I take back everything I’ve said about Ben Cherington this season. Well…maybe not everything, but this monster trade has more than made up for some of his rookie mistakes. He figured out how to get $275M worth of bad payroll (and luxury taxes) off of his books, and possibly more important, a ton of bad blood out of his locker room.
Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto are now Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox got one of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects in return, along with a summer rental of James Loney at first base, and not much else. But the big deal here is that they’ve recognized some of the bad deals this team has made in the past, and figured out a way to fix it. Not to mention that these were some of the guys leading the charge to push Bobby Valentine out the door – locker room cancer, and not much on-field productivity. Although Valentine was not Cherington’s first choice at Manager, this move would lead me to believe that Valentine will be back for a 2nd season next year, and I think the Red Sox would be doing themselves a disservice make a change after this season.
This trade clears a ton of salary space for the Sox to do some heavy damage in free agency this year. The free agency crop is not loaded with stars, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they went heavy after some of the bigger names out there, especially now that they have so many holes to fill. Nick Swisher would be a perfect candidate, and as much as it would pain me to see that happen as a Yankee fan, Swish will command top dollar this offseason, and the Sox are in a much better position to spend on long term deals than the Yankees are. The free agency pool is strong in pitching though. Guys like Zack Grienke, Francisco Liriano, Edwin Jackson, and Jonathan Broxton would be a huge upgrade in Boston, and all of them are young enough to make a long term impact.
Let’s not forget about the Dodgers on this side of the deal. The Red Sox are the obvious winners, but this is a good deal for the Dodgers too. They’re close enough in the playoff race that a few more pieces (like Gonzalez’ bat in the middle of the lineup) can potentially push them over the top. Major League Baseball is also a huge winner here. The Dodgers have been a financial mess for years, and now that they’re under new ownership, they’ve aggressively pursued trades and taken on big contracts as soon as this new group has been in place. Let’s not forget how rough this lineup looked at the beginning of the season, featuring Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and not much more. Since April, they’ve added Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Adrian Gonzalez to their core, and Crawford adds upside for next season (maybe to replace the soon to be free agent Victorino).
If this deal helps push the Dodgers towards the World Series, this deal can potentially be one of the best in history for both sides. From a fan perspective, I think everyone walks away a winner here. Although it may be disappointing for Sox fans to lose Gonzo, this gives them a tremendous opportunity to invest in good deals rather than continuing to throw more bad money on bad deals.
I don’t say this often, but nicely done, Boston.