Somewhere inside the ownership suite at Boston's famed Fenway Park it's very possible a remarkable scene took place yesterday. Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner, President Larry Lucchino, and GM Ben Cherington likely raised glasses of Cristal champagne in grateful celebration of instantly erasing three of the worst contracts in the history of their franchise.
How on earth did the Red Sox front office pull that off? And what idiotic MLB franchise would consider taking on $274.6 million in contracts on underachieving players, several of whom also brought a virus of negativity into the Sox clubhouse?
Why, it was your 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers.
We knew the flashy new ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers was desperate to become instantly relevant and competitive, and itching to challenge the San Francisco Giants for the 2012 NL West title. What we didn't know is that they would take on the following player contracts from a Red Sox team equally desperate to reboot their brand and their direction:
|To the Dodgers…||2012 (est.)||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018||Total|
|1B Adrian Gonzalez||$4.4m||$21m||$21m||$21m||$21m||$21.5m||$21.5m||$131.4m|
|LF Carl Crawford||$4.1m||$20m||$20.25m||$20.5m||$20.75m||$21m||–||$106.6m|
|SP Josh Beckett||$3.3m||$15.75m||$15.75m||–||–||–||–||$34.8m|
|IF Nick Punto||$315,000||$1.5m||–||–||–||–||–||$1.82m|
That's a total of $274.62 million. You can subtract the $12 million the Red Sox sent to LA as part of the deal. Payable at $2m a year over six years, it's probably close to the amount the Sox keep in their petty cash drawer.
But if you think that sounds like a steal for the Boston Red Sox just wait, there's more.
Boston also received the Dodgers' #2 rated minor league prospect, right-hander Allen Webster who is projected as a future #2 starter. In addition, the Sox got twenty-four year old LA minor league left fielder Jerry Sands (101 RBI, .911 OPS), 2B Ivan De Jesus Jr. (.295 AVG), and 23 year old righty Rubby De La Rosa.
The Dodgers also included under-performing first baseman James Loney as part of the deal. Loney has about $1.3 million left to pay on his $6.375m 2012 contract and is a free agent in October.
Two questions remain
First, will powerful first bagger Adrian Gonzalez help the Dodgers mount an attack on the National League West title? Absolutely. But this is already Gonzalez's fourth team and his reputation as a selfish player precedes him wherever he goes.
Second, is another bat what Los Angeles really needs most to compete and excel over the next several years? Absolutely not– they need starting pitching, and plenty of it. This is a team with one certified ace and a dugout full of recycled starters waiting to fail.
The Dodgers haven't quite figured out just how to spend all the money in the world… think New York Yankees in the early Steinbrenner years.
The hope of Magic Johnson and the ownership group that just took over the Dodger franchise is that Gonzalez goes nuts in the next five weeks and single-handedly makes a difference in the race to grab a slot in the National League post season. But to get a potential bump from one $131 million star player they had to take on an additional $143 million in salary from three marginal players.
Crawford's +$20 million per year paydays stretch out through 2017, and he is a serial under achiever with a long history of physical problems (he is about to undergo season-ending elbow surgery this week). Beckett (5-11, 5.23 ERA) was apparently a nightmare in the Red Sox clubhouse and Punto is a utility infielder.
The Dodgers came into the 2012 season with a payroll at $90+ million. There were a lot of potential roster upgrades the new owners could have considered over the next year; instead they made the stunning decision to purchase a dumpster full of garbage the Red Sox had been accumulating the last several years.
Just when the Sox were wondering what the hell they were going to do with all those deadly and expensive contracts, the Los Angeles Dodgers raised their hands and said "Pick us!".
My bet is the Boston Red Sox braintrust popped open another bottle of Cristal just thinking about it.