The biggest August trade in the history of Major League Baseball has officially gone down. As such, the power structures in the NL West and AL East have gotten a significant shakeup.
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was the first to report a potential blockbuster deal between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto packing to Southern California.
Because, you know, Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Brandon League and Joe Blanton weren't already enough.
The trade wasn't yet finalized when most of us headed to bed on late Friday night, but with Adrian Gonzalez in the Dodgers lineup and Nick Punto tweeting from inside the L.A. plane, we knew all hurdles had been hopped. The Dodgers, themselves, made things "officially official" via Twitter
OFFICIAL: @dodgers today acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto and cash from the Boston Red Sox.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 25, 2012
The Red Sox, on the other hand, received a modest return and are left with a shell of the team that went from immortalized heroism to selfish clubhouse disaster.
Not an overly impressive collection of names, to be sure. But for the Red Sox, this deal is less about what they're getting in return and more about the money they no longer have to pay Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford.
Now that no-trades have been thrown out, medicals have been passed and the hundreds of millions in salaries have been divvied up, both teams can move on to their new and very different futures.
It's time to break down the winners and the losers.
Note: All stats come from Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
At the trade deadline, the Dodgers added one player who's a former batting champion and a three-time All-Star. They then added another who's a two-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner and a former world champion. They also added a former All-Star closer and a former world-champion starting pitcher shortly after the deadline passed.
If their trade with the Red Sox goes through, they'll be getting even more decorated players.
Gonzalez is a four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner who nearly won the AL batting title in 2011. Beckett is a three-time All-Star and former Cy Young runner-up who has been a difference maker in two different World Series with two different teams. Crawford is a four-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner who led the AL in stolen bases four times.
And Nick Punto is, well, Nick Punto. He's a jack of all trades and a master of none, and players like that always come in handy.
I shall now put on my Captain Obvious mask and say this: This trade will make the Dodgers a better team.
And not just this year, but next year and the year after that, too. Gonzalez is an immediate upgrade at first base over James Loney who is signed through 2018, and Beckett is an immediate rotation upgrade who is signed through 2014. Crawford won't play this season, but he'll be patrolling left field for the Dodgers in 2013 and every year after through 2017.
The Dodgers are set up for a deep run through October this year, and they're set up to make a few more October runs after this season.
They weren't set up for either as recently as a month ago. Hats off.
Oh, those poor Giants. No matter what they do, the Dodgers just keep doing more.
The Giants did well to save face at the trade deadline by pulling off a trade for Hunter Pence, but there's no denying that the Dodgers made more improvements at the deadline than the Giants did. They acquired a bigger volume of players, obviously, and the players they acquired have at least been more productive than Pence.
And now they stand to get an impact first baseman, an impact starting pitcher and a useful utility infielder for the stretch run.
It's debatable now whether the Dodgers have more talent than the Giants. In fact, the Giants deserve the benefit of the doubt in that discussion seeing as how they just swept the Dodgers in their own backyard.
But if this deal with the Red Sox goes down and the Dodgers get Gonzalez, Beckett and Punto with Crawford waiting in the wings for 2013?
There will be no more argument. On paper, the Dodgers will be a better team than the Giants.
This doesn't mean they'll be destined to overtake the Giants in the NL West, mind you. The games aren't played on paper, and the Giants have to feel pretty comfortable with the lead they've built up. Besides, it's not like they'll be quivering in fear every time they see Dodger blue.
They will know, however, that the game has changed.
Yeah, the Red Sox won this trade, too.
Granted, maybe not as much as the Dodgers won it, but the Red Sox certainly didn't lose this trade.
Is a lot of talent going out the door? Yes. Not so much in the form of Beckett, but Gonzalez and Crawford are both in their prime and neither will be easy to replace.
But is enough talent coming back the other way? Yes. Allen Webster is a top pitching prospect, and Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus and Rubby De La Rosa are players the Red Sox will be able to use.
More importantly, has a lot of money been cleared?
Oh my, yes.
If this trade goes down, the Red Sox are going to clear over $260 million (h/t Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports) in salaries. Two hundred and sixty million dollars.
It's too soon to say whether the Red Sox are going to use this money to go on an offseason spending spree. Honestly, given their recent track record with high-priced free agents, they probably won't.
But let's face it. An organization as rich and as powerful as the Red Sox isn't going to leave $260 million lying around forever. This trade is a prelude to something big for them.
And hey, if all else fails, at least the Red Sox got rid of Beckett.
In the Battle for Los Angeles, the Angels had all the momentum this past offseason. While the Dodgers were still in no man's land with their ownership situation, the Angels went out and signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to monster contracts, thus declaring themselves World Series favorites and the true king on the Southern California throne.
