It’s happened. The biggest deal in baseball history (financially) has finally gone thorough. The only other player with over $100M left on their contract to get traded was Alex Rodriguez. From what I observed the fan reaction is about 50/50. I see some fans saying that the Red Sox gave up too much talent; I see other’s thrilled to get all that money off the books. I’ve written two precursors this season that have urged a trade like this. I wrote one at the deadline urging the Red Sox to sell and termed it as building. That article included a trade sending Beckett to the Dodgers. Just last week I wrote an article for the Red Sox (or any team) to stop giving out $100M contracts. So with the Red Sox dealing away some huge contracts and getting some young pieces, especially young arms, I am thrilled with this move. The only disappointment I have is not getting Zach Lee in the deal as well, or sticking the Dodgers with John Lackey. As I woke up to see the deal completed I feel like John Locke crashing on the Island and with legs healed; given a new life. Is it way past the time that I can make LOST analogies?
The deal was a win. The Red Sox got almost completely out of the biggest deals in team history. In trading away Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto the Red Sox have traded away $270M and will only pick up $12M of it. I like Gonzalez a lot but he wasn’t worth the high price tag he had. Getting out of the Beckett and Crawford deals is a blessing. Crawford has not even come close to fulfilling his contract and still has 20M in 2013, $20.25M in 2014, $20.5M in 2015, $20.75M in 2016 and $21M in 2017. That’s a whole lot of Benjamins.
I fully expect Beckett to go to the Dodgers and be a good pitcher. He’s on a World Series contender and is returning to the National League. Gonzalez is going to put up good numbers in the middle of their lineup. Maybe once Crawford recovers he will thrive in being out of Boston but those players wouldn’t have put up great numbers in Boston, let them be someone else’s worry.
What the Red Sox got in the deal, besides payroll relief, is young prospects; notably arms. They got James Loney and four prospects (Allen Webster, Ivan De Jesus, Jerry Sands, and Rubby De La Rosa). Before I get to the prospects, let’s talk about Loney. The first word that comes to mind is “eh”. Whatever. Loney has a yearly average of .284/.341/.423, not impressive for a first baseman and neither is his 4 home runs this year. The good news is that Loney is a free agent after this season.
Allen Webster, right-handed starting pitcher – Featuring a mid-90s sinker, the 23-year-old Webster induces a lot of ground balls, and he also has a curve ball and change-up, both of which are plus offerings. MLB.com ranks him at No. 65 on its Top 100 prospects list. Webster is 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP in 22 starts at Double-A Chattanooga. An 18th round draft pick out of high school in 2008, Webster entered the season at No. 95 on Baseball America’s 2012 Pre-Season Top 100 List.
The son of 15-year big-league veteran Ivan De Jesus, Sr., he has a simple, line-drive-oriented swing that allows him to spray the ball to all fields. His best attribute is easily his plate discipline, as he’s always demonstrated advanced on-base skills. His speed has deteriorated since the injury, though he was never particularly fast to begin with.
Capable of playing multiple infield positions, De Jesus’ defensive actions and fringy range profile best at second base. Given his limited upside, it’s hard to see him as anything more than an organizational player or a reserve infielder.
Jerry Sands, 24, has raw power to all fields. In 2010, in the minors, Sands hit 35 home runs. His career minor league numbers are .290/.377/.565 however his major league numbers have been underwhelming. Mike Rosenbaum writes.
a lofty bat path and physical strength at 6’4″, 225 pounds. He’s a streaky hitter who isn’t afraid to draw a walk, but has a tendency to make weak contact too often.
Even though he possesses slightly below-average speed, he moves well once he gets going and has decent range for a corner outfielder of his size. His arm is kind of fringy, but would still be more than enough to handle left field at Fenway Park.
From a physical standpoint, Sands’ game is similar to that of Double-A outfielder Bryce Brentz’s. They both have undeniable raw power as well as the propensity to get themselves out, but seem capable of providing at least average production as a corner outfielder. Therefore, his acquisition may have ruined Brentz’s small chance of being a September call-up.
It seems that Webster and De La Rosa are arms with a future leading the Red Sox rotation. Sandy has the capability of being a solid corner player, but he’s more of a gamble. Sands could just as easily be a 4-A player. De Jesus is most likely a utility player at best. The best part of this deal is still getting out of the money. I urge the ownership to not go out and sign another big money player, like Josh Hamilton, this offseason. And I hope fans are smart enough to agree.
The biggest need in the offseason is now lineup help. There aren’t a lot of free agent first basemen available but I wouldn’t mind a Mike Napoli who can play 1st, catch, and DH. I’ve addressed how they can improve shortstop.
This deal most likely increases the chances that Cody Ross gets re-signed and that Jacoby Ellsbury returns after he tests free agency a couple years down the line. (Although I still push for an Ellsbury for Elvis Andrus swap) There are a lot of outfielders available but this last month the Red Sox will really explore what they’ve got in their system. Maybe Ryan Kalish will emerge as the player we’ve been waiting for.
This final month is going to be a big view into the future. Can the Sox rebuild while still competing? I think so. They may not be World Series favorites for a couple of years but the should be in playoff contention and once you’re in, anything can happen. It’s very tough for a team of stay competitive while also developing their future, but this deal is a great move in that direction.
The biggest downside of this deal is the chance of us watching Josh Beckett pitching in the World Series later this year. At least we’ll have someone to root against.