Posted October 09, 2013

Looking back at blockbuster trade between LCS-bound Dodgers and Red Sox

Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers
Carl Crawford and adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez never got as far with the Red Sox as they have this year with the Dodgers. (Adam Davis/Icon SMI)

The Dodgers and Red Sox are the first two teams to secure berths in their respective League Championship Series, with the former dispatching the Braves from the National League Division Series on Monday night and the latter eliminating the Rays from their American League Division Series on Tuesday. Whether or not the two teams take the next step to meet in the World Series, their current shape owes much to the stunning blockbuster trade they pulled off on Aug. 25, 2012, and as such, it merits a look back.

The deal allowed the Red Sox to clean house after the team’s September 2011 collapse morphed into an even unhappier 2012, one in which Boston lost 93 games, its highest total since 1965. In sending Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, the Sox freed themselves from more than $270 million in future salary commitments while unloading players generally perceived to be unhappy in Boston for one reason or another. Crawford remains bitter about his Beantown experience, and neither he nor Gonzalez would talk to Boston-based muckraker Dan Shaughnessy when the Sox visited L.A. for an interleague series that coincidentally marked the one-year anniversary of the trade.

The players the Red Sox received in return — Rubby De La Rosa, Ivan De Jesus, James Loney, Jerry Sands and Allen Webster — made little direct impact on the 2013 team; in fact, De Jesus, Loney and Sands were gone from the organization before the season started. Instead Boston filled the spots of the departed players with lower-cost free agents such as Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. As a result, not only did the team cut its Opening Day payroll from $175.2 million in 2012 to $154.6 million this year, but those signing by and large paid off handsomely as the Sox won an AL-high 97 games and claimed the AL East flag for the first time since 2007.

For the Dodgers, the acquisition of the aforementioned quartet wasn’t enough to spur a run to the playoffs in 2012, but this year, those players did help Los Angeles to 92 wins and its first NL West title since 2009. While the amount of salary the Dodgers took on at almost no discount came as a shock, it did nothing to hinder the new ownership group — which had purchased the team for a record $2.15 billion in the spring of 2012 — from continuing to spend money. Moreover, the additions anticipated the erosion of the free agent market as a means of acquiring high-end talent, though it remains to be seen whether Gonzalez and Crawford, in particular, will maintain their value as they age.

When looked at from a strictly sabermetric standpoint, calling the trade a win for both sides may not make total sense. For 2013, the Dodgers netted 7.0 Wins Above replacement from the four players they received, at a cost of $58.25 million — not a good return given that the cost of a win on the free agent market is about $5-6 million. Even so, Los Angeles got significantly more value from three of their four roster spots relative to 2012, and that expenditure didn’t prevent them from pushing their payroll above $200 million. While Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez may not earn their entire keeps over the remainder of their deals, the Dodgers at least didn’t have to sacrifice any compensatory draft picks to get them.

On the Red Sox side, the two players still with the team came in at -1.2 WAR for some prorated fraction of the minimum salary, but their value lies in the years of club control they still have remaining as well as the payroll flexibility that enabled general manager Ben Cherington to make moves that helped return the team to its winning ways.

What follows is a closer look at the trajectory of each player involved in the trade, starting with the Dodgers as their end of the deal is more visible at this time.

Los Angeles

Adrian Gonzalez
Amid a barrage of injuries, the 31-year-old first baseman was the Dodgers’ steadiest player in 2013. His 157 games were 15 more than Andre Ethier and 25 more than any other regular, and both his 22 homers and 100 RBIs led the team.

Gonzalez’s final batting line (.293/.342/.461) wasn’t tremendously impressive, but it was a virtual carbon copy of his 2012 performance (.299/.344/.463) in a more pitcher-friendly context; as a result, his OPS+ rose from 117 to 126, and his Wins Above Replacement from 3.5 to 3.9. That’s still a ways off from his 2006-2011 peak (.297/.380/.520 for a 144 OPS+, with an average of 31 homers and 4.5 WAR) via five seasons in San Diego’s Petco Park and one in Fenway, and there’s reason to be concerned that his surgically repaired right shoulder (operated on in October 2010) will never allow him to reach those heights again. With $106 million still due over the next five years, he’ll have to age gracefully to maintain his value.

