One of the biggest trades in baseball history – at least in terms of the contractural dollars involved – was completed one year ago today. It was a franchise altering move that’s seemingly worked out on both sides, one of the rarest occurrences in professional sports. Nine players were involved in the deal between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. A year later both teams find themselves in first place in their respective divisions. They also square off in the finale of a three game series that just might be a preview of the World Series.
Let’s take advantage of the moment to look back at how the deal has impacted both sides.
To Los Angeles:
Loney, De Jesus, and Sands are all no longer members of the Red Sox organization. Sands (and De La Rosa) didn’t formally join the organization until the season ended, as his inclusion was as a player to be named later. De Jesus didn’t end up joining the team’s Major League roster until late September, but had a minimal impact. He’d appear in just eight games, all as either a pinch hitter or defensive replacement, and went hitless in either plate appearances (striking out six times). Sands and De Jesus were both included in Boston’s deal in late December with the Pittsburgh Pirates, bringing Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt to Boston.
De Jesus has hit .322/.382/.459 in 319 PA for Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate this season. Sands has struggled to a .210/.317/.336 line in 376 PA at the same level. Neither has seen any time with the Pirates Major League club this season.
Boston allowed Loney to walk via free agency following the season, as most expected them to when the acquired Loney. He hit a largely forgettable .230/.264/.310 in 106 PA with the team following the trade, but didn’t offer the offensive potential that the team had been seeking at the position. He’d end up signing a one year deal to join the Tampa Bay Rays, a move that’s paid off positively for both sides. Loney’s hit .305/.354/.432 in 458 PA on the year. The offensive production has been the best of Loney’s career dating back to his rookie season in 2007 and he may have put himself for a multi-year deal this coming offseason.
Boston was never interested in Sands, De Jesus, or Loney being big pieces of their future. They were a means to facilitate the deal that provided them financial breathing room and a pair of intriguing pitching prospects.
Webster has had a challenging season. He’d pitched well enough early on to earn a spot start for Boston in late April. He’d have a few stints with the Red Sox during the season, making six starts in total in which he went 1-2 with a 9.57 ERA and 1.899 WHIP in 26.1 IP. He’s had trouble with his command and trouble keeping the ball in the park, but still figures to be among the team’s call ups once September arrives. Down in the minors, however, he’s been far more consistent.
Over 19 starts totaling 92.1 IP in his first taste of Triple-A, Webster is 8-4 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.148 WHIP. Baseball America ranked him as the 49th best prospect in baseball entering the 2013 season. He’ll likely see a drop in that ranking heading into 2014, but there’s still plenty of potential that should keep Webster ranked among the game’s best. He profiles as a mid-rotation starter and could potentially be in the mix for the team’s starting rotation next Spring.
De La Rosa, meanwhile, has taken a different course to his 2013 season. He dealt with his inconsistencies early on in the year, but now finds himself a piece of the Boston bullpen – which might be where his future lies. He’s made just five appearances on the year with Boston, posting a 4.76 ERA and 1.235 WHIP in 5.2 IP. He’s been a little wild early on (3 HBP in the 26 batters he’s faced) but there’s still plenty of hope for the 24 year old. De La Rosa missed more than a year while recovering from Tommy John Surgery and had just returned to the mound before the trade to Boston so he’s still within that first season-to-two-season recovery period that we’re seeing from a lot of these young pitchers who undergo the procedure.
Boston has primarily used De La Rosa as a starter in the minor leagues, but some scouts have suggested that his future will be in the bullpen – potentially even ending up in the closer’s role. He and Webster are just two of the promising young arms in the Boston organization who’ve started to make an impact on the roster this season (add Brandon Workman and Drake Britton into that mix). Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, and Henry Owens (to a lesser degree since he’s further away, though he’s likely the best of the group) are still yet to come.
Los Angeles made out well here too, let’s not forget. Gonzalez, Crawford, and Punto have all contributed for the Dodgers to varying degrees this season. Beckett was lost early on to an injury that threatened to end his career.
Gonzalez had long been an obsession of the Red Sox front office and the team wasted little time after acquiring him to sign him to a long term extension. Yet, a year removed from collapsing in September and in the midst of one of the worst seasons in the past twenty years, Boston jumped at the chance to unload him when the Dodgers came calling. Gonzalez was ultimately the big target that Los Angeles wanted. Entering play Sunday Gonzalez had appeared in 161 games for the Dodgers since the trade. He’s hit .297/.345/.453 in that stretch, with 19 HR, 38 2B, and 102 RBI – numbers pretty close to his career averages.
LA’s new owners wanted to make a big acquisition to help bolster their rebuilding efforts and they targeted Gonzalez. So far he’s been everything they bargained for, despite the high cost they paid to acquire him.
Crawford never fit with the Red Sox after receiving an unexpectedly high contract on the free agent market. Between injury and his own discontent – not to mention the lack of production on the field – Crawford had become almost unwelcomed by the team’s fan base. A .292/.333/.440 career hitter, Crawford’s production had dipped to .260/.292/.419 during his tenure in Boston. The Dodgers knew that he wouldn’t play at all last year when they acquired him, as Crawford recovered from his latest injury. Crawford’s been like his old self with Los Angeles this season, hitting .293/.344/.415 in 364 PA. He did miss most of June and part of July though, proving that he still can’t remain healthy for a full season.
Punto has hit .256/.333/.331 in 277 PA. He’s split his time pretty equally between second, third, and shortstop and has proven to be a valuable asset off the bench for the Dodgers.
Beckett threw well upon arriving in LA. In seven starts to close out the year he posted a 2.93 ERA and 1.326 WHIP over 43.0 IP. He’d struggle this year, however. He’d make eight starts, posting a 5.19 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in 43.1 IP. By late May he’d find himself on the DL, with reports swirling that a nerve issue in his fingers might force Beckett into an early retirement. The Dodgers would shut him down for the season so that he could undergo surgery. It’s believed that he’ll aim to arrive at Spring Training ready to pitch, but it will be interesting to see if the surgery ended up resolving the nerve concerns.
In the end, both teams made out positively in this deal. An argument could be made, however, that Boston might have “won” the trade thanks to the extraordinary amount of payroll room that the move created. Los Angeles took on approximately $262 Million in salary commitments at the time of this trade, a remarkable sum for a team to absorb. New owners and a new television network suggest that the Dodgers can afford it, but it was still a risky proposition that the Red Sox were more than happy to help with.