Crawford might be the biggest disappointment of them all. There was hope that Los Angeles could be an environment for him to get his career back on track, but it never materialized.
He had a good 2014 season, hitting .300 with a .339 OBP, but the rest of his Dodgers tenure was filled with injuries and underachievement. Crawford was ultimately released in June of 2016, and is currently a free agent. His BA and OBP improved with the Dodgers compared to his time in Boston, but he was never able to return to being the star he was in Tampa Bay.
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Gonzalez has been the real prize of this trade for the Dodgers. He lead the league in RBIs in 2014, although most of his statistics have declined since joining the Dodgers.
Not counting his 59 games with the Texas Rangers as an inexperienced prospect, his numbers with Los Angeles look like the worst of any of his stops. Of course, he first got to L.A. when he was 30 and now he’s 34, so natural aging could be playing a role in that.
Comparing his stats in San Diego, Boston, and Los Angeles, Gonzalez has his lowest career BA, OBP, SLG, and OPS in Los Angeles.
He’s still a great player, but certainly not the same slugger he used to be. He has a lot of mileage under him at this point.
In hindsight, there was a big risk attached to this trade, not just because of the dollar figures involved. Each of the main 3 guys was over 30 at the time, and to act like it’s a surprise that their numbers began declining sounds very naive.
I exclude Beckett from that indictment in terms of production, but injuries are still a heightened risk for players in their 30s. What can’t be debated is that none of those players elevated their games after joining the Dodgers. Beckett could have, but unfortunately was robbed of that chance.
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It’s hard to make a case that the Crawford part of this deal was anything other than a complete disaster. He was paid $19.5 million in 2012, and he’s still owed about $21.9 million for 2017, and he’s not even on the team anymore.
[graphiq id=”AL0Dd1OWUd” title=”Los Angeles Dodgers 2016 Payroll Obligations” width=”600″ height=”463″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/AL0Dd1OWUd” link=”http://mlb-teams.pointafter.com/l/28/Los-Angeles-Dodgers” link_text=”Los Angeles Dodgers 2016 Payroll Obligations | PointAfter” ]
Gonzalez has served as the Dodgers’ best hitter for most of his time in L.A., but he’s a watered down Gonzalez compared to his prime with the Padres. The amount of money that the Dodgers had to take on and the little payoff they have gotten relative to that hefty total makes it hard to say that the trade was a good idea.
It made sense at the time, but not many people anticipated Crawford’s rapid demise or Beckett’s injuries. Gonzalez’s proficient power numbers aren’t enough to justify this trade. Missing on players with large contracts isn’t as debilitating as it is in sports with salary caps, but ownership groups don’t have unlimited money to spend.
The Dodgers still have to operate on a theoretical budget, even if that budget is the biggest in the entire league. The Crawford deal is going to go down in history as one of the worst contract situations baseball has ever seen.
The Red Sox look like geniuses in hindsight, but without working some revisionist history into this discussion, a pretty loud consensus was that the Dodgers stole these players from the Red Sox.
In terms of talent they certainly did, because none of the players they sent away ever contributed much for the Red Sox. Loney was hyped to be an eventual batting champion as a prospect with the Dodgers, but never became more than a solid contact hitting first baseman with some of the least amount of slugging ability among primary first baseman.
It was assumed that Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett would become stars in Los Angeles. Gonzalez did, but not the other two.
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Even if the Red Sox hadn’t have won the World Series in 2013, they’d still probably be the winners of this trade based on the Crawford collapse alone. Losing Gonzalez was unfortunate for them, but Napoli provided enough production at 1B so that it wasn’t a devastating loss.
Again, it really goes back to that massive Crawford contract. The Red Sox probably realized that they had made a huge mistake by giving Crawford that much money. They wisely cut their losses, and the Dodgers had the money to take a chance on Crawford rebounding. It clearly didn’t happen, and that’s probably the deciding factor in who won this trade.
With blockbuster deals like these, the proof is in the pudding, with the pudding being team success.
Baseball transactions are so interconnected that it’s hard to say that the Red Sox would have still won that World Series in 2013 if Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett were still there. It proved to be addition by subtraction, and different players were able to step up and produce.
Even if the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series, but all of the players involved in the trade still had their same exact performances in this hypothetical scenario, it really comes down to whether having to essentially eat Crawford’s contract was worth getting Gonzalez.
If your answer is yes, then the Dodgers won the trade from a purely on-field talent perspective.
If your answer is no, then the Dodgers lost the trade, regardless of the Red Sox’s collective success and World Series win.
The trade marked a turning point for each of the franchises, and it’s fascinating to look back on 4 years later.
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