Carl Crawford
Crawford spent 33 days on the disabled list in June and July due to a hamstring strain but was still more productive this season than in his injury-plagued days in Boston. He hit .283/.329/.407 for a 108 OPS+ and 1.7 WAR, up from .260/.292/.419 for an 89 OPS+ and a combined 0.6 WAR in 2011 and ’12.

Still, that’s a far cry from the performance in Tampa Bay that induced the Sox to sign him for $142 million over seven years in December 2010. As a Ray he hit .306/.360/.473 for a 125 OPS+ in 2009 and ’10 while averaging 17 homers, 54 steals and 6.0 WAR. This year, he stole just 19 bases and homered six times, with his power disappearing after April; he hit just .276/.312/.378 from May through September before erupting for a .353/.421/.882 line and three home runs in the Division Series, with two of those homers coming in Monday’s clincher. Still, he’s due $82.5 million over the next four years and has a long way to go before he’ll be worth that money.

Nick Punto
Jokingly referred to as the centerpiece of “the Nick Punto trade,” the 35-year-old utilityman came in particularly handy this year for the injury-riddled Dodgers. He started 71 games at second base, shortstop and third base, hit .255/.328/.327 in 335 PA — his highest total since 2009 — slid into first base at every opportunity and shredded the jersey of any player who collected a walk-off hit for the Dodgers. His 2.2 WAR was more than enough to justify his $1.5 million salary, and was in fact his highest total since 2008. Given that, it would hardly be a shock if Los Angeles retains him once he reaches free agency this winter.

Josh Beckett
After getting lit up for a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts with Boston in 2012, Beckett showed signs of improvement upon moving to the Dodgers, posting a 2.93 ERA in seven late-season starts. Alas, he struggled mightily in 2013 and was torched for a 5.19 ERA and 1.7 homers per nine in eight starts through mid-May before going on the disabled list due to an irritated nerve.

It was ultimately discovered that he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and he underwent surgery in July, shelving him for the year. Los Angeles will try to salvage some value out of him in 2014, when he’ll make $15.75 million in the final season of his four-year deal.

Boston

James Loney
After batting a dismal .254/.302/.344 in 359 PA for the Dodgers in 2012 — a continuation of his long downward slide from his 2007 rookie season — Loney skidded even more severely upon moving to Boston. Playing nearly every day in Gonzalez’s place over the final month of the season, he hit just .230/.264/.310 with two homers in 106 PA and finished the year with -1.1 WAR.

Not surprisingly, he received little attention upon hitting the free agent market, but the budget-minded Rays signed him for $2 million and got a strong return for their money. Even though he tailed off considerably in the second half, the 29-year-old lefty finished at .299/.348/.430; his 13 homers and 118 OPS+ matched his best marks since ’07, while his 2.7 WAR was a career high. His .351/.404/.486 line in 307 PA away from Tropicana Field made for the highest road batting average of any player with at least 200 PA.

In addition to flashing the leather in impressive fashion, he went 6-for-16 with a pair of doubles in the Rays’ abbreviated postseason run. His fine season should help him draw considerably more interest this winter than he got last time around.

Allen Webster
The 49th-ranked prospect on Baseball America‘s Top 100 Prospects list and the talk of the Red Sox camp back in spring, the 23-year-old Webster spent the season shuttling between Triple-A Pawtucket and the majors, being recalled on four separate occasions and making a total of seven starts and one relief appearance. Alas, while he put up solid numbers at Pawtucket (3.60 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts per nine) and flashed mid-90s heat at the major league level, he struggled with his command and control when given the chance by the Sox and was knocked around for an 8.60 ERA and 2.1 homers per nine in 30 1/3 innings.

