BOSTON Shortly before the Red Sox opened their four-game series with the Royals Friday night, word began to spread that the team was in the process of working out a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers that would include Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto.
Minutes before the start of the game, Gonzalez, who was in the original lineup, batting fifth and playing first base, was scratched, fueling speculation that the trade was nearing completion.
Normally, the first thing you think about is: trade, said Mike Aviles. So I dont know if its official. I dont know if its a rumor. I dont know how close it is. But in all honesty, all I know is he didnt play today and its a possibility. So definitely sometimes its hard to lose a player like him. But thats just the way it is.
But late Friday night and into early Saturday morning there was still no official word that the deal had been finalized.
While the specifics of the deal have yet to be worked out, or announced, the Red Sox could be receiving first baseman James Loney, who will be a free agent after the season, right-handers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, shortstop Ivan DeJesus, and outfielderfirst baseman Jerry Sands.
The Red Sox have been hamstrung in recent years by several long-term, big-money, underperforming contracts. If the trade is completed, it would be one of the biggest in the teams recent history, with the very real possibility that it could simultaneously change the culture, the complexion, and the direction of the franchise.
The trade has the potential depending upon specifics -- to free up close to 275 million. Gonzalez and Crawford signed the two biggest contracts in the teams history. Crawford is in the second year of a seven-year, 142 million free agent contract, with 108.5 million remaining after this season. Gonzalez, after being acquired in a trade with the Padres in December 2010, is in the first year of seven-year 154 million extension with 133 million remaining after this season. Beckett is in the second year of a 68 million extension, with 31.5 million remaining after this season. Punto is owed 1.5 million for next season.
At the same time, the deal has the potential to impact the culture of the organization. Beckett has been at the center of several unsavory situations, including the chicken-and-beer fiasco last season. Gonzalez has become something of a clubhouse lawyer, on whose phone a text was sent to ownership last month requesting a meeting to discuss player complaints.
For now, though, the trade is still in the potential phase.
You probably know more than I do, manager Bobby Valentine said after Fridays win over the Royals. I just heard before the game to take Adrian out of the lineup just in case something happens.
Gonzalez had already heard about it, so he was kind of telling me. He wasnt surprised. I said Did this happen? And he said, No, but it might. So I guess he knows what I know.
I guess its all working, and to tell you the truth, I dont need all the details until they happen. I have a lot on my plate right now and the last thing I have to do is worry about the what ifs. Im sure if theres something that is concrete, it will be presented to me or Ill get to read it on the TV scroll.
The hope, Valentine said, is that the deal would have a positive impact on his team, which has underperformed for almost a full calendar year now.
I would think everything we do is meant to energize the team, he said. We win together and lose together, we fight together. And we go through a lot of stuff together. So it could help. Its hard to say. If Adrians not part of the team, its hard to say that its definitely going to help because like I said, I havent been around a more professional good guy, terrific player as him in a long time, if ever.
Jon Lester was preparing for his start when the reports began to emerge.
I can't really comment on it, he said. Until its actually done, you cant really predict the future and know how youre going to feel about it until its actually done. So if it does get done, well move forward. If it doesnt, well move forward from there. So well wait and see where this thing goes.
Beckett is the scheduled starter for Saturday nights game. As of Friday night, after the game, that was still the case.
Yeah, pitching coach Randy Niemann just asked me that, Valentine said. To the best of my knowledge, yes.
Most of the players have been involved in a trade in some way, either directly or indirectly. While it can be unsettling, its not unexpected.
It all depends what the situation of the team is, said David Ortiz. And Im pretty sure right now the trade situation that we are seeing is just seems like it is 50-50. The following year you will see the result if you were 50-50 or if you were 75-25. But right now I know theres a lot of money involved in that and we got our front office as the one who makes decisions and try to do what is the best for the ballclub.
I think theyre looking to put the ballclub in a better situation next year. Im not saying that were going to be in a better situation without those players. Were about to find out.
And right now its still a rumor. Nobody can confirm anything.
The players were waiting until something definite happened.
I dont know whats going on, said Cody Ross. I heard a little bit but Ill answer that when, if something gets done.
Nothing shocks me in this game anymore. Stuff happens all the time. Its the way the game is.
I think enough of us have been around a while where its not that big of a shocker. I remember when I was a younger player and the trade deadline came around, or even for instance in my situation when I got claimed off waivers by the giants in 2010. It was a shock because I didnt expect those things to happen. But over time you play more and you see things. Nothing surprises you.
Ortiz talked to Gonzalez after the first baseman was scratched from the lineup.
He was shocked just like we are a little bit, Ortiz said. He wanted to be here. Thats why he came here and help this ballclub to win a World Series. And he signed long-term like he did and getting to be out in his second year, it kind of surprises you. But like I said, we dont know yet whats going to be better for all of us, the ballclub, the players. And thats what theyre trying to figure out.