Well, this night certainly got interesting in a hurry. As first reported by Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed in principle to a historic, blockbuster trade.
The Red Sox would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers in exchange for James Loney, Ivan De Jesus, Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands, as well as pitching prospect Allen Webster.
However, there are several technical details that need to be figured out, such as pending physicals, the waiving of no-trade clauses and the exact financial arrangements, before the deal is official.
On Friday afternoon, news broke that Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett had been claimed off waivers and awarded to the Dodgers. Now, in less than a day, the baseball world has seemingly been turned on its head.
For the Red Sox, the goal behind such a monster trade is obvious: Clear payroll, immediately. What better way to accomplish that than deal the highest-paid players?
According to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Gonzalez has $109.3 million remaining on his contract through the 2017 season.
Crawford, who miss the remainder of this season and likely part of the 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, is owed $106.8 million through 2017 as well.
Beckett, who’s only signed through the 2014 season, is owed $34 million over the remainder of his contract.
For those of you who can’t do simple math and had to use a calculator, the Red Sox would be eradicating slightly over $250 million from their payroll.
But enough with the math. Let’s talk about the prospects—more so, the prospect—that the team has acquired. I’m selectively omitting James Loney from the rest of this article because, well, he’s James Loney.
Although all are young players with limited big-league experience, neither Sands nor De La Rosa is technically a prospect. Each player has previously met the requirements for rookie status (130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched). De Jesus achieved such status this season in his second stint with the Dodgers.
OF/1B Jerry Sands
Drafted in the 25th round of the 2008 MLB first-year player draft out of Division II program Catawba College in North Carolina, Sands was the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year in 2010 after posting a .981 OPS with 35 home runs across two levels.
A right-handed hitter, Sands, 24, has plus raw power to all fields thanks to a lofty bat path and physical strength at 6'4", 225 pounds. He’s a streaky hitter who isn’t afraid to draw a walk but has a tendency to make weak contact too often.
Even though he possesses slightly below average speed, he moves well once he gets going and has decent range for a corner outfielder of his size. His arm is kind of fringy but would still be more than enough to handle left field at Fenway Park.
From a physical standpoint, Sands’ game is similar to that of Red Sox Double-A outfielder Bryce Brentz. They both have undeniable raw power as well as the propensity to get themselves out but seem capable of providing at least average production as a corner outfielder. Therefore, his acquisition may have ruined Brentz’s small chance of being a September call-up.
RHP Rubby De La Rosa
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, it took De La Rosa three years to graduate from rookie ball. However, since then he has moved quickly through the Dodgers’ system, even bypassing Triple-A last season on his ascent to the major leagues.
Appearing in 13 games for the Dodgers in 2011, the 23-year-old right-hander registered a 3.71 ERA, 8.90 K/9 and 4.60 BB/9 over 60.2 innings. Unfortunately, his rookie campaign came to an abrupt halt after he injured his right elbow and required season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Returning from the injury ahead of schedule, De La Rosa was called up by the Dodgers on August 22, when he allowed two earned runs and issued two walks in only two-thirds of an inning.
Prior to the surgery, the right-hander featured a fastball that sat in the mid-90s and often scraped triple digits. His secondary arsenal consists of a slider and changeup—the latter being the more advanced of the two. I’m interested to see the depth and sharpness of the slider now that he’s seemingly close to full strength.
Although there’s not a lot left to project in the 5’11”, 205-pounder, there’s still considerable upside. We’ll see whether the Red Sox thrust him back into a starting role or let him regain a feel for the strike zone out of the bullpen.
IF Ivan De Jesus
Drafted out of Puerto Rico in the second round of the 2005 draft, it took the 25-year-old five seasons to finally reach the major leagues in 2011. Granted, he did miss basically the entire 2009 season after breaking his leg during spring training.
Appearing in 17 games in his 2011 cup of coffee with the Dodgers, the right-handed hitter batted .188/.235/.188 with six hits and 11 strikeouts in 32 at-bats. This season, De Jesus batted .273/.324/.364 in 33 at-bats with the Dodgers, therefore earning official rookie status.
The son of 15-year big-league veteran Ivan De Jesus Sr., he has a simple, line-drive-oriented swing that allows him to spray the ball to all fields. His best attribute is easily his plate discipline, as he’s always demonstrated advanced on-base skills. His speed has deteriorated since the injury, though he was never particularly fast to begin with.
Capable of playing multiple infield positions, De Jesus’ defensive actions and fringy range profile best at second base. Given his limited upside, it’s hard to see him as anything more than an organizational player or a reserve infielder.
RHP Allen Webster
A 6’3”, 185-pound right-hander, Webster was drafted in the 18th round (No. 547 overall) of the 2008 draft as a high school shortstop. Since being converted into a starting pitcher, he has blossomed into one of the team’s top prospects.
Webster, 22, enjoyed a breakout season in 2010, when he was 12-9 with a 2.88 ERA, 7.81 K/9 and 3.63 BB/9 over 131.1 innings at Low-A Great Lakes of the Midwest League.
After a strong start to the 2011 season at High-A, he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga, where he understandably struggled, registering a 5.04 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 91 innings.
Repeating the level this season, the right-hander has made adjustments and continues to improve, as evidenced by his 3.55 ERA and 8.65 K/9 in 121.2 innings.
When he’s around the zone and pitching efficiently, Webster features an arsenal of at least above-average offerings.
Employing an easy, repeatable delivery, his fastball reaches 96-97 mph with sinking action, although he’s more effective in the 91-95 mph range. The pitch also generates a ton of ground-ball outs—he owns a career 2.18 GB/FB rate in 485 minor league innings.
Webster has a curveball and slider, both of which flash plus depth and shape when thrown well. This season, the right-hander has improved his arm speed on his changeup, a pitch that registers in the low-80s with exceptional late fade and is arguably his best off-speed pitch.
Given his history as a position player, Webster’s arm is still fresh and untaxed relative to most pitching prospects his age. He’s likely a year away from reaching the major leagues; a spot in the 2014 rotation is conceivable. In Webster, the Red Sox have acquired a pitching prospect on the rise with the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Possessing a dearth of position prospects, Webster was one of several highly regarded Dodgers pitching prospects poised to reach the major leagues by 2014—namely, RHP Zach Lee, LHP Chris Reed, RHP Matt Magill and RHP Garrett Gould.
Webster was arguably the more advanced prospect of the group, so his departure has the potential to accelerate their respective big-league debuts.