He still projects as a third or fourth starter at the major league level by virtue of three plus pitches (fastball, slider changeup), but he’s far from claiming a spot in Boston’s rotation.

Rubby De La Rosa
De La Rosa tantalized in 60 2/3 innings with the Dodgers in 2011 before needing Tommy John surgery, and he threw just 9 2/3 competitive innings in 2012, so 2013 was really a comeback year for him. Not surprisingly, he had control problems at Pawtucket, walking 5.4 per nine while striking out 8.5 en route to a 4.26 ERA in 80 1/3 innings, mostly as a short-stint starter. The 24-year-old righty made 11 appearances for the Red Sox totaling 11 1/3 innings, all in relief. That may be where his future lies given his high-90s heat, inconsistent secondary offerings and mechanical issues, but his ceiling is as a closer, so he may yet have a big major league impact.

Ivan De Jesus
A 25-year-old utility infielder at the time of the trade, De Jesus collected just eight plate appearances with the Red Sox after being dealt, and still had only 80 in his major league career by the end of last season, with a .205/.253/.247 line. The Sox sent him to Pittsburgh in December as part of the Joel Hanrahan/Mark Melancon trade, but he has yet to debut for the Pirates. He hit .319/.380/.457 in 345 plate appearances at Triple-A Indianapolis this year, but may be stuck with the “organizational depth” tag unless another team envisions a larger role.

Jerry Sands
Sands, an outfielder/first baseman who homered 26 times for the Dodgers’ Triple-A Albuquerque team in 2012, never got to play for the Red Sox, and like De Jesus, he was sent to Pittsburgh in the Hanrahan/Melancon trade. He didn’t get to play for the Pirates either. The now-26-year-old righty hit just .207/.311/.329 with seven homers in 397 PA at Indianapolis, making headlines only for a one-game suspension for going into the stands to confront a heckler in Toledo. He did miss time in June with a hamstring injury, and again like De Jesus, looks more like organizational depth than anything else.

44 comments
jamesbar
jamesbar

After the failed Boston McCourt ownership disaster the new ownership group had to make a splash. With prime free agents off the market they got very creative and made a great move for the Dodgers. This move certainly added a couple of extra billion to their TV deal and made them WS contenders. Results for the Dodgers is an $8 BILLION TV deal and 3.7 Million in attendance so far. The Dodgers are a financial Juggernaut now in one of the worlds top destinations. Recruiting free agents to LA will be a breeze. Manhattan Beach is better than Manhattan. Boston sucks compared to LA. 

PeterWilliamLetheby
PeterWilliamLetheby

I am not a fan of either Bosox or LAD, but I think you need to compare the production of LA's newcomers vs. their replacements in Boston -- Gonzo vs. Napoli, Crawford vs. Victorino, Punto vs. Gomes or whomever, Beckwith vs. anybody -- than throw in the salary commitments. If LA does not win the Series, Boston was the clear winner in the trade

The_Sports_Dude
The_Sports_Dude

I think an important aspect to this trade that is being overlooked is that Los Angeles is a star-driven city.  The Dodgers acquiring name-brand players like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to team with established homegrown stars Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp gave the team instant credibility that was lost in this town during the McCourt Era.  That instant credibility and resurgence of fan support directly led to the Dodgers obtaining the most lucrative RSN deal in the history worth $6 BILLION, which means they'll be raking in $240MM per year just from TV rights alone.  The Dodgers aren't able to pull that deal off with only Kemp and Ethier in the line up and Kershaw pitching every 5 days.  So while Boston fans are justified in their happiness of shedding $240MM in salary over the next 7 years, you guys are counting change, while the Dodgers are counting stacks.

colin333
colin333

By taking the big contracts in the coming years, Dodgers do this trade to win NOW
By ridding the big contracts, RED SOX do this trade to win LONG TERM. 

