What are the Red Sox doing?

It’s the million-dollar question, not just in New England but in every baseball city around the country as we’re now left to wonder if the Sox themselves have any conviction in their decisions.

The Mookie Betts trade saga began Tuesday, when it was first reported that the Red Sox had agreed to a deal that would send him to the Dodgers along with David Price for young outfielder Alex Verdugo and Twins right-hander Brusdar Graterol.

By Saturday, Betts and Price were still on the Red Sox roster, wondering where they’re supposed to report when camp opens this week: Phoenix or Fort Myers?

The news was mixed as to what exactly was going on, with Minnesota’s Star Tribune first reporting that the Twins pulled out of the deal because the Red Sox felt uncomfortable about Graterol’s medical report and asked for an additional prospect. Reports from various media outlets confirmed the Twins’ decision. Then other reports contradicted it.

This mess is becoming more confusing by the hour.

Here’s the most striking part of the whole ordeal: The Red Sox don’t seem to know what they want.

There’s growing speculation around the industry that they aren’t backing out of the deal because they suddenly feel different about Graterol’s medical information, but for other reasons.

Some think it’s because the Red Sox didn’t like the public reaction when the deal was first announced Tuesday.

What on earth did they think was going to happen when they traded the franchise’s first MVP since Dustin Pedroia?

Of course that’s not an easy pill for fans to swallow. Even if it was the right move – Betts won’t be worth the contract he’ll sign next winter and the Red Sox aren’t good enough to contend in 2020 –  it takes people time to sit with the difficult reality of watching their favorite player slip off his Red Sox uniform and start wearing Dodger blue.

But it wasn’t just the fans who seemed undeniably and rightfully upset. Many of the industry reactions on Wednesday were negative, with a general sense the Red Sox didn’t get a great return.

Baseball’s premier reporter, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, said Saturday the Red Sox were feeling pressure from ownership who aren’t happy with the public reaction to the Betts trade. Now it might fall apart.

This is the kind of public relations circus that has followed this team for the better part of a decade.

Graterol’s agent, Scott Boras, hinted at it when he told the Boston Globe, “it gets out as to the reason why a trade has a hiccup. There could be a variety of reasons. All I’m saying to this is that the reason is not Brusdar’s health.”

At the Boston Herald, we were told by a high-ranking National League executive that the Red Sox did “pretty well,” but were understandably given lesser prospect talent due to the excessive salaries the Sox were shedding.

Yes, it was a salary dump. It was also a smart baseball move.

Verdugo and Graterol, while coming with their own risks and baggage, have All-Star potential. They’re under team control for five and six years, respectively. The Red Sox could reset their luxury tax and go all-in next offseason to put together the next championship team for 2021 and beyond.

We’ve made those points over and over.

But many understandably disagreed.

And now it appears the Red Sox are so flabbergasted by the disagreement that they’re trying to back out of a deal they felt good about just five days earlier.

Imagine for a moment that Betts and Price, supposedly on the move, return to camp on Wednesday and start preparing to play for a team that tried to trade them.

Then the Red Sox go over the luxury tax threshold again and face 2021 without financial flexibility, without resetting the tax system and with big penalties in store if they choose to shell out any large contracts and try to win in 2021.

All while the farm system remains quite barren.

It doesn’t sound like a winning recipe.

If the Red Sox end up with a better prospect than Graterol from the Dodgers, good for them. But it remains silly to think they suddenly realized Graterol doesn’t look like a starter and now want more in return.

It’s hard to blame the Twins for backing out. The Dodgers, though, still want to get this done. Of course they do. They’re dealing with a Red Sox team that has no direction.

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