As a Dodgers fan, I am more optimistic about their chances to make the playoffs this season after the blockbuster trade with the Red Sox, and their lineup is now stacked for this year and beyond. There are many writers wondering why the Dodgers took on so many bad contracts, while giving up two solid prospects on top of the Red Sox eating just $12 million in salary, but this deal is more about fielding a winner on the field. Sure, the contracts may look bad in a few years, but the new MLB television contracts with ESPN, MLB, and FOX could very easily make these contracts look tame as soon as this offseason.
With that out of the way, let's take a look at the fantasy impact of this historical trade:
Dodgers get Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto
Red Sox get: James Loney, Rubby de la Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands, and Ivan De Jesus Jr.
The fantasy implications after the jump:
His value takes a bit of a hit as he is moving out of hitter-friendly Fenway Park and moves to Dodger Stadium, where he has a triple slash line of .212-.312-.364 with 5 HRs, 21 runs, 21 RBI and a 46-24 strikeout to walk ratio in 165 career at bats. That is about 6 weeks of at bats spread over 5 seasons in the National League. Compare that to his slash line hitting at home in Petco Park: .267-.367-.442 with 57 HRs, 185 runs and 201 RBI in over 1,400 at bats, and one can argue that maybe he just had a tough time hitting Dodger pitching.
AGonz's career home road splits look like this, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com:
Gonzalez has hit better on the road than he has at home over his career, which is not surprising since his called Petco Park home for most of his 7 year career. Dodger Stadium is a pitchers park, but AGonz will also be hitting in one of the best, if not the best, lineups in basebalL. Consider this lineup:
Beckett has struggled this season, as he is just 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 4.30 xFIP, 1.33 WHIP and a 94-38 strikeout to walk ratio in 127.1 innings pitched this season. He has given up 4 runs or more in 10 of his 21 starts this season. His .292 BABIP and 65% strand rate tells me he has been unlucky this season, and a move to Chavez Ravine may be just what he needs to return to his prior near ace form. Pitching against the NL West lineups is a lot different that the AL East lineups, so his value increases in 2012 and beyond. Of concern though is the drop in his strikeout rate this season from 8.16 strikeouts per nine to 6.64 this season. I imagine it will see a jump moving to the National League and we could see Beckett perform much better on the hill.
Crawford is on the DL currently, so he has zero value for fantasy owners this season. But, heading into 2013 and beyond, his value stays the same, as even though he is moving from Boston to Los Angeles, a pitcher's park, it isn't like he hasn't hit in a pitchers park in the past. The dimensions are Tropicana Field are 370 ft to left and right center and 404 ft to straight away center field, so it is certainly not a hitters park. By comparison, Dodger Stadium is 385 ft to left and right center field and 410 ft. to center field. And Crawford isn't a power hitter, as he uses his speed to get on base.
Since his return from the DL, and before he elected to have Tommy John surgery, Crawford was hitting .282-.306-.479 with 3 HRs, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 23 runs, 19 RBI and 5 stolen bases in 117 at bats. Of concern for fantasy owners is his drop in walk rate from 6.9% in 2010, to 4.3% in 2011 and to 2.4% this season. I think Dodgers manager will instill on him the importance of taking pitches and working the count, and I could see him running more in LA with Davey Lopes coaching first base.
Punto is rosterable in only the deepest of mixed leagues and deep AL-only leagues, but doesn't provide much fantasy value whatsoever.
Loney was never able to hit for power in LA, but one can argue that he could show more power now that he doesn't call Dodger Stadium home. Here are Loney's career home/road splits per Baseball-Reference.com:
As you can see, his triple slash line away from Dodger Stadium looks much better than it does at home, and he has hit for more power. But, even then, he doesn't fit the mold of a power hitting first baseman. His value actually increases as a result of this trade, and maybe, just maybe, we could see him have another power streak like we saw the last two months of 2011, where his SLG hovered around .600.
For the remaining players involved in the deal, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus, I defer to John Sickels player profiles over on Minor League Ball, which he posted earlier this afternoon. Here is the link.
For me, I was not happy to see that RDLR was included in the deal, but that is the price of trading for one of the best all-around first baseman in the game.
Gonzalez is a year removed from a 6.6 WAR and had 3 straight years of 5.2 or better WARs prior to the 2012 season. Over the 3 year period from 2009-2011, only 7 players had a higher combined WAR than Gonzalez, behind only Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist. In addition, only 8 major leaguers have a higher WAR than Gonzalez since 2009.
For more on this blockbuster trade, check out True Blue LA here, here, here and here, Over the Monster here, here and here, and Baseball Nation here and here, for their reactions to the trade.