They are both winning NOW, so Dodgers get fair value in the trade, but RedSox clearly wins the trade.

DumbDadNU87
DumbDadNU87

The sox wanted those guys gone - when the dodgers said they would pick up the entire huge salaries of those guys they said "really???" and JUMPED at the chance. Although I do think sending Gonzo was the price for taking crawford and beckett off their hands. There were rumors that crawford and beckett were going to be waived in Sept or released after the season. I don't think there has to be a winner here. The sox were cutting payroll and rebuilding - the dodgers were looking for a playoff push. A year later it seems to have worked out well for both.

mach3
mach3

Who wins the trade, a person that gets an old mercedes, and a few ferrari's.  or the person that got a buick, that broke down, and a few Dodge trucks that work, but need an engine that will be built in 3 years?  Aka Dodgers win the trade...   Without Gonzo, Crawford, Punto.  The Dodgers struggle to get into the playoffs.  Look how bad they were prior to Puig..   Red Sox got lucky who they picked up were decent, but This is not Hockey the Beards' are going down.  Go A's or Tigers! 

mach3
mach3

The Boston fans do not realize....  Dodgers don't cared about $$ they have 300 Billion +..  Even the Yankees now look poor..

jackgorfin
jackgorfin

Worthless article, no conclusion reached at all.  Why did I waste my time reading this garbage.

nrjsapien
nrjsapien

As the lead character in the TV series about a sports agent, Arli$$, once said "It's a win-win for everybody-body. A team with finicky thoroughbreds in need of work horses, Boston, found a team in desperate need of thoroughbreds and able to pay for their upkeep in the Dodgers. Carl Crawford was drastically overpaid by Theo "the shovel" Epstein to come to Boston. He was never treated bad in Boston by the fans or writers, he simply didn't produce. He confirmed a lot of peoples suspicions that he is a warm weather ball player. Adrian Gonzalez again was overpaid by Theo once Theo had traded for him. Adrian produced magnificently on the field, he was just incapable of being a team leader off the field or in the club house. Josh Beckett threw away the good karma he had earned in Boston in 2007 by the end of 2011 when he visibly didn't care during the meltdown. So Carl got to go to a warm weather club, A-Gon got to play for a team that didn't need a team leader and Josh Beckett got to revive his almost ended career for 2 months. Meanwhile Boston got to buy some much better team players who cost less money.

JamieBreslow
JamieBreslow

Since at this point you can't make an argument that either team lost, I guess for now they are both winners. Why not wait until one is eliminated to bring this up.

Jai2
Jai2

So far the red sox won. They have a better record in a tighter division and just beat a team that would have killed the Dodgers if they were in easy west.  Plus they saved all that money on two or three big fat babies that can't take responcibility for anything they did

JPG
JPG

Easy answer.

The trade was a big winner for the Dodgers.  The Red Sox got better by other means.  They Dodgers got better by this trade.

If the Red Sox were in the playoffs this trade would go down in baseball history as one of the worst, and in this case, against the Boston.

This was a gamble by the Dodgers and it paid off.  If you don't think otherwise just replay that last game with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers absolutely cleaned the Red Sox clock in this one.  

And it's only the beginning.

Brian113
Brian113

This was a win now move 2013-2014 for the Dodgers.  They had to grab the fans attention, now, this year. The McCourt's (another Boston product) had ruined the fan base in LA.  They also needed time to rebuild the farm.  Also they gave up nothing for the trade.  So for the Dodgers this was a great success. Attendance up again and TV ratings through the roof. 

pamperofirpo
pamperofirpo

This is an excellent topic, and one that should be revisited each year. As of today, both teams won. But, the Red Sox are in far better position moving forward. The Beckett and Crawford contracts are albatrosses. AG's contract is not as bad (it certainly is better than the Pujols, Hamilton, ARod, Texiera and other mega-multi year deals).

