This past weekend, a trade of Herschel Walker proportions took place in major league baseball. In one fell swoop, the Boston Red Sox unloaded their excess baggage, and the Los Angeles Dodgers picked it up at the baggage claim, showing baseball that they are serious about buying a World Series…I mean, trying to make the playoffs. So I thought I would take a look at this monumental trade and just what it means for the parties involved.
Adrian Gonzalez is the key to this trade for the Dodgers. They have coveted him for quite awhile, and finally they were able to bring him back to the California sun and drop him into the middle of their batting order. The pluses of having Gonzalez are many and widespread. For one, he is a California boy, born and raised. Bringing him back to Cali can only be a positive, as he loved his time in San Diego and the attitude there fits him better than the one in Boston. In Boston, the media is constantly scrutinizing everything that is done and everyone lives and die by what the Red Sox are doing. California is more laid back, with the joke always being that Dodgers fans wait until the third inning before they show up. Gonzalez’s attitude is more LA than Boston, so just in this regard it should be a plus. Add in stellar defense, and a potent bat in the middle of the order, and you have a guy who can help a team like the Dodgers go the distance. There really only seems two negatives to getting Gonzalez. One, a few scouts have mentioned that Gonzo’s bat speed seems to be slipping. Now, he is still a guy I would want in the middle of the batting order. But normally if bat speed starts to slip, it will never come back. The other negative is the contract he has. It is massive, and still has 5 years left on it. If he continues to slip offensively, those last few years of the contract could feel like an albatross around their neck. All in all, if Gonzalez is what they wanted, they could have done a hell of a lot worse.
Josh Beckett might just seem like an addition to the trade, a contract to heave off for Boston. But in reality, it might be a shroud move by LA. Beckett was never going to get the Boston faithful back in his good graces, as he is now perceived by them as a guy who just wants to pitch every fifth day and not care about the team the rest of the time. Chicken, beer, and video games will do that to a guy. But I also feel Beckett is the type who could be angry about the move, and proceed to pitch like a guy with a chip on his shoulder. Add in his postseason experience, and this could be a coup for LA if they make the playoffs. Beckett still has it in him to be a pitcher who can carry a team on his back in the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened.
When it comes to players who this trade benefits the most, Carl Crawford has my pick for ‘best in trade'( by the way, I see him as a labradoodle). Crawford, when healthy, is a game changer, as his speed disrupts pitchers and defenses alike. He also is a solid bat in the lineup, despite what his time in Boston has shown. If ever there was a guy who needed a change of scenario, it would be Crawford. He felt uncomfortable from the time he entered Yawkey Way, and add in a struggling bat and injuries, and you have a recipe for disaster. Even if he would have stayed, Crawford would have had a hard time showing the Boston fans what he can really do. Crawford just had the Tommy John surgery, so he won’t be back till early next season. But once he does come back, he will be part of a loaded outfield in LA. How does this sound: Left Field, Crawford. Center Field, Matt Kemp. Right Field, Andre Ethier. If healthy, very few balls would drop in that outfield, and offensively they could be a juggernaut. Crawford gets a new lease on life with this trade, and I can only imagine he will like the view at Chavez Ravine.
Nick Punto. Well, I like him as a backup infielder. But lets be honest, he’s just along for the ride. He will always be referred to as ‘the other guy in that big trade’. I guess that is better than nothing. He is a good replacement for Jerry Hairston while he is out. But Punto is what Punto is; an afterthought. Have fun in Los Angeles, Nick!
Now, time to look at the Boston side of this trade. James Loney has been with the Dodgers the last seven years as their First Baseman. Loney is a good, solid hitter with a great glove, but has never shown the power that most teams want from their first basemen. He is a free agent at the end of the year, so there is a good chance his time in Boston will be short. Still, not a horrible job by Boston on replacing Gonzalez, at least for the rest of the year.
The major part of the trade for Boston was to give them flexibility. Having Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford on their payroll, (along with Ortiz, etc.) would have made it hard for the Red Sox to rebuild this upcoming offseason, which they drastically need to do. Boston was able to unload $260 Million in contracts, while giving Los Angeles about $12 Million. Not only does this give the Red Sox room to operate this offseason, it also gets rid of three players that the BoSox fans were tired of. It only made sense to restructure and dump what they could, and Boston did that, along with picking up some prospects as well.
The other four players in the trade are either major league ready or very close. Rubby De La Rosa is the gem of the trade, but won’t be ‘officially’ announce until after the season. He is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but was just up in the bigs for the Dodgers and has electric stuff. Jerry Sands is the other ‘player to be named later’ in the deal, and once he is officially acquired he’ll add some depth to their outfield corps and could even compete for a starting job in spring training next year. Ivan DeJesus, Jr. is an infielder that probably won’t start in Boston, but it does give them more depth and has been up and down between AAA and the majors part of the season. Allen Webster is the last player involved and had a less than stellar start the other day for Boston’s AA team, but he still could be in the pitching discussion for next year in Boston. Overall, not a bad haul of players for Boston in this trade.
This trade is a once in a lifetime trade, and one of the likes we won’t see for a very long time. At the end of the day, this trade did what both teams wanted it to do. For the Dodgers, they get veteran players to help their push for a World Series and to help them win now and for years to come. Boston, meanwhile, needed payroll flexibility and to rid them of players that didn’t fit into the Beantown atmosphere. Payroll was shed and younger, cheaper talent was added. This was a win-win trade for these two teams, and a trade that will be scrutinized for years to come. Time will tell just who gained the most from this monster of a deal. Until then, fire up your gaming system and see if you can do what the Dodgers and Red Sox did; make a trade that my ten year old tries to make with his video games.