Adrian Gonzalez

Breaking down the Red Sox-Dodgers megadeal

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If FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi is correct, the Red Sox and Dodgers have agreed to the following nine-player deal:

To L.A.: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto
To Boston: Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus, James Loney

It’s not official yet, as the Red Sox still need Crawford and Beckett to waive their trade protection. However, here the breakdown of the deal:

Going to the Dodgers:

Adrian Gonzalez (1B, age 30): Of the three huge pieces getting sent the Dodgers’ way, Gonzalez is the one most teams would probably view as being worth his contract. He’s currently in the first year of his monster extension, so he’s due $127 million in the six years from 2013-18. While Gonzalez had a disappointing first half of 2012, he’s hit .338/.378/.593 with nine homers and 41 RBI in 37 games since the All-Star break.  He also hit .338 last year in his first season with Boston. Needless to say, he’d be a huge upgrade over James Loney at first base in Los Angeles. He’d likely supplant Andre Ethier in the cleanup spot behind Matt Kemp.

Carl Crawford (LF, age 31): Crawford is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, so he won’t make any sort of immediate impact in Los Angeles. Still, he should be ready next year, and he played pretty well while healthy this year, hitting .282/.306/.479 with three homers in 117 at-bats. That was a big step forward from a tremendously disappointing first year in Boston. Crawford may yet have a couple of All-Star appearances going forward, but the Red Sox could essentially start over by shedding his contract. He’ll make $102.5 million from 2013-17. With Shane Victorino likely to leave in free agency, the Dodgers would use Crawford in left field next year.

Josh Beckett (SP, age 32): Beckett has turned into public enemy No. 1 in Boston of late, with the results to match; he’s 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts this season. Beckett, though, was one of the AL’s best pitchers just one year ago, finishing 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 30 starts in 2011. His velocity is down, so he’s not necessarily going to rebound completely in the National League. Still, he’d be a better bet than Aaron Harang or Joe Blanton in a postseason rotation. Beckett is owed $31.5 million for 2013-14. The Dodgers would have him replace Joe Blanton in the rotation.

Nick Punto (INF, age 34): Foolishly given a two-year, $3 million contract last winter, Punto has found himself made obsolete in Boston by Pedro Ciriaco’s emergence. In Los Angeles, he’d join Luis Cruz and Juan Uribe in the mix at third base. Punto is hitting just .200/.301/.272 in 125 at-bats this season, but he is a plus defender at third and he hit .278/.388/.421 for the Cardinals last year.

Going to the Red Sox:

Rubby De La Rosa (SP, age 23): De La Rosa blossomed into a top prospect in 2011, jumping from Double-A to the majors and going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA and a 60/31 K/BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings for the Dodgers. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery last August. He just returned this week, as the Dodgers activated him from the disabled list following a successful rehab stint. The Dodgers then sent him back down to the minors today, but that was a move to facilitate the trade; De La Rosa didn’t clear waivers, so he can only be included in the deal as a “player to be named” and he has to be in the minors to make that happen. Therefore, he won’t officially become Boston property until the season ends.

A short right-hander (5’11”) with a big mid-90s fastball and a quality changeup, De La Rosa has drawn some comparisons to Pedro Martinez. That’s overselling it, but he has No. 2 or 3 starter potential, and he should make an impact next year.

Allen Webster (SP, age 22): Webster, a right-hander with a very good sinker and a plus changeup, was the prospect the Cubs wanted from the Dodgers for Ryan Dempster. He’s gone 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA and a 117/57 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings for Double-A Chattanooga this season. Most impressive is that he’s allowed just one homer all year. He and fellow righty Zach Lee were prospects 1 and 1a in the Dodger farm system. Most prefer Lee, but I like Webster a bit better.

Jerry Sands (1B/OF, age 24): It seemed obvious that Sands should be in the deal, given that he plays the positions that will be occupied by Gonzalez and Crawford in Los Angeles. His stock is down since he’s hit a modest .244/.325/.376 with 60 strikeouts in 221 major league at-bats to date. He also lacks defensive value. Still, as a right-handed doubles hitter, he could work out nicely in Fenway. He’ll get a long look over the rest of the year to determine whether he fits into the plans for 2013. I’m skeptical that he’s a long-term regular, but it can’t be ruled out.

Ivan De Jesus (INF, age 25): De Jesus is essentially a junior Nick Punto. It’s doubtful that he’ll hit enough to be of use as a regular, but he’s a fine infielder with a history of pretty good OBPs in the minors. Oddly, his walk rate is well down in Triple-A this year, as he’s hit .295/.333/.415 with a 53/14 K/BB ratio in 224 at-bats for Albuquerque. Last year, he came in at .310/.389/.432 with the same club.

James Loney (1B, age 28): The Dodgers certainly have no further use for Loney after making the deal, and they probably forced the Red Sox to take him on for salary purposes. The Red Sox almost surely will let him leave as a free agent this winter if they don’t simply release him before then, so there’s no 2013 commitment here. Loney has hit .254/.403/.344 in 334 at-bats this season, leaving him with a .284/.341/.423 career line. Maybe the Red Sox will give him a shot, but it’d make more sense to play Sands, Mauro Gomez and maybe Ryan Lavarnway at first base.

In making the trade, the Red Sox would shed $58.25 million in 2013 salaries, without taking on anyone making more than the minimum. They’re left with just $42.375 million in obligations for 2013 (John Lackey, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz), plus about $32.5 million for 10 arbitration-eligible players. That should make them big players in free agency, and it also gives them plenty of flexibility to make Jacoby Ellsbury a big offer this winter before he hits free agency after 2013.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.