Red Sox Make Monster Trade, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford Gone

Fangraphs Dave Cameron just posted a rumoured trade involving Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto heading to Los Angeles, with a group of five players (including James Loney, Rubby de la Rosa, Jerry Sands, Ivan DeJesus and “a prospect”) headed back to Boston.

Cameron wrote:

In trading away Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett, the team is instantly divesting itself of three of their largest financial commitments. Even ignoring the remainders of their 2012 salaries, the Red Sox owed Gonzalez an additional $127 million through 2018, Crawford was due $103 million through 2017, and Beckett had $32 million guaranteed through 2014. Just in 2013 and beyond salaries, the Red Sox are potentially dumping $262 million if they’re not sending along cash to help facilitate the deal.

Even if you think Adrian Gonzalez is a great first baseman — and he has been before and could be again — the Red Sox shouldn’t have too many problems replacing the lost production for $262 million. Even if the Dodgers hadn’t sent them any talent in return, just clearing these guys off the books makes this a worthwhile trade for Boston. This is a deal the Red Sox couldn’t walk away from even if the Dodgers were only offering some of Frank McCourt’s old hair spray. The Red Sox were given chance to start over with a clean slate, and the opportunity was just too good to pass up.

What a monster trade.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports had this take:

This is about the money. It always was about the money. The Red Sox found themselves in an untenable situation financially because Gonzalez’s and Crawford’s contracts hamstrung them not just now but through 2017. So they floated Gonzalez on waivers, found a taker, convinced that taker to swallow Crawford’s remaining $102.5 million and Beckett’s $31.5 million, finagled a pair of starting pitchers with high-octane fastballs and turned $106.9 million in commitments for next season into $45.6 million worth of 2013 obligations.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington saved his predecessor, Theo Epstein, from living down more than the Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey disasters. The allure of deep pockets can turn a rational GM into a reckless one. Even for a team like the Red Sox, who come close to selling out every home game, the principle of fiscal responsibility must be more than rhetoric. Sloppy contracts have permeated Boston’s roster since it last won the World Series in 2007.

Once the trade is official, its reshaping begins. Enough front-line pieces exist for the Red Sox to enter 2013 with hope, especially considering the depth and quality of their prospects and what the newfound financial freedom may afford them, be it Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke or whoever else fears not stepping into the terrordome that is present-day Boston baseball culture.

What more to say?  Thoughts?


1 Response to “Red Sox Make Monster Trade, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford Gone”

  1. 1 chief00 August 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    It’s a great deal for both teams. The LAD show that they’re serious about this year (beyond this year, who knows?), while the Red Sox give themselves a lot of freedom. Used wisely, I think that freedom can last at least until the ’13 offseason.

    There are solid parallels between what Cherington seems to be trying to do with this deal and what AA has done in TOR. Both teams shed salaries. Both GMs served as assistants in the previous regime. Both GMs have sought to remove the ‘deadwood’ left behind by the previous tide. There are other parallels, but there are differences, too.

    One key difference is that Cherington had much more valuable pieces to move than AA did. All along I’ve maintained–whether rightly or wrongly–that JP Ricciardi ‘left the cupboard bare’ when he was fired. The farm had few valuable pieces (bottom five farm ranking), while the ML roster seemed to have even fewer (an unproven Jose Bautista became the best player). This deal seems to highlight TOR’s plight.

    For instance I was flabbergasted when Alex Rios, bad contract and all, was put on waivers in Aug ’09, claimed by the CWS, then allowed to leave simply for salary relief. Surely, I thought, Rios is more valuable than that. After all, I reasoned, it wasn’t long before this that he was rumoured to be headed to the SFG in exchange for Tim Lincecum straight-up. TOR is reaping the ‘benefits’ of JPR’s shortsightedness now.

    TOR’s most significant trade piece was Roy Halladay, whom JPR foolishly dangled at the ’09 non-waiver trade deadline. With his contract expiring, his desire to play for a winner, and the reality that TOR wouldn’t be able to turn things around quickly enough, the die was cast. The value of AA’s best trade chip was compromised before it was even used.

    Another key difference is that Cherington found one buyer, and that buyer was willing to assume >96% of the contracts involved AND deal good prospects. This will accelerate the rebuilding process in Boston. Financial freedom will allow them to make shrewd FA signings, trades, or to re-sign some of their own players (Jacoby Ellsbury).

    The four prospects are higher-quality (relative to the LAD farm system), and will likely be ML-ready sooner rather than later. They are simply added to the number of good, young players and ML-ready prospects BOS has (Lavarnway, Ciriaco, Middlebrooks, etc.). Who were TOR’s best AAA prospects in the winter of ’09? Arencibia, Snider, Rzepczynski, and Zach Stewart. New Hampshire? David Cooper, Moises Sierra, Tim Collins, Danny Farquhar, and Trystan Magnuson. To deal them would have been to empty the farm completely.

    Cherington will benefit from the deal, with its attendant freedoms and the rich(er) farm. The main benefit could be, of course, a fairly quick turnaround. He dealt a popular player (Gonzalez) whose time in BOS was relatively short, two underperforming, expensive stars with diminishing popularity, and a utility player. It’s hard to see how he couldn’t benefit from the deal.

    It’s a good deal and an exciting deal, especially for the end of August. Who’d’a thunk?

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