By Travis Vandenbrand
The Dodgers and the Red Sox caught a lot of people off guard last week with one of the biggest trades in recent memory. The Red Sox sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for James Loney, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster.
Fresh under new ownership, the Dodgers have put the rest of the MLB on notice that they are serious contenders this year and beyond. The four players they received from the Sox are proven veterans who have roles that will compliment the existing landscape of the Dodgers line-up. Prior to the blockbuster deal that was announced last Saturday, the Dodgers went out and grabbed lead-off hitter Shane Victorino and converted third baseman Hanley Ramirez. LA also has Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier as their corner outfielders and run-producing stars already.
Adrian Gonzalez is a prototypical clean-up hitter and fits the 4-hole in the Dodgers line-up perfectly. He has had a few monstrous seasons alread and he is still only 30 years old. As mentioned in a previous Athlete’s Angle article, he crushed a homerun in his first at bat with the Dodgers. Get used to it LA, you will be seeing that power stroke a lot. If LA can squeak into the playoffs, the top of their line-up could boast a sequence of Victorino, Matt Ellis, Kemp, Gonzalez, Ramirez and Ethier. Those are six hitters that absolutely no rival pitcher wants to face consecutively.
Josh Beckett adds a veteran presence to the Dodger’s rotation and he is a proven winner. Beckett is a 3-time all star who proved he was clutch in the 2007 playoffs. He had a lot success early in his career which makes it surprising that he is still only 32 years old. Beckett has had a rough season this year but the Dodgers are hoping they can revive his career on the west coast.
Nick Punto is a super utility player who can play any infield position very well. Every playoff team needs quality utility players that can come off the bench at any time to pinch hit or to play defense. Punto may get an opportunity to platoon at third and second base for the remainder of the year.
The Carl Crawford addition is a move for the future as he has been placed on the diasabled list after undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery (elbow). Crawford will provide a spark at the top of the Dodger’s line-up next season but will just be an expensive cheerleader for the rest of the 2012 season. Unless the Dodgers can be creative, the move should also signify a very brief stay for Victorino in LA as he will probably be the odd man out next year and he will be a free agent.
According to the Boston Herald, the Dodgers also received $12 million to help pay for some of the salaries leaving Boston. However, the Dodgers still took on over $200 million worth of long-term contracts for the four players they added.
The Red Sox received one major leaguer, four prospects and plethora of salary cap relief going into next season. James Loney was the only established big leaguer that they acquired in the trade, but he might have the shortest stay as a member of the Red Sox. He is a light hitting first baseman who usually hits for decent average. There is no room in Boston for a light hitting first baseman. Loney will be a free agent at the end of the season and I believe he will not be returning.
Ivan DeJesus Jr is a 25 year old infielder who looks like he will project as a utility/defensive specialist. He has limited offensive potential but he can play all infield positions. It appears that he is a similar player to Nick Punto but a decade younger. He will add depth to the young shortstop competition for next year.
Jerry Sands is a 24 year old outfielder/first base prospect. He was one of the “players to be named later’ so he can stay in the Dodger’s system and contribute for the remainder of the year. Sands has shown remarkable power in AAA and his ceiling in the majors could be a run-producing corner outfielder. He had no room to advance in LA so he’ll find himself fighting to make the Red Sox roster next spring.
The other “player to be named later” is 23 year old righty, Rubby De La Rosa. Along with Sands, he could turn out to be the best player in this trade. De La Rosa is coming off a Tommy John surgery, but his ceiling could be front of the rotation and possibly as high as a number 2 starter.
The final piece of the deal is 22 year old righty, Allen Webster. MLB.com ranks Webster as the third best prospect in the Red Sox system. He’s been a strikeout pitcher in the minors but he has an electric fastball and sinker that could turn him into a ground ball out type pitcher. Webster projects as a middle of the rotation pitcher.
The Red Sox recieved a few quality prospects in the massive trade but what could be the most valuable addition is the $200 + million of salary space. Expect the Sox to be major players in the free agent market again this offseason. With names like Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, BJ Upton, Shane Victorino, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Mike Napoli hitting the market in 2013, there should be no surprise if the Sox make more major splashes this coming winter.
The Red Sox have conceded the 2012 season to the Yankees but make no mistake, this is no rebuild. This is a brief re-tooling for what will be a huge division push in 2013.
As always, I am interested to hear what you think. Leave a comment below.