Late Friday afternoon, in what many say appears to be the biggest trade to ever take place after the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett, and infielder Nick Punto from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for first baseman James Loney, first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands, infielder Ivan de Jesus Jr., and pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
Trading Places: The Dodgers and Red Sox Swap
Saturday August 25th, 2012
While the Dodgers are set to absorb much of the hefty remaining salaries of Beckett, Gonzalez, and Crawford, the Red Sox also included approximately $12 million in cash (per USA Today). News of the deal broke in Los Angeles in the mid-afternoon, and details continued to trickle in throughout the day. The trade was initially reported via Twitter by Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, according to MLBTradeRumors.com. Details on subsequent information and reporting can be found here.
This move, along with the acquisitions of shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Shane Victorino, and others, signals that the Los Angeles Dodgers and their new ownership group (headed by former basketball star Magic Johnson) are not only committed to contending for a title this season but are also willing to put up a massive player payroll for upcoming seasons.
Meanwhile, this swap is just the latest and biggest sign that the Red Sox, who now have a 60-66 record in 2012, are giving up any hope of competing this year and plan on retaining just a small core of their key players moving forward. They've made moves to free up a great deal of salary and will most likely rebuild their team via the farm system and the pursuit of several free agents in the off-season.
As for the players, the centerpiece of this deal is thirty year-old first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a career .294/.372/.509 (average/on-base/slugging) hitter and four-time All Star. Gonzalez, a Mexican-American who resides in the San Diego area, will not only provide the Dodgers with offensive punch (he averaged 31 home runs and 103 RBI per year from 2006 to 2011), but he will also fill the first base spot that they've struggled to find solid production from in the past few years. His ethnicity and southern California background should make him an ideal fit for the Dodgers and their fanbase. Gonzalez was hitting .300 with 15 home runs, 86 RBI, and an .812 OPS (on-base plus slugging) at the time of the trade and is under contract until 2018.
Righthanded pitcher Josh Beckett, who was instrumental in leading both the 2003 Florida Marlins and the 2007 Boston Red Sox to World Series titles, will likely join the Dodgers starting staff and could be a contributor at the bottom of the rotation. Beckett has been a disappointment in 2012, particularly when compared to his excellent 2011 season (a 13-7 record with a 2.89 ERA). This year, the 32 year-old has stumbled to a 5-11 mark with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts for Boston. He is under contract until 2014, and the Dodgers are no doubt hoping that he can rebound from this rough season, as he has done it in the past after bad campaigns.
Outfielder Carl Crawford's struggles in Boston have been widely publicized, and the high-priced speedster will be inactive for ten months or more while recovering from the Tommy John surgery he had on his left elbow on August 23, 2012. It's questionable whether the 31 year-old will regain the skills that made him a four-time All Star and four-time stolen base champ, but either way the Dodgers will have to deal with his hefty contract through the 2017 season.
Veteran infielder Nick Punto will provide the Dodgers with some depth at all the infield spots, though the 34 year-old career .247 hitter won't supply much in the way of offensive output. Still, he could be a valuable bench asset for Los Angeles until his contract expires in 2013, particularly with the season-ending injury to Dodgers utility player Jerry Hairston Jr.
In return for their four big leaguers, the Boston Red Sox received five players who compose a mix of major league players and prospects.
First baseman James Loney lacks home run power and has seen his batting average dwindle greatly since he hit .331 in 96 games back in 2007. He was hitting just .254 with 4 home runs in 334 at-bats at the time of the trade and will be a free agent at the end of this season.
First baseman and outfielder Jerry Sands was once a promising hitter for the Dodgers and ranked as their sixth-best prospect prior to the 2011 season (per Baseball America) but has mostly disappointed in chances at the big league level. The 24 year-old has hit pretty well in the minor leagues and could still develop into a fair MLB player, but his potential is somewhat limited.
Infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr. ranked as the Dodgers' 14th-best prospect (per Baseball America) prior to the 2011 season and the 25 year-old has played second base, third base, shortstop, and even some outfield in his career. He lacks any significant home run power or stolen base speed, but De Jesus Jr. could lock in as a big league utility man or more at some point.
The pitching prospects appear to be the biggest return for the Red Sox, and that all starts with 23 year-old righthander Rubby De La Rosa. De La Rosa was the Dodgers' third-best prospect prior to the 2011 season (per Baseball America) and was known for his impressive pitch speed, which sometimes topped 100 miles per hour. He fared well at times in 60 2/3 big league innings in 2011 but succumbed to injury and required Tommy John surgery in early August of last year. He returned to the mound just last week and was still reaching the upper 90s on his pitches, so the Red Sox certainly felt comfortable in acquiring him in this deal. His prospect ceiling is quite high, and with continued development De La Rosa could become a rotation ace.
The final prospect heading to the Boston Red Sox is righthander Allen Webster, who Baseball America ranked as the Dodgers second-best prospect prior to 2012. The 22 year-old Webster is a converted shortstop and has greatly impressed at times, though his overall minor league numbers aren't particularly excellent. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and has some natural sink, but his curveball and changeup are still developing. In time, he could be a mid-rotation starting pitcher (or better), but it appears that he'll still need some minor league time to reach that potential.
From a fantasy standpoint, this trade somewhat boosts the value Adrian Gonzalez (whose all-fields power didn't play particularly well at Fenway Park) and Josh Beckett, but there is little to note otherwise. The other big leaguers involved in the deal do not contribute much fantasy-wise, and the prospects heading to Boston will not make any real impact until next season.
Overall, this surprising trade will cost a lot of salary but could help spring the Dodgers into years of relevance and contention for a World Series title. For Boston, it signals a bold move to regroup and rebuild the roster for the upcoming years.
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