Red Sox Send Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett to Dodgers in Trade

The Boston Red Sox sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford -- the team’s three highest-paid players -- to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a nine-player trade yesterday.

Boston also sends infielder Nick Punto and about $12 million in cash according to USA Today, to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney, right-handed pitcher Allen Webster, infielder Ivan DeJesus and two players to be named later, the Major League Baseball teams said in separate new releases.

“We recognized that we are not who we want to be right now and it’s been a large enough sample of performance going back to last year,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said in a news conference in Boston, according to ESPN. “We felt like in order to be the team that we wanted to be on the field we needed to make more than cosmetic changes.”

The Red Sox had MLB’s third-highest payroll before the trade at $173.2 million, behind the New York Yankees at $198 million and the Philadelphia Phillies at $174.5, according to USA Today’s baseball salary database. The Dodgers ranked 12th with $95.1 million in player salaries.

According to the paper, Gonzalez is making $21.9 million this season, Crawford is earning $20.3 million and Beckett will be paid $17 million.

They join a Dodgers team that has a 68-58 record and is three games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League’s Western Division and 1 ½ games out of the NL’s final wild-card playoff spot.

Not Contending

Boston is fourth in the American League’s Eastern Division with a 60-66 record, 13 ½ games behind the first-place Yankees and 8 ½ games out in the AL wild-card race.

The trade comes as the Red Sox have struggled after the departures of former manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein, who put together World Series winners in 2004 and 2007.

Boston didn’t exercise its option to extend Francona’s term with the club, which began with its first championship since 1918 and ended after the Red Sox blew a nine-game lead for a playoff spot in September. Francona led the team to the playoffs five times in eight seasons.

In October, Epstein announced he would leave the Red Sox to join the Chicago Cubs as president of baseball operations. The youngest general manager in major-league history when he was hired in 2002, Epstein had a year left on his contract.

The Red Sox have become one of the most underperforming clubs in MLB this season, leading to the trade that sent three of the team’s biggest disappointments to the Dodgers.

On the Mend

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is on the mend after becoming embroiled in the divorce settlement of former owners Frank and Jamie McCourt. The Dodgers emerged from bankruptcy and were sold to Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC in May. The new management team, including Guggenheim Partners executive Mark Walter and Basketball Hall of Fame’s Magic Johnson, are looking to add talent and rebuild a storied franchise that has won six World Series titles, tied for fifth-most in baseball.

“We continue to do everything in our power to strengthen our team for the stretch drive in an effort to reach the postseason,” Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said after the biggest trade in team history. “This trade today exemplifies ownership’s commitment to making the team as good as possible not only for 2012 but for many seasons to come.”

All-Star

Gonzalez, 30, is batting .300 with 15 home runs and 86 runs batted in this season. The four-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner has hit 30 homers and driven in 100 or more runs four times over his nine-season career with Texas, San Diego and Boston.

Crawford, 31, is batting .282 with three homers, 19 RBI and five stolen bases. He’s appeared in four All-Star games in 11 seasons with Tampa and Boston.

Beckett, a 32-year-old right-hander, is 5-11 with a 5.23 earned run average in 21 starts this season. A three-time All- Star and most valuable player of the 2003 World Series while with the Florida Marlins, he’s 130-92 with a 3.92 ERA over 12 major-league seasons.

Punto, 34, is batting .200 in 65 games off the Red Sox bench this season.

Loney, 28, was batting .254 with four homers and 33 RBI in his seventh season in Los Angeles. He’s a .284 career hitter with 71 homers and 451 RBI.

DeJesus, 25, has appeared in 40 games with the Dodgers over the past two seasons, batting .231 with four RBI. Webster, 22, has yet to appear in the major leagues and was 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 27 games, with 22 starts with the Dodgers’ Double-A minor-league affiliate at Chattanooga.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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