Adrian Gonzalez trade completed; a Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster
The Dodgers and Boston Red Sox have completed a blockbuster trade in which four-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez lands in Los Angeles, the latest example of the Dodgers’ new ownership group investing heavily in a win-now approach.
Even though the possibility had been hinted at in recent days -- and was all but finished by game time Friday night -- the acquisition by the Dodgers of the Red Sox first baseman was a stunning development.
The deal: The Dodgers acquired Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett, injured outfielder Carl Crawford and utilityman Nick Punto in exchange for first baseman James Loney and four prospects.
Gonzalez, Beckett and Punto are expected to arrive in Los Angeles later Saturday.
The Dodgers picked up salaries totaling more than a quarter of a billion dollars in the deal. Gonzalez is owed $127 million the next six seasons; Beckett $31.5 million; Punto $1.5 million; and Crawford, who had reconstructive elbow surgery on Thursday, $102.5 million the next five seasons.
A Dodgers team that had the best record in baseball early this season but has fallen three games back of the Giants in the National League West, has now undergone a major makeover with the mid-season additions of Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is the unexpected coup, however, because he was acquired after the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline when major trades are normally scarce.
A Dodgers team that had been trying to capture the division with only Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier as significant bats in the middle of the order should now, with the addition of Ramirez and Gonzalez, have one of the most impressive lineups in baseball.
Gonzalez is a San Diego native of Mexican heritage who is bilingual and would seem a natural draw to the Dodgers’ significant Latino following. Over his last six full seasons, he has hit .297 and averaged 31 home runs and 103 runs batted in.
This season, his second with Boston after spending the rest of his career with the San Diego Padres, he is batting .300 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI.
The Guggenheim Baseball Management group that purchased the Dodgers in May continues to demonstrate they are operating in a different universe from the one previous owner Frank McCourt, who had driven the team to bankruptcy.
Even after the Dodgers had signed Ethier to an $85-million extension in June, signed Cuban free agent Yasiel Puig for $44.2 million and taken on an additional $40 million in salary with moves prior to the non-waiver trading deadline, Dodgers chairman Mark Walter said Wednesday the team could “still take on significant money.”
The addition of Gonzalez should prove a major upgrade at first base, where the Dodgers had become increasingly disenchanted with the regression of Loney. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been platooning Loney at first with journeyman Juan Rivera the last two months. Loney, 28, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, is batting .254 with four home runs and 33 RBI.
Heading to Boston in the deal along with Loney are pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, infielder Ivan De Jesus and outfielder-first baseman Jerry Sands.
The Dodgers began the season with a payroll of approximately $91 million. But with new ownership and an unexpected opportunity to advance into the postseason, the Dodgers have become the most aggressive and active team in baseball.
That historically has included the Red Sox, who began the season with a payroll of over $175 million. But the Red Sox are 59-66 this season and 13½ games out in the American League East.
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