There are another few weeks still before the offseason is upon us in earnest, and with it, the trade chatter that fills the Hot Stove League.
But you can be reasonably certain that somewhere in the Fenway Park offices, there is someone tasked with coming up with a list of teams who might be a logical trading partner with the Sox for Mookie Betts -- should it get to that point.
Publicly at least, the Red Sox continue to say that their first priority remains getting a contract extension done with Betts, making clear that they see him as a franchise-type player whom they wish to finish his career in a Sox uniform. And undoubtedly, there will be continued dialogue with Betts and his representatives. (Chairman Tom Werner revealed last month that he and Sam Kennedy had talked extensively with the group in the final month of the season).
But that doesn't change the fact that Betts has indicated, while he doesn't preclude remaining in Boston, that he intends to go to free agency and see what the market has to offer.
That represents a big risk for the Red Sox, who could lose Betts to another team with a draft pick as their only consolation.
And should the Sox listen on Betts, it's likely the offers they get in return will be far less than what some fans are expecting. Under no circumstances will the Sox get the kind of franchise-altering return for Betts.
As talented as he is -- and there can be no debate that he qualifies as one of the handful of best overall players in the game -- his trade value is greatly limited by the fact that he has but one year of control left. Moreover, that one year is likely to cost a team, at minimum $27 million.
Those two factors alone thin out the pool of potential landing spots for Betts. Any interested team must be good enough to believe that a player the caliber of Betts could be the difference-maker, and be willing to pay him the $27 million. (Based on last year's salaries, a $27.7 million salary -- the exact amount estimated by MLBTradeRumors.com's reliable arbitration-predictor -- Betts would be about the 11th highest-paid player in the game at that amount).
Of course, we're eliminating some teams from this exercise. For instance, the Red Sox aren't about to trade Betts to the Yankees, even if it's only for a season.
1. Atlanta Braves: This is logical enough, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. A number of people believe that Atlanta is