As we wait for the I’s to be dotted and T’s crossed on the most transformative Red Sox trade in, well, maybe ever, here are 10 thoughts to chew on as we try to process what this means for the team now and in the future.
1. The offseason has begun for the Red Sox and the message is clear: clean house.
Unloading Josh Beckett ($31.5 million owed after this season) and Carl Crawford ($102.5 million owed over the next five seasons) is a huge first step in reducing big costs and big risks, though losing Adrian Gonzalez ($127 million owed over the next six seasons) is going to leave a huge void for the Red Sox to fill.
Those three were the three highest-paid players on the Sox payroll this season.
If the deal goes through, it will be the first time in baseball history that two players were involved in a trade with $100 million each remaining on their contracts.
Prior to this, only one player was ever traded with $100 million left on his deal. Alex Rodriguez had $179 million remaining when he was dealt on Feb. 16, 2004, from the Rangers to the Yankees.
2. After acquiring Gonzalez and Crawford just days apart in December 2010, the Red Sox immediately became the favorites to win the 2011 World Series.
For the first five months of 2011 (give or take their slow start in April), the Red Sox lived up to the billing.
But since Sept. 1 of last year, it’s been all downhill:
3. ESPN baseball insider Buster Olney suggested Friday night that perhaps the biggest beneficiary in this deal might be David Ortiz. The Red Sox will have plenty of money to spend this offseason and the designated hitter will be seeking a multi-year deal again.
There’s no question the Sox will be under pressure to spend, as Olney notes. Should they spend it on Ortiz, who will be 37 when next season begins? He was having one of the best seasons of his career before an Achilles strain sidelined him.
4. One name sure to be associated with the Red Sox in the coming months is Josh Hamilton. The team will be seeking a cornerstone outfielder and Hamilton is set to hit the free-agent market this winter.
Hamilton is one of the premier power hitters in the game -- 34 homers and 107 RBIs already this season -- but also comes with baggage. Would you like to see the Red Sox take a chance on him with a big-money deal?
5. The Sox will have plenty of needs this offseason: A first baseman, a No. 3 hitter, a starting shortstop, two starting pitchers and perhaps a closer, Olney notes.
How do you think the Red Sox should spend their money this offseason? Which should be the priority? And how do they prevent more bad contracts?
6. Olney also noted via Twitter that the belief within the organization is that this deal would signal the end of a run that started in 2003, a 10-year stretch that saw the team make the playoffs six times, the ALCS three times and win the World Series twice.
Olney writes it’s a sign the team is getting back to focusing on scouting and development rather than spending big money on proven talent, a risky strategy that got them into the mess they’re trying to get out of.
Former Sox general manager Theo Epstein used to say the goal for the Sox was to be like the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s, a consistent winner built through the draft and player development. In recent seasons, the team’s strategy has more closely resembled that of the big-spending Yankees.
If anything, this deal seems to indicate a belief in general manager Ben Cherington to get the team back on the right path.
7. What does this expected deal say about Bobby Valentine? What does it say about the makeup of this year’s Red Sox and the decisions made after the debacle of last September?
Is Valentine off the hook? Does this move increase the chances of him being back next season?
8. Speaking of the 2013 Red Sox, it would seem, barring a spending spree this offseason, there will be a lot of young faces on the field.
You could be seeing 22-year-old Jose Iglesias at shortstop, 24-year-old Ryan Kalish in the outfield, 25-year-old Ryan Lavarnway at catcher (or Jarrod Saltalamachia, who is 27) and 23-year-old Will Middlebrooks at third. Combine that with incumbents Dustin Pedroia (29) and Jacoby Ellsbury (28), and you’ve got at least six everyday players in their 20s (with perhaps more).
Could this be the start of a new era for the Red Sox? And if so, is that something you’re encouraged by?
9. What place in history? The blockbuster that sent Nomar Garciaparra packing and brought in Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz in midseason 2004 was one of the sparks that set the Red Sox on the path to the World Series that season.
Do you think this deal has the potential to have a more lasting impact than that one? Not for this lost cause of a season, obviously, but going forward?
10. And finally, though not directly related to the potential trade, here’s a look at what got the Red Sox to where they’re at today:
Information from ESPN Stats & Info was used in this report.