Fast-forward to now, and the Angels are a bunch of overpaid underachievers whose only real redeeming quality is baseball demigod Mike Trout.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, are swimming in cash thanks to their new owners, and they're drawing talented players to Chavez Ravine from all over baseball. Their luring power is at least twice as potent as that of the Death Star's tractor beam (and more stylish, too).
Yeah, you could say the tide has turned. Just when the Angels thought they had done enough to win the hearts and minds of the citizens of Los Angeles, the Dodgers start making it rain and putting together a truly great baseball team.
They're basically the same as the Lakers, and I've been led to believe that L.A. is rather fond of the Lakers.
Directly or indirectly, the Dodgers have sent a message to the Angels, one that is very easy to decipher:
"L.A. is our turf."
The Red Sox desperately needed to get rid of Josh Beckett, and Josh Beckett desperately needed to get out of Boston. Their relationship took a turn for the worse this past offseason, and it only got worse as the year progressed.
Well, Beckett is on the verge of being out now, and it's hard to imagine a more perfect destination for him than Los Angeles.
With the kind of stuff he has these days, the National League is the right place for Beckett. He should do fine against the NL's weak lineups. Far better than he was doing against AL lineups, anyway.
To boot, Dodger Stadium should be much kinder to Beckett than Fenway Park, a place where Beckett has a 5.26 ERA this season. He's more of a fly-ball pitcher at this point than he has been in some time, and this tendency will play a lot better at Dodger Stadium than it does at Fenway Park.
To illustrate, Fenway Park is the eighth-best park to hit home runs in this season, according to ESPN.com. Dodger Stadium is the 21st-best.
He's only made two starts at Dodger Stadium in his career, but Beckett managed to compile a 2.70 ERA in those two starts.
Yeah, he'll like it there. He'll also like pitching at AT&T Park and Petco Park.
I'll also go out on a limb and guess that he won't be getting booed every time he takes the mound at Dodger Stadium. Not at first, at least.
For the Dodgers, Adrian Gonzalez is a huge upgrade over James Loney at first base. No question about it.
But for Gonzalez, going from the Red Sox to the Dodgers won't be so great.
Gonzalez is in a perfect situation in Boston. He seems to be kind of on the fence about the city and the atmosphere that comes with being a member of the Red Sox, but Fenway Park may as well have been custom-designed for his swing. He has an .860 OPS at Fenway this season, and an .898 OPS at Fenway for his career.
At Dodger Stadium, he has a career OPS of .676 and a career batting average of .212.
There's no Green Monster out in left field at Chavez Ravine, nor is there a short porch protected by Pesky's Pole. There are only miles and miles of outfield grass between the infield and the dull, normally shaped fences that stand about 600 feet away from home plate.
AT&T Park is similar in many regards, and Gonzalez knows all about Petco Park.
He'll still put up good numbers, mind you. Just don't be surprised if the home runs aren't there.
If you want to know how to prepare for that eventuality, Dodgers fans, just consult Red Sox fans. They'll fill you in on what it feels like to watch Gonzalez not go yard.
Carl Crawford won't be able to enjoy this trade right away if it goes down. He'll have to wait until next season, as he's on the shelf for the foreseeable future after undergoing Tommy John surgery this week.
Even still, it's not hard to imagine him jumping for joy as soon as this trade is finalized. You won't get him to admit it, but an exodus from Boston will be a dream come true for him.
The Red Sox and Crawford were never a great fit. The Red Sox signed him knowing they didn't have an obvious spot for him in their lineup, and they signed him despite knowing that his offensive game was a bad fit for Fenway Park.
We shouldn't be so surprised that the trade turned out to be such a disaster. If this is the end for Crawford in Boston, he'll leave with a .260/.292/.419 triple-slash line to his name, not to mention just 23 stolen bases.
In Dodger blue, he'll be in a much better situation, which should lead to much better numbers.
There will be a spot for Crawford at the top of the Dodgers' lineup in 2013, and he should have little trouble taking advantage of the gaps that will be waiting for him at Dodger Stadium and every other NL West ballpark.
Plus, if ever there was a guy who simply needed a change of scenery, it's Crawford. Los Angeles could have the same effect on him that it had on Hanley Ramirez.
That's what the Dodgers are hoping for, obviously. They don't want a useless $100-million left fielder any more than the Red Sox want one.
As of this moment, in which the Boston-L.A. mega-deal is not yet final, the Dodgers don't have a long-term solution in left field.
They have one in center field, and a darn good one in 2011 NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp. He's one of the best in the business, and he's signed through 2019.
They have a long-term solution in right field, too. Andre Ethier is, at the very least, a reliable RBI man, and he's locked up through 2017 with a vesting option for 2018.
