ESPN is reporting that the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are “closing in” on a deal that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for James Loney and multiple prospects.
This would obviously be a monstrous deal with vast implications for both the short and long-term prospects of both teams, but this could be a huge boon for the Sox.
Presumably, the spending-happy Dodgers would be assuming the bulk of the remaining $261 million owed to Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford in 2013 and beyond. This would free the Red Sox from their three most crippling contracts, and would allow the team to completely retool their roster.
Losing Gonzalez, who has returned to form in the second half after struggling initially this year, would be the only major subtraction from the current team. Given that the Sox gave up two top prospects (Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly) in order to get him, it’s surprising to see the Sox wanting to ship the slugging third baseman out of town already.
Crawford never really got going in Boston, enjoying his most productive stretch during his 31 games this season where he hit .306 with five steals and a .785 OPS. His good start this year was marred by continued elbow trouble, though, and last Thursday he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Beckett has been the center of controversy this year, and he has done himself no favors with his performance on the field. A 5-11 record and 5.23 ERA make him the worst starter in the Sox rotation, and getting his remaining $31.5 million contract off the books has become a priority.
This deal would be a major win for the Red Sox. It has become clear this season that the team as presently structured is simply not good enough to win a World Series. With that lofty standard being the only one that matters in Boston, GM Ben Cherington is smart to blow things up and rid the team of the onerous contracts that would hold them back going into future seasons.
An overhaul would also put other players on notice that everybody is expendable, lending a sense of urgency to a team that has sorely needed it. Adding some flexibility to the payroll (it would free up $56.25 million next year alone) would also allow the Sox to pursue marquee free agents in the offseason.
This is a quickly developing situation that bears watching, but the Sox would be wise to accept the prospects in this deal and begin to rebuild what has become a broken team.