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Blockbuster Complete: Red Sox Trade Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett to Dodgers

Josh Beckett

Just when you thought this 2012 Red Sox season was getting a little bit boring, Boston rocks the entire sports world. A trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers of epic proportions has been completed on this Saturday morning, sending Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to L.A. in order to help Boston clear salary space and move forward with newfound financial flexibility.

Here is an exact look at the players moved in the deal, as the Red Sox receive 1B James Loney as well as four prospects, including Rubby De La Rosa, who has promise as a big league starter in the near future:

Dodgers Receive:

  • SP Josh Beckett (age 32, signed through 2014, 4 years/$68M)
  • 1B Adrian Gonzalez (age 30, signed through 2018, 7 years/$154M)
  • LF Carl Crawford (age 31, signed through 2017, 7 years/$142M)
  • INF Nick Punto (age 34, signed through 2013, 2 years/$3M)

Red Sox Receive:

  • SP Rubby De La Rosa (age 23, pre-arbitration)
  • 1B James Loney (age 28, arbitration)
  • RHP Allen Webster (age 22, pre-arbitration)
  • INF Ivan De Jesus (25, pre-arbitration)
  • OF Jerry Sands (age 24, pre-arbitration)

Additionally with such huge contracts being shifted, money is at the center of the deal. The Red Sox will pay the Dodgers $12 million over the next six years, and Los Angeles covers the rest. That is estimated to mean approximately $275 million accumulated in savings for Boston over the course of the contracts being moved out West.

A deal of this magnitude is incredible because it completely changes the outlook on this season as well as the next decade or so for each franchise. The 2012 season is officially over for Boston. The next few weeks will be interesting only for the ability of the team to see how Loney fits on the roster as he heads into arbitration this offseason, as well as the performances of other players the front office could fit into the 2013 puzzle. That list certainly includes Pedro Ciriaco, who could fight for the ability to be the starting shortstop or infield backup.

In 2013 the Red Sox will have most of the current roster back, with the biggest question mark again on the status of David Ortiz, who will go through another battle with ownership for a one-year contract, in all likelihood. Or at least that was the expected route until the trade went down, it’s unclear now as to whether the Red Sox are more likely to move on from Ortiz to clear up even more room or to bring him back.

If Loney returns for 2013 the infield will also include Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks, while shortstop could be occupied by Ciriaco and Mike Aviles, who is also eligible for arbitration. Jarrod Saltalamacchia should return behind the plate with the promising Ryan Lavarnway as a backup option. Trading away Carl Crawford though does create quiet the conundrum in the outfield.

Jacoby Ellsbury will be stationed in center, but now there are question marks on the corners. Fan favorite and ever-friendly Cody Ross is prepared for free agency, though the Sox could attempt to bring him back at a fairly low price. Left field could be filled by Ryan Kalish, who continues to develop into a major league player, though the free agent pool also has appealing names such as Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino (who the Dodgers will part with upon the arrival of Crawford), and even Nick Swisher.

Let’s hypothetically say that the Sox simply sign Ross, start Kalish in left field, retain Loney, and Ortiz does indeed return. This is what the 2013 lineup could look like:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B Dustin Pedroia
  3. DH David Ortiz
  4. 3B Will Middlebrooks
  5. 1B James Loney
  6. RF Cody Ross
  7. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  8. SS Mike Aviles
  9. LF Ryan Kalish

It’s not too bad given all the salary space, which the team is almost certain to take advantage of to fill the outfield hole and possibly shortstop.

As for the starting rotation, without Beckett, the 2013 Sox gain some flexibility as John Lackey returns from Tommy John surgery:

  • SP Jon Lester
  • SP Clay Buchholz
  • SP John Lackey
  • SP Felix Doubront
  • SP Franklin Morales

There is a significant crop of pitchers available as well, including Edwin Jackson and Hiroki Kuroda, both of whom the Sox had to pass on last offseason because of all their large, binding contracts.

The Red Sox bullpen should see a full season out of closer Andrew Bailey, and will likely be assembled more concretely with the role of Alfredo Aceves not as up in the air like the beginning of 2012 when he shifted to the role of closer after wanting to start games. Perhaps the return of Daniel Bard to the eighth inning is an option as well, depending on how he pitches when he eventually returns this September, which is something else to watch for.

In the end it’s tough to be excited about losing a hitter like Adrian Gonzalez, who could be the best hitter in the game over the course of his time with the Dodgers. Yet, he is a fair price for the ability of the team to part ways with both Beckett and Crawford, both of whom were largely disliked by the Boston fan base and not performing at an acceptable level given their earnings.

A fresh start is something to be excited about, especially when a week ago something like this seemed impossible. Before this trade, the Red Sox were not only doomed for 2012, but the team had little hope after this season because of the amount of money they invested in bad contracts. The future is much brighter today in Boston than it was, unfortunately the realistic process of rebuilding can take time no matter the size of a pocketbook for a franchise. No matter who is added or subtracted from the mix, including the fate of manager Bobby Valentine, creating a stronger team chemistry is a key component to building a championship roster, something Boston has been lacking since 2007.

This historical trade is undoubtably the first step towards the next Red Sox championship run.

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