BOSTON - The Red Sox completed a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers Saturday, sending right-hander Josh Beckett, left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and utility infielder Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney, infielder Ivan DeJesus, Jr., right-hander Allen Webster, and two players to be named later (believed to be right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands).
"I think we recognized that we are not who we want to be right now," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. "It's been a large enough sample performance going back to last year that we felt like in order to be the team we want to be on the field we needed to make more than cosmetic changes. So as we looked forward to this offseason we felt like the opportunity to build the team that we need, that the fans deserve, that we want, required more of a bold move to give us an opportunity to really reshape the roster, reshape the team."
The Red Sox have been disappointing this season, struggling to get above .500 for most of the season. With a payroll of $175 million, in fourth place in the American League East, with a record of 60-66 going into Saturday's game against the Royals at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were well below their preseason expectation.
"Fans can expect us to work our tails off to put the best team together going forward starting this offseason and for 2013," Cherington said. "We have to be disciplined in the way we do that. We can't go out tomorrow or the next day and fill up the payroll flexibility we just created. So that'll happen. There's a clear commitment from ownership here. We are going to continue to have a significant payroll.
"We're going to continue to spend money on players and we're going to be committed to building the bests team we possibly can. It's up to us to make good decisions, make disciplined decisions and that's, I think the past that's what's led to our best teams. I don't remember in 2004 and 2007 people talking as much about what the size of the payroll was. Just talked about how good the team was."
The deal gives Boston some much needed payroll and roster flexibility, two things that have been lacking over the last few seasons under the weight of several big money, long-term, underperforming contracts. It also allows them to change the culture of the clubhouse, which had been perceived as poor for most of this season and the end of last season.
"[The change] was necessary," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Just didn't seem like it mixed as well as it should. It has nothing to do with the individuals that were in the trade."
Added Cherington, "The culture will feel better when we start winning more games. This was about creating an opportunity to build a better team moving forward. It was not a trade that was made to try to fix a cultural problem. It was about opportunity, giving us opportunity moving forward and the culture will feel very good when we do the things that have made us good over time, the things that help us win games. So when we do those things the culture will feel good."
Only Loney will join Boston's major league team. The other players will be assigned within Boston's farm system.