The rumored megadeal last night between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers has been completed. Boston will send Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers, and in return, the Red Sox will acquire James Loney, Rubby de la Rosa, Allen Webster, Ivan de Jesus, and Jerry Sands. The main lure of the deal, salary relief, comes into play here as well. The Red Sox will be picking up just $12 million on the contracts they're sending to the Dodgers, which total over $260 million.
Now, let's try for some analysis here…Crawford won't figure into the Dodgers plans until 2013 due to his season-ending Tommy John surgery, but he'll slot into the left field slot next to the already extended Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Crawford's aquisition means that Shane Victorino, who the Dodgers acquired at the trade deadline last month from the Phillies, will be looking for a new home this offseason.
Beckett's acquisition is an interesting one, because the Dodgers have five solid starters right now after picking up Joe Blanton on a waiver claim from the Phillies this month. However, Blanton has struggled in three starts with the Dodgers, and Beckett could slide into his spot in the rotation and hopefully improve upon things there for them. The Dodgers have an intersting situation next season, with six starters (including Beckett and the rehabbing Ted Lilly) under contract. It'll be interesting who gets squeezed out, but my money is on Lilly, who has only made eight starts in the majors this year. The other option would be to sell high on one of LA's two surprising retreads, Aaron Harang or Chris Capuano, which might be wise given their age and performance this season.
Now, the big move for the Dodgers..Adrian Gonzalez. at first base is going to be a monumental improvement over James Loney. Loney's career best in fWAR is 2.3, his career high in homers is 15, and his career best OPS is .919 (set in a 96 game sample in 2007 before he became..James Loney). Contrast that to Gonzalez, who in a 2012 "down year" has 15 homers, a .812 OPS (.971 since the All-Star Break), and has amassed 2.7 fWAR. Juuuuuuuust a bit of an upgrade there too. Gonzalez's contract, which runs through his age 36 season in 2018, is more favorable than the deals signed by Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder this past offseason, which pay much more annually and have longer terms than the Gonzalez pact.
As for Punto, his addition seems to be a part of Ned Coletti's neverending fascination with scrappy middle infielders. Remember this offseason, when he signed Jerry Hairston Jr, Adam Kennedy, and Mark Ellis to join the already signed Juan Uribe? Yeah, now Punto joins that happy foursome because Hairston is hurt. Ah Coletti, never change.
The prospects heading to Boston include some good ones. Looking at things from basketball terms, Loney is an expiring contract, Los Angeles' former first baseman of the future that has fallen flat on his face as a starter. Sure, Dodger Stadium has supressed his power, but the man's ISO on the road is only .171…not as if this is a Gonzalez in Petco type of situation. The 24-year old Sands has received brief time in the majors over the last two years and has struggled, but overall, he raked in AAA Albuquerque, one of the best hitters parks in all of minor league baseball. This season, Sands had a .911 OPS and 24 homers in 109 games, a year after OPSing .930 and hitting 29 bombs in only 94 games. The 25-year old De Jesus is a defensive-minded middle infielder. He's never more than eight homers in a minor league season (and that high came in Albuquerque nonetheless), and he really doesn't have much offense in his game, though he is solid defensively.
The two pitchers heading to Boston in the deal are the real prizes for the Red Sox. De la Rosa was a guy who could hit 100 mph before Tommy John surgery last season, and has thrown just 12 2/3 innings this year in his recovery from the surgery. Before the surgery in 2011, he split time between AA Chattanooga and the majors. In eight starts and 40 innings in the minors, he struck out 52 while walking 19, while in hte majors, de la Rosa struck out 60 in 60 2/3, walking 31. The 23-year old will likely be ready for a role with the 2013 Red Sox on a full-time basis after working his way back this year, and projects as either a starter or a dominant bullpen arm. The 22-year old Webster was coveted by many teams that the Dodgers were talking to last month, and it took a blockbuster like this deal to pry him from Los Angeles' grasp. He's spent the season in Chattanooga, and has made 22 starts and five relief appearances, totaling 121 2/3 innings. He's struck out 117 and walked 57 while only allowing one homer on the year.
You could argue that both teams made out well in this deal…provided that the Red Sox don't go out and spend another $200 million in free agency this winter. That would just be defeating the whole point of dumping all these salaries. Boston has pared over $260 million from their payroll over the next six years, and have shed more than half of their payroll for next season. With under $50 million commited to next year's team, there are a number of directions that the Red Sox can go in, and I'd assume their three main objectives will be to A) sign David Ortiz to a deal that allows him to finish his career in Boston, B) re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury (free agent after 2013) to a long-term deal, and C) rebuild their disaster of a starting rotation, that has Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, potentially John Lackey, and question marks next season.
As for the Dodgers…well, they are clearly going all-in with their new ownership group. Tacking that $60 million in salary onto their current 2013 payroll puts them at $195 million for next year, with about 60% of their roster signed through next season. This Dodgers team has beecome the very definition of a super team, and their main offensive core players are signed through 2014 at the earliest. The only issue I really have with the Dodgers going insane like this….Ned Coletti is the man pulling the strings in the front office. He's proven time and time again that he's an inept general manager, and this could come back to bite the Dodgers in the ass if Coletti keeps throwing new ownership money around like it's candy. LA is currently 1.5 out in the wild card race, and three out in the NL West. They have six games left against the division-leading Giants in their final 36 games, and four left against the second wild card leading Cardinals. The Dodgers schedule isn't easy past those ten games either, with three each on the road against division leaders Washington and Cincinnati, six against the immensely talented Diamondbacks, and six with the suddenly competent Padres. It'll be tough for the Dodgers to make the playoffs this season, but you have to be impressed with the way they've loaded up for the future.
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