One of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent baseball history is designed to dramatically help both teams.
As Baseball News Source reported earlier, the Red Sox and Dodgers have completed a nine-player deal that will ship Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles for James Loney and minor league prospects Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus.
For Boston, the transaction offers significant salary relief and rids the team of players whose performances did not match their contracts. For the Dodgers, Gonzalez bolsters a lineup that added Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino before last month’s non-waiver trade deadline.
Multiple media reports indicate that the Red Sox will be responsible for paying no more than $12 million of the $272 million left on the contracts of Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford and Punto.
The Red Sox should not have a problem replacing the production of Gonzalez, who has a .300 average with 15 home runs, 86 RBI and a .812 OPS this season after batting .338 with 27 home runs, 117 RBI and a .957 OPS in 2011.
The 30-year-old Gonzalez has seen his power slip this year, perhaps the result of shoulder issues that have bothered him in recent years. He will receive $21 million a season through 2016 and then will get $21.5 million in 2017 and 2018.
The 32-year-old Beckett, who is under contract for $15.75 a year through 2014, has been a lightning rod for controversy since his struggles last September contributed to Boston’s monumental collapse. He is in the midst of the worst season in his 12-year Major League career with a 5-11 record, a 5.23 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP and a .266 batting average against.
Over his last 10 starts, he is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA, and he is 1-4 with a 7.11 ERA since the All-Star break. In August, Beckett has a 0-2 record and a 9.92 ERA in three starts, including an opponent’s batting average of .304. This follows a 1-2 record and a 6.08 ERA in July when opposing hitters had a .311 average against him.
The Dodgers hope that a change of scenery recharges him, and that his presence bolsters a rotation that includes ace Clayton Kershaw along with Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Joe Blanton. Billingsley left Friday night’s start early and an MRI revealed right elbow inflammation, so Beckett’s acquistion offers depth in the event Billingsley misses a start or lands on the disabled list.
Crawford, who recently underwent Tommy John surgery and is not expected to return to Major League action until anywhere from next May to July, will be paid $20 million in 2013, $20.25 million in 2014, $20.5 million in 2015, $20.75 million in 2016 and $21 million in 2017.
The 34-year-old Punto, who is under contract for $1.5 million this year and in 2013, provides utility player insurance for the Dodgers, which lost Jerry Hairston Jr. for the season when he suffered a hip injury. Punto is versatile and can play every infield position, but he is hitting .200 in 148 plate appearances this season.
Impact for the Dodgers
The Dodgers – which are 68-58, three games behind San Francisco in the National League West and 1.5 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card spot – can now author a lineup that features Victorino, Ramirez, Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
The club’s new ownership group is showing it is not hesitate to spend money. Including this blockbuster deal with the recent acquisitions of Ramirez, Victorino and Blanton as well as relievers Randy Choate and Brandon League, the Dodgers have taken on more than $300 million in future payroll obligations.
According to Jeff Euston of Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Los Angeles is responsible for $193.75 million in contracts for 2013. The Red Sox, Euston reported, have just $45.6 million in contract commitments for next season.
While the Dodgers are focused on winning the World Series this season, the Red Sox hope to retool and rebuild a World Series contender for 2013 and beyond. With the departure of Beckett and Gonzalez, Boston’s lone bad contract belongs of John Lackey, who is owed $15.25 through 2014. The 33-year-old right-hander is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery this year and is expected to be fully recovered when spring training arrives in 2013.
Impact for the Red Sox
For the Red Sox, the trade gives the club financial flexibility and an opportunity to craft a new roster. When the season ends, they will also be without the contracts of Kevin Youkilis (who was traded to the White Sox earlier this season and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Those deals represent more than $22 million in annual salaries.
The key prospect in the trade is the 23-year-old Webster. He features mid-90s sinker, induces a lot of ground balls and also has a curve ball and change-up, both of which are plus offerings. MLB.com ranks him at No. 65 on its Top 100 prospects list. Webster is 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP in 22 starts at Double-A Chattanooga. An 18th round draft pick out of high school in 2008, Webster entered the season at No. 95 on Baseball America’s 2012 Pre-Season Top 100 List.
Loney is the lone Major League veteran Boston is acquiring in the trade. The 28-year-old left-handed hitting first baseman is a free agent this off-season, and chances are his tenure with the Red Sox will be short-lived. He has a .284 career average and a .764 career OPS, but this season he is batting .254 with four home runs, 33 RBI and a .646 OPS in 359 plate appearances.
De La Rosa is the perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the trade, though he will have to be the player to named later since he did not pass through waivers. He was claimed by Toronto and pulled back, so the Dodgers cannot trade him until the off-season.
The 23-year-old Dominican Republic native, who has recently returned after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, has hit 99 on the radar gun and is 11-9 with a 2.75 ERA and 237 strikeouts in his minor league career. He was recently promoted to the Dodgers, where he was pitching out of the bullpen. De La Rosa was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 13 games and 10 starts for the Dodgers last season.
The 24-year-old Sands is a slugging left fielder who can also play first base. He is hitting .303 with 24 home runs, 101 RBI and a .911 OPS at Triple-A Albuquerque. Sands batted .253 with four home runs and 26 RBI in 227 plate appearances last year for the Dodgers in his Major League debut. He belted 29 home runs and knocked in 98 at Albuquerque in 2011.