Goodbye Josh Beckett? Goodbye Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford?
ESPN Boston says the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers “are closing in on” a deal that would send four Red Sox—Beckett, Gonzalez, Crawford, and Nick Punto—to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Red Sox all but out of the pennant races and the Dodgers, who’ve just been swept by the San Francisco Giants and knocked out of first in the National League West, in need of a little extra fortification as the stretch gets serious.
The other Red Sox said to be involved? Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto. If you count one prospect who originated with the Red Sox, you could call it five.
Pitcher Rubby De La Rosa will be headed back to Boston as the centerpiece of the deal, sources say. De La Rosa made his first major league appearance of the season Wednesday, having had Tommy John surgery about 13 months ago. Also included are first baseman James Loney and prospects Ivan DeJesus (infielder) and Jerry Sands (outfielder), according to sources, plus another top prospect that is still unknown.
The Dodgers optioned De La Rosa to Triple-A Albuquerque Friday afternoon.
Giving up Gonzalez would be a shocking change of direction for the Red Sox, who in December 2010 traded two of their top prospects — first baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Casey Kelly — to acquire the first baseman. Gonzalez is making $21 million this season, the first in the seven-year, $154 million extension he signed in April 2011.
The same report says the Dodgers—who aren’t shy about spending under new owners Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson—are willing to take on most of the salaries owed Beckett, Gonzalez, and Crawford after 2012.
What it doesn’t say, perhaps because it doesn’t dare: Gonzalez could well have made himself expendable over the text mutiny that rocked baseball news over the past fortnight. One and all seem to deny Gonzalez originated the message, but the message since heard ’round the world was sent from his cell phone. It happened in late July, when a number of Red Sox already disgruntled with divide-and-conquer manager Bobby Valentine demanded a sit-down with upper management after Valentine, almost inexplicable, allowed Jon Lester to stand in for an eleven-run beating against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox have already purged a couple of actual or alleged whistleblowers. It wasn’t too long after he was outed as the player most likely to have blown the whistle on the chicken-and-beer pounders down last September’s catastrophic stretch that Kevin Youkilis got his heart questioned by Valentine and then his head on the proverbial plate, sent to the White Sox where he’s since enjoyed a bit of a renaissance after a couple of seasons worth of fighting nagging injuries. And backup catcher Kelly Shoppach—whose private complaint about his playing time earlier in the season was made public by Valentine—was dealt to the Mets around the time Textgate broke, with Shoppach subsequently having to deny he was the actual writer of the fateful text.
In fairness: Unloading Gonzalez, Beckett, and Crawford—who’s out for the season following Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm, which may actually shed light on his struggles since signing with the Red Sox in the first place—would liberate a phenomenal amount of payroll if the Dodgers really would be willing to take most of their coming salaries on. One possible kicker: Beckett has 10-5 rights and, concurrently, the right to veto any trade, even if he might be seen as liking a possible return to the National League where he shone in the first place with the 2003 World Series-winning Florida Marlins.
Beckett, of course, has all but worn out his welcome in Boston, over both his pitching struggles and his actual or alleged attitude. He was cited as one of the ringleaders of the chicken-and-beer September stretch collapse; this season, he engendered another hoopla over missing a start but playing a round of golf on his off day to follow.
Crawford has been seen as a bust, albeit not for lack of effort, but his Tommy John surgery probably softens the image into one of a player trying, however foolishly, to play through pain.
It isn’t just ESPN Boston talking about the possible blockbuster, which has a Sunday afternoon deadline based on when the Dodgers put in a waiver claim on Gonzalez. The Los Angeles Times says “the wheels appear to be turning” on the deal, with one catch, according to Steve Dilbeck:
The Dodgers have demoted hard-throwing right-hander Rubby De La Rosa in the latest move involving a player said to be a potential piece in the deal.
De La Rosa was placed on waivers by the Dodgers, but pulled back after he was claimed by a team. He now could end up as a “player to be named later” in a trade with the Red Sox for Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, a four-time All-Star, was won by the Dodgers in a waiver claim on Friday, as was . . . Beckett. The teams now have 48 hours to consumate a deal involving those players, or the Red Sox could pull one or both back, or let either or both go without a trade, with the Dodgers then becoming responsible for their contracts.
. . . De La Rosa, 23, is among the Dodgers’ top prospects. His fastball velocity has hit triple-digits, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in August of last year and only recently returned to the mound.
De La Rosa pitched two-thirds of an inning Wednesday night, giving up two runs, but his fastball was clocked as high as 96 mph. Other Dodgers prospects who are being discussed as part of the deal are pitchers Zach Lee and Allen Webster . . .
The plots, as usual, thicken . . .
SITUATION UPDATE—Neither team is saying anything publicly just yet, but Yahoo! Sports reports both Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox) and James Loney (Dodgers) were scratched from their teams’ Friday night game lineups, perhaps in anticipation that the blockbuster goes through. (Note: Rubby De La Rosa—now there’s one of the great names for a pitcher!—was optioned to AAA Albuquerque, possibly being squared as a player to be named later if the deal goes down.)
Note: As the non-waiver trade deadline approached, the Dodgers still considered Allen Webster a near-absolute untouchable, and may have considered Zach Lee a kind-of untouchable . . .