’s fun to look at hypotheticals and ‘what if’s’ from baseball seasons past. Sometimes it’s painful to see how close your team was to completely changing the direction of the franchise. That’s a situation the Brewers have with superstar Mookie Betts.
According to a story on MLB’s website, the Brewers under GM Doug Melvin were the first team to ask the Red Sox about acquiring Mookie Betts, and it almost happened.
Brewers Almost Acquired Mookie Betts
Back in 2013, the Brewers were looking to trade the ever-present Francisco Rodriguez at the July Trade Deadline. The Red Sox were looking to shore up their bullpen en route to their eventual World Series victory that year and were interested in K-Rod.
In return for K-Rod, Doug Melvin asked for Mookie Betts, then in A-ball, in return.
Betts wasn’t a super highly rated prospect until after that 2013 season. But Melvin saw the future potential of Betts and was hoping to buy low on him while he was still under the radar. Alas, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington thought about it but ended up not going for it. Cherington said Melvin and the Brewers were the first to ask him about Betts.
When Cherington eventually told him no, Melvin had to pivot to the Orioles, an AL East rival of the Red Sox, and send K-Rod to Baltimore for prospect Nicky Delmonico. Delmonico ended up getting released by the Brewers before he ever reached the majors before latching on with the White Sox for a couple years.
The Brewers were relatively close to getting Mookie Betts in return for K-Rod that year, and ended up with a prospect that never played a game in Milwaukee. Talk about two different ends of the spectrum!
Over the years, the Brewers have had several ‘what if’ scenarios that would’ve completely changed this organization, and this Betts story is just the latest. What if the Mets never backed out of the Carlos Gomez trade? What if Jonathan Lucroy accepted his initial trade to Cleveland? What if Mike Trout fell one more spot in the Draft in 2009?
Let’s just imagine for a second if the Brewers were able to get Mookie Betts in 2013. Does a rebuild ever happen in 2015? Does Christian Yelich still end up getting traded here? A Yelich-Betts-Braun outfield would be insane. Both Yelich and Betts won the MVP awards in 2018. With those two together, everything else being the same, the Brewers quite likely would’ve found themselves in the World Series that year.
It makes you wish that Melvin had tried to throw in another player along with K-Rod to convince the Red Sox to give up Betts. But playing Armchair GM isn’t going to help.
It’s a cool story about Betts and how the Brewers were the first team to call on him. Doug Melvin gets a bad rap sometimes from Brewers fans, but he had a strong eye for talent and did a much better job than he gets credit for. A Rodriguez-Betts trade would’ve cemented Melvin as a legend among GMs and his legacy would’ve been more easily settled among Brewers fans.
That kind of trade would’ve been a career-maker, just like the Yelich trade has been a career-maker for current GM David Stearns. It’s a shame for Melvin and Brewers fans that this Betts deal never worked out, but it’s fun to think about what could’ve been.
Of course, if the Brewers did get Betts, would they have been able to pay him the money the Dodgers did? They might’ve had to trade him away before free agency just like Boston did, but it still would’ve been a fun ride.