“The Trade”

Staying on our Dodger Blue theme…

I peiced this together from various sources, including Gordon Edes and ESPN Boston.

On August 25, 2012, the Dodgers and Red Sox completed a 9-player deal which sent past-present-and probably future All Stars Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and (indepensible utilityman) Nick Punto to Los Angeles for the (until then) forever underperforming James Loney and four minor leaguers.

Traded Trio

Entering 2013, Gonzalez had $127 million remaining on his contract and Crawford had $102.5 million remaining. This was the first time in MLB history in which two players were involved in a trade with $100 million remaining on their contracts.

* Carl Crawford (via ESPNLA.com):  “That was one of the toughest times in my life, ever, from when I was a little kid, 1 year old. It definitely was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life to be traded over here. You make $20 million, but it’s not like they’re begging me to hit a home run every time I go up there, you know what I’m saying? It’s not like I need to go 5-for-5 every at-bat and, if I don’t, I’m considered the worst player on the planet.”

Jonny Gomes was a teammate of Carl Crawford with the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Red Sox outfielder said he can’t relate to where Crawford is coming from when he talks about about how “bad” he wants to beat his former team, the Red Sox.  “To tell you the truth, every team and organization and manager and GM I’ve left, I’ve left on good terms,’’ Gomes said. “I talk to ’em all, talk to a lot of ’em in the offseason, reach out to ’em all. No hard feelings against any of ’em. I’m grateful for the opportunity they gave me. The last thing I want to do is ‘try harder’ against my [former] teams. I try hard every night.’’

* Josh Beckett (via WEEI.com):  “It just got way too personal for me,” he said while rehabbing in the Dallas area. “It wasn’t just like, ‘Hey, you suck on the baseball field.’ It was now, ‘Hey, you’re a bad person.’ It was getting personal. It wasn’t even about baseball anymore. It was definitely time to make a change. I think everybody from the front office to the players recognized that, we’ve moved on and now here I am.”

The Red Sox are 84-80 since the deal (remember, part of that includes the Bobby Valentine regime), the Dodgers 91-70, with each in playoff position at the moment.

The financial impact
The Dodgers had a 2013 Opening Day payroll of $216.6M, the second-highest in MLB behind the Yankees ($228.8M). That was a significant increase from their 2012 Opening Day Payroll of $95.1M, which was 12th-highest in MLB.

The $121.5 million opening day payroll increase was easily the largest in baseball between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Next on the list is the Toronto Blue Jays, who increased their payroll by $42 million.

There’s still quite a bit of money left over on the contracts of the players the Dodgers acquired. Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett will be owed a combined $213 million after the 2013 season ends.

With those savings, the Red Sox were able to re-load in the offseason, spending more than $125M on impact free agents such as Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, David Ortiz, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, David Ross and Koji Uehara.

Victorino has posted 4.4 WAR this season, better than any player the Red Sox sent to the Dodgers has performed this season.

The star: Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez at FirstOf the five major-leaguers involved in the trade, Gonzalez has been the most valuable for his team this year, with 3.3 Wins Above Replacement. Gonzalez’s value has come in the form of big hits. He has six game-tying or go-ahead hits in the seventh inning or later, the most of anyone on the team. Gonzalez rates fourth in the majors and second in the National League in Win Probability Added, a stat that sums the value of every plate appearance (and stolen base/caught stealing, based on how much it adds to that team’s chance of winning). The only players who rate higher than Gonzalez are Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt.

Though Gonzalez has provided value, his power numbers are still not to the level that they were from 2009 to 2011 (and, by his own admittance after his arrival in L.A., probably never will be the same following his shoulder surgery while a member of the Padres).  Gonzalez had a .536 slugging percentage and .231 isolated power (extra-bases per at-bat) over those three seasons. The last two seasons, those numbers are .460 and .162.

* Adrian Gonzalez (via ESPNLA.com):  “For the most part, we underperformed last year in Boston and we didn’t win. The year before, we won. We just didn’t make it to the postseason at the end. I had a good time. The only things I had there weren’t really a big deal.”

Nick Punto
Both Crawford and PuntoBeckett have dealt with significant injuries that have been hindrances to their value. But another player has been a surprise contributor.Punto has been worth 1.9 Wins Above Replacement for the Dodgers this season. If that holds up, it would be the third-highest single-season total of his 13-year career, his highest since posting a 2.4 WAR in 2008.
Punto’s value stems from that he can play a pair of positions adequately. He’s contributed five Defensive Runs Saved at both shortstop and third base, two spots where he’s had to fill in due to injuries.

Punto may not be an imposing hitter, but he’s an annoying one for pitchers to face. His 4.29 pitches per plate appearance rank tied for fourth in the majors, among those with at least 250 plate appearances this season. In addition, in 13 games this month, Punto has a .475 on-base percentage (fifth in the NL among players with at least 30 plate appearances) and eight RBI.

* Nick Punto (via ESPNLA.com):  “Pedroia is the heartbeat of that club, and when he’s not happy, it’s not a good thing. He was definitely not very happy.”

Gonzalez Punto Dodger Blue

And the results have definitely shown for both teams.

The Red Sox are looking to become just the seventh team since the current divisional format began in 1995, and the first in the AL since the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, to go from worst-to-first in their division.  This would be the first time in franchise history that the Red Sox won their division/league the year after finishing in last place.

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