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L.A. Dodgers' Trade For Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett Shows Their Financial Power

James Santelli |
August 25, 2012 | 2:05 p.m. PDT

Sports Director

Adrian Gonzalez returns to his home state of California. (SD Dirk/Creative Commons)
Adrian Gonzalez returns to his home state of California. (SD Dirk/Creative Commons)
The Los Angeles Dodgers are only a few months removed from the brink of bankruptcy. On Saturday, they finalized a trade in which they add a quarter-billion dollars in future salaries and made the word "blockbuster" seem inadequate.

They probably gave up too much in baseball assets to complete it, but the trade itself is one more indicator that the Dodgers plan on dominating all other NL teams financially for the next decade.


The Dodgers acquired the talents of 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Josh Beckett, OF Carl Crawford, IF Nick Punto and $12 million to put a dent into their behemoth contracts. In return, the Boston Red Sox get 1B James Loney, RHP Allen Webster, IF Ivan De Jesus, and "players to be named later" in the form of OF Jerry Sands and RHP Rubby De La Rosa, plus a massive sigh of relief from owners.

Overall, it was not the smartest trade for the Dodgers. No other teams were seemingly willing to assume the massive remaining contracts of Beckett or Crawford (or possibly Gonzalez, given the length of his deal) and give up talented players. But here goes GM Ned Colletti, giving up the 24-year-old Sands, along with two legitimate pitching prospects in Webster and De La Rosa. He overpaid, no doubt about it.

As recognizable as the names heading to L.A. are, they certainly don't make the Dodgers odds-on favorites to win the NL West. There are only 36 games left in the season and the Giants have a three-game advantage in the division.

If any player in baseball could use a change of scenery, it's Josh Beckett. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
If any player in baseball could use a change of scenery, it's Josh Beckett. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Beckett may get to make six starts in the more-forgiving confines of National League lineups and pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, and Gonzalez's return to the West is a marked upgrade to a first base position that has been the weakest in the NL.

The division will still likely come down to the final six head-to-head games between the California rivals, and you have to like San Francisco's chances if you watched even a minute of Giants' sweep of the Dodgers this past week. The trade only improves Los Angeles' odds of making the playoffs by about three percentage points, according to Baseball Prospectus. It is still possible, even likely, that the Dodgers' playoff hopes will rest entirely on an anything-can-happen one-game Wild Card Playoff.


No matter, even if the Dodgers don't make the playoffs, this trade is not merely about raising a 2012 banner at Chavez Ravine. It signifies a new world order in the NL: the Dodgers and Phillies are printing money, and every other team falls short. And when one team made a huge investment, the dominoes started falling for the other.

Phillies ace Cole Hamels was widely expected to join his hometown Dodgers this offseason. When he came off the board by signing a $144-million extension to stay in Philadelphia, an uninspiring list of impact 2013 free agents got decidedly weaker.

So what did L.A. do after losing out on a chance at Hamels? Just follow the money. Jumping on to the 2013 payroll are the contracts of Gonzalez ($21 million), Crawford ($20 mil), Beckett ($15.75 mil) and the recently-acquired Hanley Ramirez ($15.5 mil). That is more than $72 million added to the Dodgers' books for next season in just two trades.

Matt Kemp is no longer the only handsomely-paid Dodgers player. (djcalpone/Creative Commons)
Matt Kemp is no longer the only handsomely-paid Dodgers player. (djcalpone/Creative Commons)
Now the Dodgers have $179 million in contracts and commitments on their 2013 payroll, and that is before any arbitration hearings or additional free agents, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

If you thought the Dodgers were on a spending spree when they locked up Matt Kemp ($160 million total extension) and Andre Ethier ($85 mil extension) over the last calendar year, this trade with the Red Sox equals the spending of an entire Navy of drunken sailors.


When all the ink dries, the Dodgers' 2013 payroll number will be similar to that of the New York Yankees. That is not likely to change any time soon. The Guggenheim Partners ownership group paid a record $2.15 billion for the franchise, and it seems they intend to make the Dodgers the Yankees of the West. President Stan Kasten wants Dodger Stadium renovations to start this winter, and new club levels and restaurants are sure to be revenue-generators.

The most important factor in making the Los Angeles Dodgers the envy of the National League is still those television rights. Southern California remains the second-largest TV market in the United States, and the Dodgers are primed to cash in. Selling the TV rights to an existing network could generate $225 million per season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But if owners want to start their own network with Dodgers games as the flagship, THR estimates the payout would be upwards of $425 million each season.

If the Dodgers create a new sports network, they would be following the path of the Yankees and Red Sox, the two franchises with the most revenue in baseball. It is a risky proposition, as the Dodgers would have to produce a winning product year after year, so fans will want to pay the cable fees to get the network and keep tuning in to games.

If the last month of trades is any indication, Dodgers owners are willing to outspend their opponents on a grand scale in order to create that winning product that could be worth billions in rights fees. Whether you think the contracts of Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett are albatrosses or proper value, it is clear that money is almost no object for the new financial juggernauts of the National League.


Email James or follow him on Twitter.

[View the story "Dodgers-Red Sox Complete Quarter-Billion-Dollar Trade" on Storify]
Dodgers-Red Sox Complete Quarter-Billion-Dollar Trade Tweets reacting to the trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox

Storified by James Santelli · Sat, Aug 25 2012 14:04:22

I like to imagine the whole Red Sox-Dodgers blockbuster started when Los Angeles called about Nick Punto and everything else was a toss-in.Aaron Gleeman
#dodgers doing it first class! http://pic.twitter.com/DRPr2HH7Nick Punto
Holy crap, does Josh Beckett look relieved to be on that #Dodgers plane, or what?Wendy Thurm
So Boston puts big name/contract players on waivers, nearly nobody wants them for nothing, and Dodgers give up young players for them.Sky Kalkman
trade started with a call from #dodgers to #redsox prez larry lucchino regarding A-Gon. for LA, this is all about A-Gon.Jon Heyman
Excited to get back to Cali and be a part of Dodgertown!Adrian Gonzalez
Overwhelming first responses I have heard from rival execs about the deal: terrible value for the Dodgers, huge overpay in dollars, prospectBuster Olney
Breaking: The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired Major League Baseball.Dustin Parkes
They're calling it a Blockbuster trade because the Dodgers are going to be broke soon, right?Bobby Big Wheel
The Dodgers are like one of the 1-800 debt relief services that advertise on TV. Bad contracts? Disgruntled players? Call Ned Colletti now!Pete Abraham
BREAKING: #Dodgers lineup tonight: Victorino 7, M Ellis 4, Kemp 8, Adrian Gonzalez 3, Ramirez 6, Ethier 9, Cruz 5, AJ Ellis 2, Kershaw 1.Steve Berthiaume



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