Since James Loney's name came up in this article, I just have to congratulate the Rays organization. Every year they seem to get a couple of low-price veterans to overachieve (Loney & Y. Escobar this year). And, the trades they make are fabulous. 

Winger7
Winger7

Crawford couldn't handle the pressure in Boston; he never looked comfortable.  Beckett was/is arrogant and clueless.  The Sox are doing pretty well without any of them.  I liked Gonzalez.

gymviking
gymviking

Can't measure this by WAR. This is about business. Boston took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get out from under three bad contracts (for them). Nobody would take Crawford or Beckett's contracts on, but they got publicity starved LA to do it to get Gonzalez. (who is also overpaid at current production). In that light, Boston won big time!!

However, if you look at LA's television contract and the potential market for them if they can set a new winning tradition, they still have the opportunity to make this the biggest steal since Boston sold Babe to the Yankees, not in terms of numbers on the field, but because it could change the future of the organization for decades to come.

jjcruiser
jjcruiser

It's spelled "muckraker."  But it was a great line nonetheless.


Winger7
Winger7

For the Sox, it was a clear cut case of addition by subtraction.

UBERTAXTHERICH
UBERTAXTHERICH

Getting rid of Theo was the key move for the Red Sox.

Derek8
Derek8

Think we'll have our answer on Halloween...

salvaje50
salvaje50

Dodgers look good now but let's see how Crawford and Gonzo look two or three more years from now

PeterWilliamLetheby
PeterWilliamLetheby

Yeh, maybe the Dodgers will be the new Yankees -- one title in the past 13 years.

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

@mach3 Red Sox dumped tons of salary, rid their team of malcontents, ended up with a much lower payroll than the Dodgers, and won more games than the Dodgers.  Red Sox won the trade.

MrTemecula
MrTemecula

@Jai2 MMM. The Dodgers swept the Rays when they were in L.A. You probably should retract the second sentence. Moreover, should the Dodgers get into the World Series and beat the Red Sox, I think Sox fans would still think they won the trade because they spent less money than the Dodgers to get to the World Series. Sox fans are so happy their owners get to keep more money.

SamF
SamF

@Jai2 Good stuff ... you do know the Dodgers went 3-0 against Tampa this year, right? (And yes, I know the Dodgers went 1-2 in Fenway, but the Sox faced neither Kershaw nor Greinke)

jackgorfin
jackgorfin

Just another idiotic boson fan who doesnt know anything about baseball.

JamieBreslow
JamieBreslow

@Jai2 You're so wrong. What could Tampa beat the Dodgers with exactly?

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

@JPG Are you for real? The only reason the Sox were able to improve "by other means" is because the Dodgers took 200+ million dollars off of their payroll over the next few years. The Sox won this trade as soon as it happened and that's even if Webster and De Le Rosa fail to pan out. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be paying a couple of 36 year old over the hill players 35-40mil combined in 2016. 

MrTemecula
MrTemecula

@Winger7 I don't get the Beckett hate? Would Boston have won a championship in 2007 without him. Seems ungrateful to me.

Beckett was pretty good at the end of last year, and pitched hurt this year, but throughout his time, Beckett has been a model A citizen. I hope the operation works and the Dodgers get a good year from him in 2014.

ChuckLasher
ChuckLasher

Excellent commentary Gym. Asa lifelong Red Sox fan, August 26, 2012 will forever be remembered as Renaissance Day. The prospect of 5 more years of Carl Crawfish was too much to even think about, and Beckett was equally awful. Combine this move with getting rid of the Boy Genius to the Cubs and good things happened immediately. This year's team has been exciting, and likable. The absolute opposite of the Gonzalez, Crawfish, Beckett bums.

jamesbar
jamesbar

@PeterWilliamLetheby And maybe not. I put my money on Stan Kasten and Co. He has a pretty impressive record only now he is in a large market with a large payroll. He is rebuilding the whole organization, from scouting, minors leagues, player development staff, stadium;etc, not just the roster.

