If landing Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino convinced you of nothing, this nine-player extravaganza should let you know that the Los Angeles Dodgers intend to compete at all costs. The Dodgers have reportedly picked up first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, and infielder Nick Punto from the Red Sox. In return, the Sox will get first baseman James Loney, pitching prospect Rubby De La Rosa, pitching prospect Allen Webster, infielder Ivan De Jesus, and outfielder Jerry Sands. At this point, the new ownership group has pretty much revitalized the entire roster (this seriously isn’t even the same team) and changed the payroll landscape for a very long time. The Dodgers will be taking on all but $12 million of the total obligations owed to these players, which in this case is north of $260 million.
This trade looks better in terms of the names involved than it really is. Adrian Gonzalez is still a terrific hitter, but he’s seen his power dissipate (though he has hit with more authority lately: .323/.379/.581 over the last month) and he no longer has the patience that once made him elite. Carl Crawford is north of 30 and will miss a year due to Tommy John surgery, and Josh Beckett is always a complete wild card. While he will surely enjoy the effects of playing in the much-weaker NL West and calling Dodger Stadium home, he isn’t an ace anymore and should not be mistaken as such. As for Nick Punto, well, he’s a utility infielder that is a better option than the other utility infielders already in L.A.
The Dodgers have taken on three star players who are all aging and have their best seasons behind them. These guys all still have the ability to produce, but none of them are in their prime and all of them are peaking in terms of the salaries they are set to receive. Los Angeles has also finished distancing itself from any and all young players with upside; De La Rosa and Webster are both intriguing and Zach Lee is now the last man you could safely call a prospect working his way up the system.
From the Red Sox perspective, this is a chance to start over. They doled out massive contracts to star players who have already leaked most of their production, and now the organization is determined to go back to square one, spend money in a different way, and develop more stars from within. The team should be able to retool with younger free agents and home grown talent, and their long-term financial state looks a lot more clear at this point. They also get the pleasure of adding a plus arm like De La Rosa and a top-100 prospect in Webster. Not only did Boston get to set fire to the ledger, they added some talent in the process. This move will obviously damage the team’s chance of winning in the very, very imminent future, but the Sox shouldn’t have any issues getting back to where they want to be in breakneck fashion.
The new ownership group in Los Angeles is committed to winning right now, like right-ass now, and I get that. The team appears to have the financial resources to get the job done, and even if I hate this trade for the long term, the team should be able to do some damage in the National League for the short-term future. Taking on this much in financial obligation for this long while having no one down on the farm to patch the gaps is quite dangerous, and this move will have its share of negative repercussions. Building a baseball team by simply buying everyone doesn’t work nearly as well in this more enlightened age; you just have to be able to build from within and make savvy, low-key moves to stay competitive for more than a couple of years in 2012. If the Dodgers are simply concerned about getting that sexy playoff revenue, erasing their three-game divisional deficit, and competing the next couple of seasons, they have likely accomplished their goal. As for what things will look like even in 2015, the jury is still way, way out.
In a way, this trade makes plenty of sense from both sides. The Dodgers can contend for real right away, and the Red Sox get a chance to reevaluate and reallocate their money. The Dodgers will like how this looks in 2012 (Adrian Gonzalez taking James Loney’s spot in the lineup is pretty huge), but it will be the Red Sox who benefit from the effects of time.
Tagged: Adrian Gonzalez, Allen Webster, Boston Red Sox, Carl Crawford, Ivan De Jesus, James Loney, Jerry Sands, Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB Trade Rumors, MLB Trades, Nick Punto, Rubby De La Rosa