The Boston Red Sox and Las Angeles Dodgers made history on Friday night when the Red Sox sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for James Loney and four minor leaguers. It’s the most money to go another way in big league history.
For almost the past century, the Red Sox and Dodgers have defined near misses and almost glory. Sure, the Dodgers have won a few World Series titles since they moved to LA. Boston has won a couple since breaking whatever curse that held them down. The Dodgers are just coming out of financial hell while the Red Sox appear to be moving into it.
It is this backdrop that makes the nine player swap that much more intriguing. For the Dodgers, it is simply the winter of 2012-2013 a few months sooner. They pick up Gonzalez (who should them now), Beckett (who might help them now), and Crawford (who might help in 2013). The financial total comes to 272 million dollars going the Dodgers way.
The Red Sox certainly like Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, but the savings is much more important. The Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett contracts looked particularly bad because neither performed. Yet, it was the Adrian Gonzalez contract that was particularly bad. He’s doing fine mind you, but 20 million is too much for a first baseman. The Reds, Tigers, and Angels would agree if you caught them in a honest moment.
Earlier this week, I profiled the Sox top prospects by position. That may not have changed, but the overall depth just did. Pitching depth is more important than any these days. More importantly, they went from cash strapped to having 40 to 50 million to spend this winter in an effort to retool.
The Dodgers are seizing the opportunity to get their shopping done now. Crawford may be ready for Spring Training following recent Tommy John surgery. That’s okay, Shane Victorino is playing left field until the end of the season. Beckett may or may not be added to the rotation, but pitchers like Joe Blanton and Aaron Harang are would be free agents. Punto is an excellent utility guy, but the Dodgers have no shortage of those.
The real reason for this deal from their perspective was to get Adrian Gonzalez now. They acquired Hanley Ramirez earlier, but he is not an elite run producer. They paid Andre Ethier a lot of money, but he isn’t an elite run producer either. Victorino is a good table setter, but not a run producer. They’ve made no bones about the fact that they craved someone on Matt Kemp’s level. Enter Adrian Gonzalez.
The Sox would love to jettison John Lackey, but this deal was about as complete a house cleaning as possible. The Blue Jays did the improbable a few years back when they were able to shed both Alex Rios and Vernon Wells. They still have not found a star to take the money they saved. Who knows if Boston can entice the next big star.
All told, no one comes close to the Dodgers in terms of the depth and wealth of talent added. There are no guarantees. A lot of the players they got, they got because they were underachieving elsewhere. A change of scenery can often change fortunes. It also can just move the stench from here to there. Time will always tell on these things, but right now it looks like both teams get what they want.