The_Sports_Dude
The_Sports_Dude

@PeterWilliamLetheby One title in 13 years is better than no titles in 25, which is what the Dodgers are  working on at the moment.  While people tend to only focus on the number of titles, they tend to gloss over the fact that the playoffs are a crap-shoot due to the nature of the game.  A high payroll more directly correlates to regular season success and a playoff berth, but once you're in the playoffs, you just hope to get hot and catch breaks. 

The_Sports_Dude
The_Sports_Dude

@DanaBunner @mach3 I don't think you can really use overall wins this season as one of the main parameters, since the Dodgers were riddled with injuries all year yet managed to still win 92 games and their division with a double-digit spread.  Salary-relief was what the Red Sox wanted and received, while the Dodgers were looking to make a splash by adding big names in a star-driven city.  I think both team achieved their goals.  That Boston ended up with a lower payroll than the Dodgers is neither here nor there because although the Fenway Sports Group is incredibly wealthy, it's not in the same stratosphere as Guggenheim Partners of which the Dodgers represent only a fraction of its holdings. 

JPG
JPG

@BlackSession1 @JPG  You didn't even answer your own quesion.  Sure, the Dodgers took money off of Boston's payroll but what did they do with it to improve play.. 

 Nothing.

Boston in 2013 is alike compared to the Seattle Mariners in 2001.  After taking off Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. the Mariners then took A-Rod off the payroll and then  to win 116 games.  They even won 93 in 2002 and 93 again in 2004 but no playoff appearances and nothing since.

Boston may be going through a fluke season unless they do something with their savings.  You can say what you want but the Dodgers were not going to make the playoffs this year unless they have both Gonzales and Crawoford.


nrjsapien
nrjsapien

@MrTemecula @Winger7 Josh Beckett was a good pitcher who had moments of greatness. And he certainly helped Boston win the title in 2007. But he showed out of shape just about every season after that and only pitched well every other season. If you are paying a guy 15 mil$ per you expect a bit of production every season. Beckett acted like he never cared. He was just happy being paid. And his bad habits rubbed off to the other pitchers who didn't have his level of "natural talent". That is what is behind the disregard for Josh Beckett. 

Jai2
Jai2

@MrTemecula @Winger7 You don't live here if you can't understand why people hate Beckett. I am smart enough to not believe everything the media says but if you lived here and saw how he acted and what a prima donna he is you would understand.  People appreciate his part in the 07 world series but that does NOT give him an excuse to be a jerk.

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

@MrTemecula @Winger7 Lot of Sox fans are short-sighted as evidenced by many comments on NESN pages. Beckett may have been combative, but he was a big reason they won in '07. Personally, I was happy to have him and was sad to see him leave if only because I've been a fan of his since the Marlin days. 

Oldsportsguy
Oldsportsguy

@The_Sports_Dude @DanaBunner @mach3 I think you can use 42 wins in 50 games as a measurable parameter. Once the core got healthy they flipped the switch and turned it around. In other words, whenever the Dodgers need to, they can get it done. And this very probably will occur again at playoff time.

I think it's very skewed to say the Sox 'won' . They both got what they wanted, so nobody 'lost' no matter who wins the World Series. 

By the way, I'm an A's fan, so I'm always envious of both these organizations.

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

@JPG @BlackSession1 Did you even read the stat lines? Crawford did, essentially, nothing from May through September. 

And the Sox are different from those Mariners in that they have both the capital and desire to invest it if they deem it necessary. 

Finally, if you really don't think the signings of Victorino, Napoli, Gomes, et al, helped propel the Sox this season I don't know why we're even having this discussion. 

The Dodgers aren't necessarily losers in the short term, because Gonzalez did provide stability, if not amazing numbers. But like I said - the Dodgers will regret having paying for the end halves of those contracts. Unless they go the way of the 2000s Yankees teams and just eat that payroll and simply add more.