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Kind of a big deal

August 29, 2012
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Red Sox, Dodgers make massive trade

Any doubts the Boston faithful may have had about 2012 being a lost season have officially been eliminated.

In one of the biggest money trades in baseball history, the Red Sox sent pitcher Josh Beckett, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford and utility player Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package of first baseman James Loney and four minor leaguers: pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, infielder Ivan DeJesus and outfielder Jerry Sands.

The Red Sox will also pay between $10 and $12 million of the over $260 million in salary still owed to Beckett, Gonzalez and Crawford.

This is the first deal in major league history where two players with $100+ million remaining on their contracts have been sent to the same team.

The 2012 outlook for the Red Sox has been grim for some time. The team has been dealing with wave after wave of turmoil, with whispers of clubhouse mutiny and a generally unlikeable vibe permeating the team. It was clear that a change was needed, though few could have expected such a big, bold move especially after the July 31st trade deadline had passed.

Make no mistake: this deal was for the Dodgers about getting their hands on Adrian Gonzalez. He's a Southern California native who spent most of his career before Boston with San Diego, so there's a familiarity there, as well as an appeal for L.A.'s massive Latino fan base. Taking on the onerous contracts of the underachieving Beckett and the injury-prone Crawford were just part of the cost of doing business. With a new billion-dollar television contract on the way, the Dodgers are unafraid to spend big to win now especially if they can get a face-of-the-franchise player like Gonzalez.

But the Red Sox come out of this in surprisingly, almost shockingly good shape. While James Loney is essentially a replacement-level player, he's still only 28; the change of scenery could well energize him. Webster and De La Rosa both look like possible big-league starting pitchers, while Sands and DeJesus could prove to be valuable parts in the Sox batting order. It's always a gamble with minor league players, but if even one of these guys turns into a legitimate major league player, it's a win for Boston.

Of course, the biggest win of all can be found on the bottom line. For the Red Sox to work this deal so that they're only paying off 5% of the outstanding contracts is astonishing especially since they got some genuine young talent in the deal as well. This frees them up to remake the team into something a bit more harmonious for 2013 and beyond. Maybe they give Jacoby Ellsbury a big extension. Maybe they sign a Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke to a free agent deal. Regardless, Red Sox GM Ben Cherrington and company have given themselves the opportunity to fix something that was very obviously broken.

As a fan, you never like to see a white flag trade by your favorite team. That said it appears that Boston and Los Angeles have somehow managed (at least as it appears now) that rarest of feats a win-win trade.

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