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While a blockbuster deal that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers is not done, enough progress has been made that both sides expect some incarnation of the trade to happen.
Gonzalez was pulled from Boston's lineup in Friday night's game against the Kansas City Royals. The details of the proposed trade are the only stumbling block at this point, and they are not insignificant. The teams continue to haggle over the amount of money the Red Sox would send to the Dodgers to offset the $262.5 million in future salaries for the four veterans who would go to Los Angeles as well as the quartet of prospects who would accompany first baseman James Loney to Boston.
In addition, Beckett, who has 10-and-5 rights that allow him to veto any trade, would need to accept the deal, and because of the amount of money expected to change hands, MLB commissioner Bud Selig would have to approve it.
The potential trade, first reported by ESPNBoston.com, would have far-reaching ripples well beyond the two keystone franchises directly involved if the parties can close it before a 1:30 p.m. ET deadline Sunday by which Gonzalez must be dealt.
The Dodgers, whose new ownership has flexed its financial muscle with the Andre Ethier contract extension and trades for Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton, would be making its strongest commitment yet – and one that ties them to a pair of $100 million-plus deals and the $31.5 million contract of Beckett, who they expect to benefit from a move to the NL West and its pitcher-friendly parks.
The Red Sox, a massive disappointment, would get both the shakeup and salary relief they so desperately have sought. Giving up Gonzalez, expected to be a linchpin with his seven-year, $154 million deal signed last year, was not in the Red Sox's plans until the Dodgers claimed him and Beckett off waivers and the framework of a deal started to come together.
And the rest of baseball would marvel at the rarest sort of deal: a monster swap of money and talent after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Considering the recent contracts for star first basemen – Joey Votto's $250 million deal, Albert Pujols' $240 million pact and Prince Fielder's $214 million contract – Gonzalez's $127 million salary over the next six years isn't excessive for Los Angeles. By taking on the contracts of the underachieving Beckett and Crawford, who underwent Tommy John surgery and isn't expected back until late next season, the Dodgers would lessen the prospect haul necessary. ESPNBoston.com reported the Red Sox would receive pitching prospect Rubby De La Rosa, who just returned from Tommy John surgery, along with lesser prospects Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus, plus one more minor leaguer.
The Gonzalez-Los Angeles fit is a perfect match. He is from San Diego and would love a return to Southern California, where he spent five years of his career. Gonzalez aired his frustrations with Boston when a text message from his phone alerted Red Sox ownership to the team's dissatisfaction with manager Bobby Valentine and prompted a heated team meeting that has come to define Boston's underachievement.
Even though Gonzalez is putting up substandard numbers – .300/.343/.469 with 15 home runs – the Dodgers could use his offense. Following a series sweep by first-place San Francisco at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles sits three games back of the NL West lead and 1½ behind St. Louis for the second wild card.
The Dodgers' interest in Punto, who is signed for $1.5 million next year, comes from the need for a utility player after Jerry Hairston Jr.'s season-ending hip injury.
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