But in left field, all the Dodgers have is Shane Victorino, and his contract is up at the end of the season.
The Dodgers' lack of a long-term solution in left field is excellent news to this year's crop of free-agent outfielders, a group that includes Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton and Melky Cabrera. They'll be looking to be paid handsomely this offseason, and it's common knowledge that the Dodgers ripped off Fort Knox not that long ago (Source: my imagination).
But if Crawford comes aboard, this year's free-agent outfielders will have to cross the Dodgers off their lists of possible destinations.
They will do so while saying, "Rats!"
Or possibly something more profane.
Earlier, I noted that I was skeptical that the massive salary dump the Red Sox are about to pull off will actually lead to a big offseason spending spree. It's possible, but not likely.
They're far more likely to look to spend the money that they're about to free up on their own guys.
At the top of the list is Jacoby Ellsbury. It's been a rough year for him, but the Red Sox learned in 2011 that he has it in him to be the best player in baseball when he's healthy. That version of Ellsbury hasn't been there this season, but the Red Sox have to think he's still in there somewhere.
The dilemma is that Ellsbury is a free agent after the 2013 season. Worse, he's represented by human-money-magnet Scott Boras.
Before, these two realities pointed towards an inevitable exit from Boston for Ellsbury. Given the amount of money they have committed to the likes of Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett, there's simply not enough for the Red Sox to appease Ellsbury in a potential extension offer.
But if Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett were to be taken out of the picture...
Yeah, the Red Sox will have enough cash to offer Ellsbury a lucrative extension. Whether or not he'll accept it is anybody's guess, but the Red Sox can at least try.
They could also try to extend Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and they could look to use their newfound riches to re-sign Cody Ross and David Ortiz.
If the Red Sox do spend money this offseason, expect them to spend it on guys who are used to wearing the uniform already.
The biggest piece coming back to Boston in the proposed deal with the Dodgers is Allen Webster. Baseball America ranked him as the Dodgers' second-best prospect before the start of the season, and he's generally viewed as a pitcher who has a bright future in the major leagues.
So why is he a loser?
I'll put it this way; he's a loser for the exact opposite of all the reasons Beckett is a winner.
Webster tends to get rave reviews for his stuff, and that's great, but he knows as well as anyone that great stuff plays better in the National League and at Dodger Stadium than it does in the American League and at Fenway Park.
In the NL with the Dodgers, Webster could have eventually become a solid No. 2 behind Clayton Kershaw, which would have invariably led to many riches.
Now, he's looking at a future in the AL where he may have to settle for a life as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter, and he has to know that he's not going to be the best pitching prospect around once he heads east. That honor belongs to Matt Barnes, whom Baseball America has ranked as the No. 13 prospect in all of baseball.
Heading to Boston isn't a bad situation for Webster by any stretch of the imagination. He'll just be in a situation that's not as good as the one he had as a member of the Dodgers organization.
In the long run, it could cost him a few zeroes.
Baseball fans across America have one question to ask Dodgers fans right now:
Dude, do you guys realize how good you have it?
Dodgers fans have it pretty good right about now. The team was a broken down, cash-strapped bastion of buffoonery as recently as a year ago. Now, it's a team with an ownership group that's both rich and hungry for championships, and the team out on the field is very good and getting better seemingly everyday.
Oh, by the way, Dodger Stadium is about to get a long overdue facelift, too.
If all goes well, Dodgers fans will be having a few brews in a newly renovated stadium watching a star-studded team under the gaze of benevolent and powerful owners about a year from now.
Even Yankee fans will be jealous.
...OK, maybe not. But I know of at least one fanbase that will be.
A few days ago, I proposed a theory on Twitter that Red Sox fans may hate the Red Sox this season more than they hate the Yankees.
Nobody argued with me. Frankly, I didn't expect anyone to.
The 2012 Red Sox couldn't be more unlikable. Their biggest sin is being a bad team. Their second-biggest sin is being a bad team that insists on making things worse for itself both on and off the field.
From what I can tell, the general consensus among Red Sox fans is that this team needs to be blown up, and sooner rather than later.
If so, well, they're about to get their wish. If the trade with the Dodgers goes through, the explosives will have been detonated.
But this is not a good thing. It's a bittersweet thing, and the reason Red Sox fans are the losers in this equation is because they're probably going to be in for some hard times in the immediate future.
If the Red Sox are blown up, they will not be built back up again overnight. It will take time, probably more than one offseason's worth of time. It may take years.
Rebuilding cycles usually do. And make no mistake, that's what the Red Sox are staring at.
Will it be worth it in the end? Sure. But between now and then, there could be a lot of bad baseball in Boston.
So here's hoping the Red Sox have gotten used to what they've seen this year. The status quo could hold for a while.
If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.