A lot has been written, is being written, and will be written about the Red Sox and Dodgers trade that sends Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and $12 million to Los Angeles in exchange for James Loney, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus going to Boston. It’s both literally and figuratively a very big deal.
There are several areas at which our interest might be directed:
- The amount of talent being acquired by the Dodgers.
- The amount of prospective talent being acquired by the Red Sox.
- Boston essentially resetting the the direction that the team was heading.
- Los Angeles embracing its role as the Yankees of the Pacific Coast.
While the Dodgers bolstering their roster – with only the San Francisco Giants ahead of them in the National League West – and the Red Sox improving their organizational depth – by embracing a rare mid-season rebuilding philosophy – are fascinating ways of looking at this trade, I’m far more interested by the implications created by a baseball team exhibiting a willingness to embrace more than $270 million in payroll commitments that another is willing to shed.
This is a game changer. In acquiring these contracted players from the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers are saying one of two things: Either 1) We believe that Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford, and Punto will give us more value on the money that’s already been committed to them than we would find on the free agent market this off season (with the additional bonus of immediate improvement ahead of a potential playoff run this year); or 2) We’ve got such a willingness to spend the money coming our way when we sign a contract for broadcast rights to a regional television sports network that the model by which we currently judge value and worth of players is about to be drastically altered – flags fly forever.
Let’s find out which statement the Dodgers are making with this deal first by looking at the current model and what the players coming to Los Angeles must be able to produce after this season to make this trade worthwhile. We’ll accomplish this by examining every contract that is being picked up here and assuming ta $5.5 million cost of one win above replacement in 2013, 5% inflation, and a 0.5 WAR decline each year for a player in his thirties.
Adrian Gonzalez: 6 years/$133 million. Anticipates 20.5 total WAR. Views player as 4.7 WAR true talent.
2013 – $21 million salary - $5.50 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.8 WAR – Anticipating 4.7 WAR
2014 – $21 million salary - $5.78 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.6 WAR – Anticipating 4.2 WAR
2015 – $21 million salary - $6.06 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.5 WAR – Anticipating 3.7 WAR
2016 – $21 million salary - $6.37 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.3 WAR – Anticipating 3.2 WAR
2017 – $21.5 million salary - $6.69 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.2 WAR – Anticipating 2.7 WAR
2018 – $21.5 million salary - $7.02 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.1 WAR – Anticipating 2.2 WAR
Carl Crawford: 5 years/$108.5 million. Anticipates 17 total WAR. Views player as 4.4 WAR true talent.
2013 – $20 million salary - $5.50 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.6 WAR – Anticipating 4.4 WAR
2014 – $20.25 million salary - $5.78 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.5 WAR – Anticipating 3.9 WAR
2015 – $20.5 million salary - $6.06 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.4 WAR – Anticipating 3.4 WAR
2016 – $20.75 million salary - $6.37 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.3 WAR – Anticipating 2.9 WAR
2017 – $21 million salary - $6.69 M $/WAR – Paying for 3.1 WAR – Anticipating 2.4 WAR
Josh Beckett: 2 years/$31.5 million. Anticipates 5.5 total WAR. Views player as 3 WAR true talent.
2013 – $15.75 million salary - $5.50 M $/WAR – Paying for 2.9 WAR – Anticipating 3.0 WAR
2014 – $15.75 million salary - $5.78 M $/WAR – Paying for 2.7 WAR – Anticipating 2.5 WAR
Nick Punto: 1 year/$1.5 million. Anticipates 0.3 total WAR. Views player as 0.3 WAR true talent.
2013 - $1.5 million salary - $5.50 M $/WAR – Paying for 0.3 WAR – Anticipating 0.3 WAR
Overall, the Dodgers would anticipate approximately 40 wins above replacement from these players if they were going by the current model, minus two wins that the financial considerations that the Red Sox are paying should cover. That only seems ridiculous in that it’s largely dependent on the performance of Carl Crawford. His first two seasons in Boston were a nightmare and now he faces a six month rehab from Tommy John surgery before he plays baseball again. The contracts that the Dodgers picked up on Gonzalez and Beckett appear to be reasonable for the amount of production we might expect from them, as they’re currently paid an amount that their true talent level, in looking back at their past three seasons, suggests they deserve.
Of course, the loss of potential value in the players that were sent the other way should be tallied onto this, but there should also be some recognition of the Dodgers’ current place in the standings and their proximity to playoff baseball. If we cancel those factors out, and focus only on the financial aspect of the deal, the reward in this case is that the former Boston Red Sox players provide the value that they’re being paid to provide. The major risk is that Carl Crawford does not. In other words, the risk simply doesn’t match the reward.
So, what we’re left with is something in between the two statements I suggested that the Dodgers might be making with this deal. A best case scenario would likely be the money spent merely equalling the production. To me, that suggests that Los Angeles and their current situation, in terms of both finances and standings, isn’t too concerned with overpaying for talent. However, it’s not as if they went about the acquisition of these players in a reckless enough manner to suggest that they’ve turned the system on its head.
This is merely how a big market team should be behaving. They’re spending a lot of money, but spending like this isn’t foolish if you can afford it. If anything, I see the Dodgers as being quite clever in noticing how far luck and randomization had conspired to take them in the early-going of the season, and now they’ve prepared their roster in a fashion for which they can make their own good luck. For the first time in a long-time, Los Angeles is being well-managed, and while that might strike fear in the front offices of other teams, it’s not doing the same to those teams’ ownership groups … at least, not yet.