Almost all of the big trades in baseball come before the July 31 deadline. The Dodgers and Red Sox bucked that trend over the weekend, completing a blockbuster nine-player deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to L.A. and James Loney, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus Jr. to Boston.
There’s a reason these kinds of deals rarely happen. In fact, a deal like this had never happened, at least not on this scale. It’s the first time ever that two $100-million players (Gonzalez and Crawford) were traded in the same deal, as the Red Sox unloaded a total of $262.5 million in contracts. The goal for the Red Sox is obviously to obtain payroll flexibility and gain a fresh look to a roster that has been plagued by controversy and disappointment in recent years. From the Dodgers’ perspective, they have new ownership that clearly isn’t afraid to spend, and they’re obviously dead-set on going hard after a playoff spot this season, despite obvious long-term risk.
In the short-term, both of the fantasy-relevant players are headed to the Dodgers. Gonzalez hasn’t had a prototypical year, but he’s been one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last two months and thrilled Dodgers fans Saturday by launching a three-run homer in his first at-bat in Dodger blue. The first baseman will play 14 more games this year in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium and another six in San Francisco and San Diego. But, he’ll also salivate over three in Colorado, two in Arizona and three in Cincinnati. Overall, Gonzalez’s fantasy value probably takes a small hit, but he’s worth emptying your NL-only FAAB purse if there’s any money left in there.
Beckett had a pretty rough time at it this year in Boston, putting up a 5.23 ERA over 21 starts, and he’s shown no signs of turning things around of late, allowing at least four runs in five of his last six starts. The veteran right-hander’s velocity has also been at an all-time low. So what’s to like? Well, Beckett has feasted on NL teams in his career (3.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), and he’ll certainly benefit from going up against NL West lineups instead of AL East lineups. It’s hard to give him a ringing endorsement, but at least a moderate uptick in performance should be expected, and a big upgrade isn’t impossible.
Bats, Papi Back to the DL
Both Jose Bautista’s (wrist) and David Ortiz’s (Achilles) recoveries lasted a bit longer than anticipated. Yet, it appears that they still might have been activated a bit too soon.
The AL East sluggers have experienced setbacks after they played a mere three games between them upon activation from the disabled list. And, unless they experience unexpected recoveries, their seasons have likely come to a close.
Bautista has already officially been placed back on the DL, and his season is likely over following a nifty .241/.358/.527 batting line with 27 homers and 65 RBI over 92 games. Joey Bats is under contract through 2015, so he’s obviously not going anywhere, but it will be interesting to see what the offseason brings for Ortiz.
Ortiz will turn 37 in November, and he’s limited to designated hitter duties. Yet, just when it looked a couple years ago like he might be fading, he’s come back incredibly strong, punctuated by a 1.026 OPS in 90 games this season. Big Papi seemed to get his feelings hurt last offseason when the Red Sox refused to hand him a multi-year deal. But, now with both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford out of the picture, perhaps they’re be more willing to give in to the slugger’s demands.
National League Quick Hits: Joey Votto (knee) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday, and if all goes according to plan, he will be activated this weekend. Votto has been sidelined since mid-July with a left knee issue that’s required a pair of surgeries ... Ike Davis launched a pair of homers in Sunday’s win over the Astros. Though he’s batting just .223 with a .295 OBP this season, Davis has now gone deep 24 times and driven in 70 runs ... Casey Kelly will be called up to make his major league debut Monday. The top prospect has missed most of the season with elbow issues, but he’s fine now physically and the Padres think he’s ready ... Nick Masset has been shut down after experiencing more shoulder soreness. It has to now be considered unlikely that he’ll be back this year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he winds up having surgery ... Michael Morse (hand) expects to be back in the lineup Tuesday. He hasn’t played since getting hit by a pitch Friday, but X-rays on his hand came back negative ... Lucas Duda was recalled by the Mets Sunday and went 0-for-2 with a walk in his first game with the big club in nearly a month. He’s expected to see plenty of time in left field and will also get starts at first base.
American League Quick Hits: The Orioles have acquired left-hander Joe Saunders from the Diamondbacks. Saunders has a 5.51 ERA after the All-Star break, and he’s not a great fit in the AL East. But, the O’s are desperate for pitching, so he could be an upgrade for them. Reliever Matt Lindstrom was sent to Arizona in the deal ... Max Scherzer won his 14th game and lowered his ERA to 4.13 in Sunday’s victory over the Angels. Scherzer is one of the hottest pitchers in the game, having dropped his ERA a full run over his last 11 starts. He leads the league with 195 strikeouts ... Gavin Floyd exited his start Sunday with right elbow soreness. He spent time on the disabled list back in July with elbow issues, which obviously is not encouraging ... Cody Ross could reportedly sign an extension with the Red Sox before the end of the season. The impending free agent has turned out to be a nice bargain for the Sox and could conceivably net a three-year deal ... Franklin Gutierrez (concussion) is nearing a return to the Mariners. He’s played in seven rehab games this month without having any setbacks ... Albert Pujols missed a fourth straight game Sunday with a calf injury. He could return Tuesday following the Angels’ off day Monday.