Over the weekend, the Red Sox and the Dodgers completed the most expensive trade in baseball history as the Red Sox shipped Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto’s approximate $287M of future contracts to the Dodgers for 4 prospects and James Loney.
The Red Sox are responsible for only $11M of that $287M (roughly 3.8% of the total) commitment. In return, they get “financial flexibility” and rid themselves of problems in the clubhouse, especially in the case of Beckett. By all accounts Crawford was a tireless worker that had the misfortune of being injured a good portion of his tenure. Gonzalez just never seemed to handle/want the mantle of being a team leader and got run over for it in the Boston media.
The Dodgers got back pitchers Rubby de la Rosa and Allen Webster, infielder Ivan de Jesus, and 1B/OF Jerry Sands as the longer-term pieces. De Jesus is most likely just a utility infielder and Sands appears to be a potential Quad A player that thrived in favorable hitting environments in the minors. That leaves de la Rosa, coming off of Tommy John surgery, and Webster as the primary hopes for this trade from a talent standpoint.
Rubby de la Rosa has a blazing fastball and a full arsenal of pitches at his disposal, but control has always been his hinderance. If all clicks and he responds from his surgery, he’s a #2 pitcher. Webster has a more standard profile of a low 90′s/touch mid 90′s fastball, curve, and changeup. Webster’s concern is his slight build and how it may affect his long-term durability as a starter.
The general discourse nationally about this trade is that the Dodgers are going nuts on spending (as I predicted in late June, but not envisioning to this extent) and that the Red Sox are cleaning up the bad deals done by Ben Cherington’s predecessor, Theo Epstein. They are being lauded for getting out from under bad deals and infusing talent into a downtrending farm system. Boston media is saying that these trades are refreshing and that building from within, not wildly spending on free agency, is how the top Red Sox from earlier this decade were built.
But if the Pirates offload bloated salaries or players that weren’t great in the clubhouse, each trade gets accused of a salary dump and open for dissection on whether the team “won” or “lost” each individual trade. If the Pirates do it, they’re quitters. If the Red Sox do it, they are wisely reloading their franchise. When, or if, Webster and de la Rosa don’t live up to their prospect expectations, will the trade still be viewed favorably because it was done by the Red Sox and they were able to start the payroll slate clean?
I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. And or market share and national clout.
Starting in the very near future, this blog will shift into a Baseball Business Blog that looks at economic issues and implications for the Pirates and other teams throughout MLB. If you have any suggestions for articles, please leave them in the comments below.