As first reported by Fox Sports, the Red Sox agreed to send starting pitcher Josh Beckett, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford — their three highest-salaried players — plus infielder Nick Punto and $12 million cash to the Dodgers in exchange for first baseman James Loney, second baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr., outfielder Jerry Sands and pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
Crawford and Beckett both have no-trade clauses they have to waive, although that's not expected to be an issue.
This deal is a home run for the BoSox, for three simple reasons:
All three players were expected to go unclaimed because none of them were considered to be worth what they'll be paid over the life of their contracts. There's an argument to be made that Gonzalez, who was terrific in 2011, bad in the first half of 2012, and good so far in the second half of 2012, would be worth putting a waiver claim on because his contract isn't all that bad. Yes, he's under contract through his age 36 season, and he's not the type of player whose skill set usually ages well, but he should be productive through the life of his deal, if not necessarily worth $20 million per year.
But the Dodgers didn't just claim Gonzalez...they also claimed troubled righthander Josh Beckett, who has been blamed (along with fellow righty John Lackey) for many of the clubhouse problems that have plagued the Red Sox lately. Beckett had a 2.89 ERA in 2011, but that's sandwiched between a 5.78 ERA in 2010 and a 5.23 ERA this season. He's 32, but with just two more years after this season left on his deal, he's not a terrible upside play if you are a franchise with money to spend. I wouldn't want the Rangers to take him, but I can see the argument.
Carl Crawford is 31, a guy whose game is hitting for average, stealing bases, and playing great defense in left field. He's been terrible in Boston, and his contract was, I would have thought, one of the most unmoveable in baseball.
If Boston were just giving Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez to the Dodgers, paying the Dodgers $12 million, and washing their hands off the group and moving on, I'd say that was a win for the BoSox and a questionable move for the Dodgers. The fact that they are getting some decent pieces back in return makes this a home run for Boston.
As for Los Angeles, yes, they've got deep-pocketed ownership with money to spend. They are still a ways away from the luxury tax, although they are now saddled with huge obligations to Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Gonzalez, and Crawford for a number of years going forward, and they're almost certainly going to re-sign Clayton Kershaw before he becomes a free agent, which will mean another $20 million plus per year for at least a half-decade.
But if you're going to spend $260 million -- which is about what they are absorbing in this deal -- isn't there a better way of spending it than on Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford?
Having money to spend is one thing. Spending it smartly is another thing. Boston had been the perfect example of that of late. Los Angeles may now fall in that category.