This weekend, a blockbuster deal was made in baseball that amassed more contract dollars for the Los Angeles Dodgers in one day than another blockbuster, Borat, made in two months at the box office.
In the unlikeliest of post trade-deadline moves, the Red Sox sent infielder Nick Punto, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and power-hitting first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers for first baseman James Loney and a host of Boston’s most promising prospects.
For the Red Sox, the deal offers a chance to rebuild as their worst season in recent memory has them effectively out of playoff contention. Their 60-67 record has them in fourth place in the AL East and 9.5 games out of the American League’s second Wild Card spot.
Boston overnighted a considerable amount of Major League experience and $262.5 million in payroll over the next several years but welcomed in significant potential.
Pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster have combined for .2 innings in the MLB but are likely to be consistent inning eaters for the Red Sox in the next couple seasons and infielder Jerry Sands is poised to hit his stride after getting his feet wet with the Dodgers.
The minor league phenom is hitting a sub-Mendoza Line .174 but only had 23 at bats this season with Los Angeles before being dealt. Loney, the other position player now being sent to Boston, offers a good-enough veteran bat that should take Boston to the end of the season with no glaring issues.
In Los Angeles, obtaining Crawford, Punto, Beckett and Gonzalez frees up a substantial amount of cash to pursue free agents in the off-season…pause not (as our friend Borat would so eloquently put it).
After picking up Hanley Ramirez, who is owed $15.5 million in 2013, just a few weeks ago, the Dodgers front office is now throwing more money at the wall, hoping a National League pennant will be what sticks.
As with most roster moves, however, the Dodgers are getting more on paper than in reality.
Crawford is a long-term investment and will have five years remaining on his contract at season’s end but is out at least until Spring Training after undergoing Tommy John surgery two days ago.
Gonzalez has been effective this season with 16 home runs and 87 RBI but will be turning 31 next May and Beckett, 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA, is putting up KFC-in-the-clubhouse type numbers in his 2012 campaign.
L.A. currently finds itself 2 games back of the Giants in the NL West and a half-game out of the second Wild Card position.
Despite his rocky start, look for Beckett to pitch well in the month of September. The right-hander has had success in pressure situations before (see: 2003 World Series) and the turmoil in Boston’s clubhouse with Manager Bobby Valentine certainly hasn’t helped this season. His presence will bolster the back end of a rotation that currently features a shaky-at-best Joe Blanton.
Sometimes a change in scenery is exactly what three talented players need. Carl Crawford looked as though he hit with the weight of the world (equivalent to the expectations of Red Sox Nation) on his shoulders last season and Adrian Gonzalez, a San Diego native, will once again enjoy the luxury of not having to worry about things like wind chill come late September.
Despite all the questions surrounding this late-season shuffle, it seems as though everyone is now in the right place. The Red Sox return to their “farm system-built” feel, while the Dodgers come one step closer to making Magic Johnson look like a combination savior-genius.
With the dust finally settling after the dropping of this unexpected bombshell, Boston now provides some legitimacy for its long-term hopes; without immediate production in Los Angeles, the Dodgers playoff hopes for this season “will be execute.”