Prior to Friday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals where designated hitter David Ortiz returned to the lineup after a three week absence with an achilles injury he said, "you all can sit back and enjoy the show tonight."
No one imagined the show being a blockbuster deal involving three of the teams’ highest paid players and biggest stars.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, left fielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and utility infielder Nick Punto have been rumored to be traded to the Los Angels Dodgers in return for pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, first baseman James Loney and prospects infielder Ivan De Jesus and outfielder Jerry Sands, plus an additional top-prospect rumored to be pitcher Allen Webster.
The trade was first reported by ESPN Boston and according to reports is pending the passing of player medical files.
Also, Beckett and Crawford need to accept the trade because of Beckett’s 10-5 (been in league 10 years, five with same team) and Crawford’s limited no-trade clause in his contract. Beckett and Crawford are both expected to allow the deal to go through, reports say.
Following Friday’s game Red Sox players did not say much on the possible trade, but added nothing is surprising in the game these days.
“Nothing shocks me in this game anymore,” outfielder Cody Ross said. “Stuff happens all the time. It is the way the game is.”
Ortiz did get the chance to speak to Gonzalez for a few minutes after he was removed from the lineup a few minutes prior to the first pitch.
“We talked for a little bit and he is shocked like we all are a little bit,” Ortiz said. “He wants to be here. That is why he came here, to help the ballclub win a World Series and signed long-term like he did. Getting to be out the second year is kind of surprising.”
The deal will free up close to $260 million for the Red Sox, minus however much cash they were to give to the Dodgers. It has been speculated the Red Sox would need to give the Dodgers some cash in return, but the exact amount remains to be seen.
Crawford is owed $102.5 million over the next five years, Gonzalez is owed $130 million through 2016 when accounting for the remainder his 2012 salary, Beckett’s deal is $15.75 million per season through 2014 and Punto is owed $1.5 million next year.
This allows the Red Sox to be much more flexible in terms of signing free agents and extending current contracts. It also signifies the Red Sox being committed to changing their culture, and also admitting they may have made a mistake signing many players to longterm, large-sum contracts. With the trade they have freed up money to be much more flexible this off-season with their money.
They are now in a position where they could extend Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term contract if they felt he was capable of playing at the level he did all of last season and staying healthy. This also increases the chances David Ortiz is re-signed. By losing Gonzalez and Crawford the team will be pressured to make up for their losses offensively and by the way Ortiz has swung the bat this season it is likely he would be retained.
The team could also sign a top free agent pitcher if they wanted to improve on their starting rotation. As of now they have Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront as definite starters next season. John Lackey is also very likely to be involved, with the fifth starter remaining to be seen. With money to spend the could go out and spend money on a proven starting pitcher, or if they feel De La Rosa is good enough they could stick with him.
By losing Gonzalez and Crawford, it does create voids at first base and in left field, but with the money the team is saving on the two players they can go out and replace the two. It is unlikely the Red Sox would retain Loney (first base), who is due to be a free agent following the season.
A name already being rumored in connection with the Red Sox this offseason is Josh Hamilton. That is not the direction the team is going -- this trade signals the team is committed to scouting and developing talent, rather than spending large sums of money on big-name free agents.
This deal is one of the more fascinating trades in recent memory with the Red Sox and raises more questions than gives answers. What does this mean for Bobby Valentine, a manager who prefers managing younger teams and does better with younger players, could he be returning? Did Larry Lucchino give general manager Ben Cherington complete control to make such a bold move? If he did, it was an outstanding job by Cherington.
No matter what the answers to these questions are one thing is certain, the Red Sox organization admitted they had issues with their payroll and culture and took a dramatic first step in fixing it. Look on the bright side, it is almost impossible for 2013 to be any worse than 2012.