Red Sox and Dodgers Close to Making Blockbuster Trade

The Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the process of completing the biggest trade of the baseball season.  Boston is reported to be sending Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for James Loney, and prospects Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa and Ivan DeJesus.  Both Gonzalez and Beckett were claimed off waivers by the Dodgers earlier today.  For those of you confused as to how trades work after the non-waiver trade deadline, when a player is placed on waivers and is claimed by another team, the team placing the player on waivers has 48 hours to work out a trade with the team making the claim, allow the claim to go through without making a trade, or to pull the player off waivers.  Players claimed after August 31 are ineligible for the playoffs.  Both Gonzalez and Loney have been scratched from their scheduled games tonight, indicating that a trade is imminent.

This trade signifies several important things for the Red Sox, first and foremost that they are giving up on this season and are entering a rebuilding/reloading phase by trading their starting first baseman, left fielder and a key member of their starting rotation.  Second, this trade clearly indicates that Bobby Valentine will remain the manager of the Red Sox beyond this season.  Earlier this month, I wrote that the Red Sox had to fire Valentine or else change their roster substantially to ship out some of the players who disliked Valentine and complained to Boston ownership about him in July.  The Sox have clearly chosen the latter course of action.  Third, the Red Sox don’t believe that Beckett and Crawford can recapture their star form, as both had a disappointing season in 2012 and are owed a combined $229.5 million over the remainder of their contracts.  The Dodgers, on the other hand, are looking to bolster their roster for the stretch drive; they are currently 1.5 games out of a wild card spot and 3 games behind division leading San Francisco.

Here are the major pieces that the two teams would get in this trade:

The Dodgers:

Adrian Gonzalez-The 31-year-old has just 15 homeruns and an .812 OPS, disappointing numbers for a man making $21 million for each of the next seven years.  He previously put up big numbers (4 season of 30 plus homeruns) playing in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, so the move to spacious Dodger Stadium shouldn’t hurt him too much.  He would be a significant upgrade over Loney.

Josh Beckett-This player could definitely benefit from the move to the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium.  His 1.33 WHIP and 5.23 ERA this year were a bad surprise after his solid 2011.  Beckett would provide a veteran, playoff experienced starter (13 career playoff starts) who could fill out the middle of the L.A. rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley for the stretch drive.  He has two years and $31.5 million left on his contract.

Carl Crawford-After another injury-plagued season (just 31 games) in 2012, Crawford wants to have Tommy John Surgery to treat his injured elbow, which has been bothering him all season.  He is owed $20-plus million over each of the next five seasons, and could be healthy at some point in 2013 and could take over for the aging Bobby Abreu in left field next season.

The Red Sox:

James Loney: Is a first baseman with inadequate power (.646 OPS in 2012, career .423 slugging percentage) who can also play a little right field.  He is arbitration-eligible this off-season, and could be a temporary replacement at first base for Gonzalez until Sands is ready to take over, or could be the left-handed half of a platoon with Sands at first.

Jerry Sands-Is a 24-year-old who can play first base, right or left field.  He has hit 53 homeruns over the past two seasons in Triple-A and has also posted an OPS of .921 over that span.  Sands strikes out a lot (1 K per 4 at bats in Triple-A), but he could be a cheap source of power at first base or in left field for the Sox for the next couple of years.

Rubby De La Rosa-This 23-year-old right-handed pitcher recently returned from Tommy John Surgery on August 21.  He has just over 60 innings of experience in the Majors, and has pitched in Rookie and High-A ball this year.  He has averaged over a K per nine innings in 6 minor league seasons, with a 2.75 ERA, and he should be given a shot at the Boston rotation in 2013.

Ivan DeJesus-The former second round pick of the Dodgers in 2005 has just 40 games of Major League experience.  He has spent the past three season at Triple-A, hitting a collective .301 with a .770 OPS.  He has played five different positions in 2012, and has previous experience as a shortstop.  His bat may not be good enough to allow him to become the future starting shortstop the Sox are looking for.

As the negotiations continue, it will be interesting to see how the Dodgers new ownership group, which includes Magic Johnson, is able to handle the approximately $253 million in player salaries they are receiving from the Red Sox.

…and that’s the Last Word.

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