Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning in Game 1 of the World Series last season. Eric Gay/Associated Press

We’ll never dance again like we did in 2018. The three guys who taught us all the best cheesy moves — Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Mookie Betts — are all gone.

Remember when this was going to be the best outfield in baseball for a long time? Sure you do. It wasn’t that long ago. Now they are scattered across the league. Betts is in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers have no qualms about paying one of the best players in the game what one of the best players in the game makes. Benintendi was traded to Kansas City, where he’ll get the opportunity to rediscover the swing that drew favorable comparisons to Fred Lynn. This week, Bradley signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he’ll thrill fans with his spectacular defense and drive them mad with his inconsistencies at the plate.

Lamenting the complete evaporation of this outfield is an exercise in nostalgia. One can make a case for the departure of each player. It’s easy to make the case that Alex Verdugo, the biggest piece to come from the Dodgers for Betts, is better than both Bradley and Benintendi.

For now, though, let’s submerge ourselves in nostalgia. Let’s wallow in the stuff.

Former Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi was traded to the Kansas City Royals. AP

In 2018, the Benintendi-Bradley-Betts trio combined to score 308 runs. Yes, Bradley was either completely locked in or hopelessly locked out at the plate for weeks at a time. There was no middle ground with his bat. Every time you moaned about another JBJ groundout or strikeout, he’d make a catch diving into the deep center field triangle at Fenway Park and you’d forget the struggles in the batter’s box. Then JBJ would find his swing and for a few weeks he’d become one of the toughest outs in the game. Like he did in the 2018 American League Championship Series, earning MVP honors after hitting clutch home runs.

Last season, JBJ hit .283, and his on-base percentage was .364, both career highs. Was that a glimpse of a player who figured some things out with the bat, or a streaky hitter who happened to enjoy a hot run during a 60-game sprint of a season? Milwaukee gets to find out.

You might want to count 2020 against Benintendi, but don’t. Yes, he was a disaster in just 14 games, hitting .103 with one run batted in, but he was hurt. That said, signs of regression were seen in 2019, when Benny slipped significantly in every important offensive category except doubles. Benintendi is young and has time to turn that slide into a hiccup. A change of scene may be what his career needs. The player Kansas City sent back, Franchy Cordero, finally joined the team for workouts Friday after starting spring training on the COVID-19 injured list.

Jackie Bradley Jr. played impressive defense in center field for the Boston Red Sox, but he was a streaky offensive player. Bradley signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a free agent. Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

More than a year after trading Betts, it’s still galling that a team with financial resources of the Red Sox wouldn’t even consider a long-term deal at market price. Home grown superstars like Betts do not come along often. When you get one, try a little harder to keep them. You’re one of the richest teams in baseball. Don’t gaslight fans by crying financial flexibility, especially when you continue to have one of the highest ticket prices in the game in a ballpark that was old 40 years ago.

Ballplayers come and go. That’s the circle of baseball life. Benintendi, Bradley and Betts were not going to be in Boston forever. We thought they’d be here longer, though, and as good as they were together in 2018, we’ll always wonder if they would’ve gotten better.

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