When the Los Angeles Dodgers were awarded a waiver claim on Adrian Gonzalez on Friday afternoon, hardly anybody raised an eyebrow. We all thought it was standard procedure, gauging the trade market for Gonzo when the off season arrives. But then, Josh Beckett was claimed by the same LA Dodgers, and Gonzo was subsequently scratched from the line-up for Boston’s game against the Royals, and it became apparent that this was a part of something much more than standard procedure. 24 hours later, the two sides have agreed to a deal that will send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to LA in exchange for Major League first baseman James Loney, pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, infield prospect Ivan De Jesus and Minor League outfielder Jerry Sands. The LA Times reports that the Dodgers were originally interested only in Gonzalez, the power-hitting, gold glove first baseman who grew up in Southern California, but the Red Sox demanded that they take Beckett and Crawford with him. The Red Sox are, essentially, throwing in the towel on the 2012 season by making this deal. But more importantly, they are making a statement. Beckett has been the scapegoat for the Sox since last September’s “Chicken & Beergate” debacle. He has been the centerpiece of a tumultuous clubhouse, and he needed to go. On that front, it was the end of a culture in the Red Sox clubhouse. No longer will a sense of false entitlement be tolerated by the Red Sox organization.
But how does trading Gonzalez help the Red Sox, you might ask? Well, to be blunt, it’s probably going to hurt them this year more than it will help them. But this trade was not about improving the team in the short term. It represents the end of the Theo Epstein era. Boston has rid themselves of two of their three worst contracts on the current payroll (The third being John Lackey, who now becomes the highest paid player on the Sox roster in 2012). Something about this trade says that the Red Sox are through with bad contracts. They now have the financial flexibility to re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury after his contract expires at the end of 2012, and to go after some help in the starting rotation. Loney becomes a free agent after this year, so look for the Red Sox to seek help at first base as well. This move is exactly what the Red Sox needed, not only to clean up the clubhouse, but to show that they are still in touch with the fans. For the duration of the 2012 season, the fan base has been belittled by ownership, and taken for granted by Red Sox brass. With this deal, the Red Sox have taken a giant step in the right direction.
For the Dodgers, this trade doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yes, they got their man in Gonzalez, but was it really worth taking on an excess of 200 million dollars on the payroll? Especially when you consider the fact that nobody knows when Crawford is going to be able to play again, and not only is Beckett past his prime, he is a cancer to a clubhouse. In essence, the Dodgers have taken the core of an underachieving Red Sox team, and expect it to make them a juggernaut for the next seven years. If they couldn’t produce in Boston, they won’t in Los Angeles. The new ownership of the Dodgers is trying to make a splash by signing the biggest names possible to lure in more fans. Newsflash: You are not the Yankees. There is only one evil empire, and they don’t wear royal blue. The fact that the Dodgers were willing to take on Beckett and Crawford just to get Gonzalez shows that this ownership group is not exactly baseball savvy. But you won’t get any complaints from the East Coast about that.