Last night rumors were running wild about a blockbuster deal taking place between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. The potential deal started gaining steam two days ago when Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox was put on waivers and claimed by a mysterious team. Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times crafted out an almost impossible trade scenario which centered not only involved Gonzalez, but also had Boston sending Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers. If you are paying attention, that is over $270 Million worth of contracts that Boston would be trying to unload. Seems impossible to complete right?
While pulling off a trade of this magnitude would be near impossible to pull off, where there is a will there is always a way. In order for a trade of this magnitude to go through, all three of the Red Sox players would have to clear waivers. They would have to go through every team in the American League as well as every National League team with a worse record than the Dodgers. You have to figure that no one would really want to claim any of those players out of fear of being stuck with those ugly contracts. Beckett and Crawford would have been easy enough to sneak through waivers, especially with Crawford needing Tommy John surgery which will keep him out of the entire 2013 season. But Gonzalez, while costly, is a very talented player who any number of teams would have been interested in claiming, even with that contract. The question is, why would the Red Sox want to trade Gonzalez? The answer, sometimes you need to get rid of some gold if you want to unload a few years of trash.
Surprisingly all three of them, along with fellow Red Sox player Nick Punto, cleared waivers and are all involved in the trade to the Dodgers. In return for these four, the Dodgers will be sending James Loney and four minor league players Allen Webster (who the Chicago Cubs wanted in any trade), Ivan De Jesus, Jerry Sands, and Rubby De La Rosa. If you read the article by Dilbeck (linked earlier in the blog) he correctly predicted the full trade (minus De Jesus and Punto). What he was not sure about, was how much money the Red Sox would have to eat in this deal.
With Loney making $6.375 Million this year (free agent at the end of the year) and the remaining players the Dodgers are sending being minor leaguers, there is very little money headed back to Boston. On the other side of the deal, (as mentioned earlier) the four players heading out West are owed over $270 Million. You would have to imagine that the Red Sox are eating a large amount of that complete the deal and get back such touted prospects as are reported. You would be correct in these assumptions, the Red Sox are eating some of that money. As a matter of fact, they are eating a grand total of $12 million in order to complete the trade.
I know what you are thinking, why on earth would the Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti and ownership group led by Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter be crazy enough to agree to this trade? The answer wherein lies within the waiver process. If they were dumb enough to actually claim every single one of these players to ensure that the trade could be made (which appears to be the case), they left themselves open for a world of hurt and Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington knows that.
Either the Dodgers agree to the terms that Cherington and the Red Sox lay out there, and give them everything they want, or the Red Sox break off trade talks and say take them the players, along with all that money. With the wavier rules as they are written, that is a very distinct possibility. The Red Sox would lose out on the prospects of the proposed deal but would be saving themselves all that money. This is a big win for the Red Sox, but how much of a win is this for the Dodgers?
The question the Dodgers need to ask, is saving $12 Million worth giving up four prospects who might be Major League busts and a pitcher headed to free agency, worthwhile when they will likely get the players they want either way? Is taking on $258 Million over the next four years for a slight chance at winning the World Series this year worth the risk? The Dodgers risk putting themselves into financial Hell all for a shot which might wind up burning them in the end. Much like what former Cubs General manager Jim Hendry and former President John McDonough thought when they went on the spending spree before the 2007 season, if the end result is a World Series Championship, the fans will not care about the final years of these deals when the players may or may not be producing to the contract level they were signed.
What fans need to remember, the Dodgers acquiring all these players and all this money does not guarantee them anything; not this year and not for the four years to come. Remember, Crawford is out for all of this season as well as most (if not all) of next season. Which might lead some to question why the Dodgers would make any trade that involves him. That is simple, sometimes you need to take what appears to be trash if you want some gold like Gonzalez. Beckett is not having a great season this year, but perhaps moving back to the easier National League might turn back the hands of time on his career and he can see some success. But the San Francisco Giants are a formidable team (even with the loss of Melky Cabrera) and will be hard to pass up. Granted, the Dodgers are only three games back, but three games at this late stage is fairly tough to overcome. Yes, there are several instances where that has been done, but there are no short cuts.
If Cub fans want something to take out of this blockbuster deal, here you go. There will always be a team desperate enough to take on just about any contract if they think that player will get them over the hump and win them a World Series Championship. If the Red Sox can con the Dodgers into taking on Crawford if they want the right to trade for Gonzalez and Beckett, the Cubs can surely find a sucker willing to take on Alfonso Soriano and his remaining $38 Million this coming off season. The difference is the Cubs will not have the ability to just give him away without eating any of the contract, but stranger things have happened.
Remember, there is a sucker born every minute.