|Sources: Red Sox contemplate drastic overhaul in blockbuster with Dodgers||08.24.12 at 8:00 pm ET|
It’s no secret: In a 12-month span from December 2009 to December 2010, the Red Sox made a series of calculated, high-risk gambles meant to secure a championship core for the long haul, only to see their bets blow up in spectacular fashion.
In December 2009, the team signed John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million deal through 2014. That was followed by a four-year, $68 million extension in April 2010 that secured the services of Josh Beckett through 2014. The following offseason, after the Sox missed the playoffs, the team traded for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and agreed to the parameters of a seven-year, $154 million extension (on top of his $6.3 million salary in 2011) that would keep him in Boston through 2018. And, finally, the Sox signed free agent Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million contract at the December 2010 winter meetings, with the deal running from 2011-17.
For a time, it appeared that the Sox had set themselves up for the long haul. But when the team fell apart last September, missing the playoffs by a game — following a 2011 season in which Crawford and Lackey (who required Tommy John surgery) had performed poorly, and in which Beckett had been viewed as a central culprit in a clubhouse that fell apart, those deals started to look ominous, particularly given all that followed in 2012.
Beckett has had numerous health issues (thumb, lat, shoulder back) while going 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA. Multiple talent evaluators believed that he was unmovable — at least unless the Sox agreed to pick up much (perhaps the majority) of the remaining money owed to him — in a trade. He is owed approximately $34 million over the next two-plus years. As a player with 10/5 rights (10 years in the majors, five with the Red Sox), he would have to approve a trade or a waiver claim.
According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox and Dodgers have been discussing a deal that would involve sending Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney and minor leaguers. According to one of those sources, the Red Sox would pick up “very close” to $10 million of the remaining money owed to the four Red Sox players (approximately $270 million).
News of the framework for the potential blockbuster was first reported by Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (via twitter).
Gonzalez is in the first full year of a seven-year, $154 million deal. He is hitting .300 with a .343 OBP, .469 slugging mark, .812 OPS and 15 homers this year, a marked decline from his first year in Boston, when he hit .338/.410/.548/.947 with 27 homers and 117 RBI in 2011.
Crawford is in the second season of a seven-year, $142 million deal. He underwent Tommy John surgery for his torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow after hitting .282/.306/.479/.795 in 31 games.
Beckett is in the second year of a four-year, $68 million deal. The 32-year-old Beckett has struggled to a 5-11 record and 5.23 ERA in 21 starts this year. He’s had a number of health issues that have caused him to miss starts, including a thumb condition that required a cortisone shot coming out of spring training, minor lat stiffness that led to his being skipped in a start in early May, shoulder inflammation that resulted in his placement on the DL in June and, most recently, back spasms that caused a start to be postponed earlier this month. That said, he is also one year removed from a season where he had a 2.89 ERA, and a Red Sox source recently said that the team did not plan to give the right-hander away for nothing.
Punto is in the first year of a two-year, $3 million deal signed this past offseason. In 65 games, he’s hitting .200/.301/.272/.573 as a role player who has served as a backup at all four infield positions.
Loney, 28, will be a free agent after this season. The 28-year-old is hitting .254 with a .302 OBP, .344 slugging mark and .646 OPS along with four homers in 114 games. But presumably, the Red Sox would free enough cash in the transaction to pursue a free agent at the position in the offseason.
According to a major league source, the Red Sox would get Loney (who was scratched from the Dodgers lineup against the Marlins) as well as prospects Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Ivan De Jesus and Jerry Sands as well as perhaps one other prospect in a deal.
Webster, 22, and De La Rosa, 23, are the prizes. Webster, ranked the No. 95 prospect in the game by Baseball America entering this year, is 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA, 8.7 strikeouts and 4.2 walks per nine with Double-A Chattanooga. Baseball America said that he compared in some respects to Derek Lowe while offering the following scouting report:
“Webster shows plus pitches across the board when he has everything working. He has an easy delivery and 90-95 mph fastball that peaks at 97 mph with plenty of sink, helping him generate grounders all day long. He throws both a slider and curveball that are plus pitches at times, though at others he gets caught between the two. He has some trouble staying on top of his curve but it shows sharp three-quarters bite when it’s on. Webster’s changeup could be his best pitch, featuring sink and fade at 79-83 mph, though some scouts think he tips it off by slowing his arm speed.”
De La Rosa has had recent health issues but possesses considerable upside. In 13 games (10 starts) last year, he was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA, 8.9 strikeouts and 4.6 walks per nine innings. He’s a small right-hander with a big arm, having been clocked at over 100 mph in the past. He is coming back off of Tommy John surgery.
DeJesus has hit .231/.282/.277/.559 in 40 big league games over the last two years. Baseball America describes him as a potential second baseman who can also play third and short with a line drive swing and good on-base skills. The 2005 second-rounder is a career .297/.369/.389/.758 hitter in the minors.
Sands, 24, is hitting .244/.325/.376/.701 in 70 big league games over the last two years. He was hitting .303/.380/.531/.911 with 24 homers in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League this year.
Meanwhile, the Sox are not believed to be offering any prospects in a potential deal.
Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com (via twitter) adds that the deal is “close” and would involve some cash going from the Red Sox to the Dodgers.
For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.
- Red Sox ink veteran lefty Rafael Perez to minor league deal
- Cup of Coffee: Vazquez nearly hits for cycle in Portland’s walk-off win
- Players of the Week, May 13-19: Mookie Betts and Matt Price
- Cup of Coffee: Montas strikes out eight in Greenville loss
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #34
- ESPNBoston: De La Rosa finding his way in Pawtucket
- Cup of Coffee: Bradley, Holt shine in PawSox loss
- Xander Bogaerts, Portland to headline Futures at Fenway
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: Matt Barnes
- Cup of Coffee: Henry, Diaz propel Pawtucket to blowout victory