Dating back to before last month’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers were reportedly interested in acquiring Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. A deal never happened, but on Friday the Los Angeles Times wrote that the Dodgers were awarded the claim on Gonzalez, who was placed on revocable trade waivers earlier this week.
The Dodgers were awarded a waiver claim on Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee, but the Phillies pulled him back and kept him. Chances are, the Red Sox will do the same with the 30-year-old Gonzalez, who has a .300 average with 15 home runs and 86 RBI this season.
If the Dodgers did indeed win the waiver claim, the Red Sox have three choices:
- They can let the Dodgers take Gonzalez and the remaining five-plus years on the seven-year, $154 million contract he signed before the 2011 season after the Red Sox acquired him for a package of top prospects featuring current Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-hander Casey Kelly. This is unlikely to happen because, if the Red Sox decide to part with Gonzalez, they will require a bounty of top prospects and/or current Major Leaguers on the Dodgers’ roster.
- They can work out a trade with the Dodgers in the next two days. Los Angeles has a farm system rich with coveted starting pitching prospects, including Zach Lee, Allen Webster and Chris Reed. The 20-year-old Lee is ranked as the No. 38 prospect in baseball by MLB.com while the 22-year-old Webster is currently at No. 65. Both are right-handers who are in the Double-A Chattanooga rotation. The 22-year-old Reed, a lefty, is also highly regarded, but he is on the 7-day disabled list. The Red Sox would likely ask for two of these prospects, plus a current Major League like 28-year-old right-hander Chad Billingsley and maybe James Loney, the first baseman who Gonzalez would replace.
- The Red Sox can also pull Gonzalez off waivers and keep him, which is the mostly probable scenario. Though Gonzalez is not hitting for power this season, he is still one of the top offensive players in the American League, and he is one of the best defensive first basemen in the majors.
In the midst of a disappointing 59-66 season that has been maligned by dysfunction off the field, the Red Sox have an array of bad contracts, including Carl Crawford‘s seven-year, $142 million deal and the two years that remain beyond this season the contracts of Josh Beckett and John Lackey. Ridding Gonzalez’s money would allow the Red Sox to more easily eat a bulk of the salaries that remain for Beckett and Lackey if they choose to cut ties with the pitchers. A trade would also give Boston near Major League ready starting pitching prospects.
One media report earlier this week speculated that the Dodgers could also accepting the contracts of Crawford and Beckett to entice Boston to part with Gonzalez. While it seems improbable that will happen, the idea of Los Angeles taking on Crawford (who is out until next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery) or Beckett along with Gonzalez seems feasible.
Of course, the awarded claim might end up as a “much ado about nothing” similar to the situation with Lee.