The nine-player blockbuster between the Red Sox and Dodgers is complete

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UPDATE: The trade has been announced. The Red Sox have traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and cash considerations to the Dodgers for James Loney, Allen Webster, Ivan De Jesus, Jr. and two players to be named later.

Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands are reportedly the players to be named and will join the Red Sox organization following the season. The Red Sox must wait to acquire De La Rosa and Sands because they didn’t clear waivers this month.

1:32 p.m.: OK, it’s done. For real this time. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the deal is official while Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com hears that Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto are already on a plane to Los Angeles. No word on if fried chicken is on the in-flight menu.

11:59 a.m.: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the trade will get done, but that the two sides are waiting for Carl Crawford’s consent paperwork to go through. He has already waived his no-trade clause verbally, so it’s just a formality at this point.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, who has been all over this trade, hears that an an official announcement is expected at some point this afternoon.

10:00 a.m.: So much for that. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the mega-deal is not yet official and reports of it being complete are premature. Still sounds like it will get done, but we might have to wait a little while longer.

9:32 a.m. ET: According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, the nine-player blockbuster trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers is complete. Dan Roche of WBZ is also reporting that the trade is done. Let’s go over the particulars.

The Red Sox are sending first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, right-hander Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto to the Dodgers for first baseman James Loney and four minor leaguers. Those prospects are expected to consist of right-handers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands and infielder Ivan De Jesus, Jr., though one or more of them could be announced as players to be named later and be sent to Boston after the season. Crawford and Beckett both waived their no-trade clauses in order for the deal to go through.

The Red Sox will get an incredible amount of financial flexibility as a result of the deal, as Silverman reports that the club will cover just $12 million of the roughly $271.5 million left on the contracts of Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford and Punto. Those payments will begin next year.

This deal will be viewed as a salary dump in many circles and considering the unprecedented amount of money involved, that’s certainly understandable, but Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington comes out looking pretty good after getting De La Rosa and Webster back in the deal. Each team is essentially getting what they want here, as the Red Sox want to press the reset button and the new Dodgers ownership wants to send the message that they are in it to win it. The deal improves the Dodgers’ chances of making a run in the postseason this year, but it might not look so hot a couple of years from now. Dodgers fans are surely hoping the new ownership has enough money set aside to keep Clayton Kershaw around for the long haul.

Why more baseball players don’t kneel

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Bruce Maxwell was the first baseball player to kneel for the National Anthem. There may be others who do so, but I don’t suspect many will. Indeed, I’m pretty confident that the protests we’re seeing in the NFL today, and will see more of once basketball season begins, will not become a major thing in baseball.

Some will say it’s because baseball or baseball players are more patriotic or something, but I don’t think that’s it. Yes, baseball is a lot whiter and has a lot of conservative players who would never think to protest during the National Anthem or, for that matter, protest anything at all, but I suspect there are many who saw what Colin Kaepernick and other football players have done — or who have listened to what Steph Curry and LeBron James have said — and agreed with it. Yet I do not think many, if any of them will themselves protest.

Why? I think it mostly comes down to baseball’s culture of conformity.

Almost everyone in baseball comes through a hierarchy. Even the big names. Even if you are the consensus number one pick, you do your time in the minors. Once there, conformity and humility is drilled into you. This happens both affirmatively, in the form of coaches telling you to act in a certain way and passively, by virtue of all players being in similar, humbling circumstances. Bus rides, cheap hotels, etc. In that world, even if you are ten times better and ten times richer than your teammates, you fall in with the crowd because doing otherwise would be socially disruptive.

The very socialization of a baseball player is dependent upon them learning to talk, walk and carry themselves like all those who came before. No one is given special treatment. In the rare cases they are, it’s head-turning. Bryce Harper was a more or less normal minor leaguer, but since he got their earlier by bypassing his final years of high school, he was thrown at and challenged in ways no other minor league stars are. It does not take much for a guy to be singled out for punishment or mockery and even the superstars like Harper are not on solid professional ground as long as they’re still in the minors. Indeed, between a player’s education, as it were, in the minors and their pre-free agency residency in the majors, it can be a decade or more before a unique personality or a true showman is able to shine through, and by then few are willing. They’ve been conditioned by that point.

Even budding superstars can be roundly criticized for the tiniest of perceived transgressions or the most modest displays of individuality. Think about all of the “controversies” we have about the proper way to celebrate a home run or run the bases. If that’s a cause for singling out and, potentially, benching or being traded or being given a shorter leash, imagine the guts a baseball player has to have in order to do something like take a knee during the National Anthem. A guy with multiple MVP Awards would likely be in an uncomfortable spotlight over such a thing, so imagine how brave someone like Bruce Maxwell, who has barely 100 games under his belt, has to be to have done it.

CC Sabathia, a 17-year veteran, spoke out yesterday, but I suspect he won’t kneel for the National Anthem when he lines up with his teammates before the Wild Card game next week. Other ballplayers will likely wade into the fray in the coming days. But I suspect baseball’s very nature — it’s very culture — will keep ballplayers from following in the footsteps of the many NFL players who took a knee today.

 

Bronson Arroyo retires from baseball

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds’ right-hander Bronson Arroyo has decided to officially retire from Major League Baseball. At this point, the announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise. The 40-year-old starter was placed on the Reds’ 60-day disabled list after sustaining a right shoulder strain several months ago and hasn’t pitched in a game since June.

On Saturday, the Reds honored Arroyo during a pre-game retirement ceremony, gifting the pitcher with a rocking chair and custom guitar, among other commemorative gifts. He returned after the game — a 5-0 loss to the Red Sox — and showcased another of his talents with a 40-minute concert.

The timing of the ceremony was fitting, too. Not only had Arroyo logged nine seasons with the Reds, compiling a 4.18 ERA and 16.4 fWAR over a whopping 279 starts in Cincinnati, but he also spent a memorable three seasons with the Red Sox from 2003-2005 and helped carry them to an incredible, drought-snapping World Series championship in ’04. While he didn’t have the most dominant run in 2017, dragging a 7.35 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 5.7 SO/9 through 71 innings before succumbing to injury, the fact that he made another run at the majors was miracle enough.

“It feels now like my senior year in high school and I’m ready to get out,” Arroyo said. “I’m honestly ready to go.”