The Boston Red Sox need to do something drastic to have any reasonable chance at even making the second wild card spot this season.
The first thing to consider is contract status.
Beckett is in the middle of a four year, $68 million contract. He will be a free agent in 2015. Johnson is in a four year, $39 million contract. He will be a free agent in 2014.
Beckett is 5-8, with a 4.53 ERA in 101.1 innings pitched. This year Johnson is 6-7, with a 4.14 ERA in 119.2 innings pitched.
Although their numbers are similar, trading Beckett now would be a huge shakeup for the Red Sox. The Red Sox should not wait until July 31st—the trade deadline—to make this deal happen. This is something that should get done now.
A shakeup is something the Red Sox sorely need. They have been incredibly mediocre this season. And while the Red Sox are not a bad team, they are not a great team either. They hover in the horrible grey area of mediocrity.
The team gives Red Sox fans hope for a week, just to rip it away the following week.
If the the Red Sox traded Beckett, the entire clubhouse would change. The face of the negativity that has surrounded this team last season would be gone.
In short, this deal is more about trading Beckett than acquiring Johnson. The fact Johnson has shown flashes of brilliance in his career is simply the sugar on top of this trade scenario.
The Red Sox would be assuming a health risk with Johnson. His pitching shoulder limited his availability in 2011. He was only able to pitch 60.1 innings last season.
But Johnson is worth the risk. When healthy, Johnson has ace like stuff. The same could be said of Beckett, but his time with the Red Sox has taken a turn for the worse.
The chicken and beer drama has been well documented. His ill-timed golf outing also received a lot of attention.
It is the golf outing that reignited the controversy surrounding Beckett this season.
Beckett had lat discomfort and missed a start, but still felt good enough to play golf on his off day.
Shouldn't you exercise a little discretion? I mean, you already have the beer and fried chicken stigma. You didn't tell your manager about the lat discomfort before he left you in for 126 pitches. Then you have to skip a start. And then you play golf?
The feelings surrounding Beckett really have not fully gone away this season. Beckett is 32 years old and may still have a few good seasons left in him. But those seasons may come in a different ballpark.
Beckett is still a big-name pitcher and started his career in Florida. The Red Sox may have to eat part of his contract to make a deal like this happen, but it is worth it.
Johnson is a 28-year-old health risk who may still prove to be an ace.
Both sides would assume some risk in this scenario. But it is a risk both sides should strongly consider.