Gonzalez's production offsets hefty price tag

August, 25, 2012
8/25/12
4:21
PM ET

US PresswireCarl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez are all heading to the Dodgers in exchange for James Loney and prospects.

In one of the biggest moves of the summer, the Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto on Saturday from the Red Sox in exchange for James Loney and a handful of prospects. But for Boston, the most important piece it received in the deal may be salary relief.

In all, the Red Sox moved over $262 million in guaranteed contracts beyond this season including $127 million for Gonzalez and $102.5 million for Crawford. The deal marked the first time in MLB history that two players were involved in a trade with at least $100 million remaining on their deals.

The Dodgers’ motivation to take on so much salary is pretty clear. Entering Saturday, Dodgers first basemen ranked among the bottom three in the National League in batting average (.244), RBI (55), and slugging (.357) and their collective on-base percentage of .289 was 29th in all of baseball.

The streaking Adrian Gonzalez should provide an immediate boost. Since July 1, Gonzalez is second in the American league in RBI (43), fourth in hits (61), and fifth in batting average (.345).

His 15 total home runs are slightly behind his career pace, but still more than triple the output of Dodgers’ primary first baseman, James Loney (4).

Beyond base statistics, the upgrade may be most apparent when considering wins above replacement. Gonzalez has been worth 2.4 WAR this season despite his early struggles, seventh among all first basemen. Loney, on the other hand, has been worth almost a full win below replacement (-0.9), second-worst among first basemen and worst in the National League.

On the mound, Josh Beckett and the Dodgers hope a change of scenery helps the righty find his old form. Beckett won over 65 percent of his decisions between 2006 and 2009 in Boston with six complete games. He has been a .500 pitcher in three seasons since with only one complete game. A big reason for the slide? His fastball.

Josh Beckett’s average fastball velocity has fallen in each of the last three seasons and the rate in which he throws the pitch has also gone down.

Only 49.3 percent of his pitches were fastballs in 2012 after having thrown the pitch nearly 54 percent of the time over the previous three seasons.

Carl Crawford is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he too is eager for a fresh start in L.A. Crawford posted career highs in home runs (19), runs batted in (90), and OPS (.851) during his final season with the Rays in 2010. In two seasons with the Red Sox, however, Crawford has 15 homers, 75 runs batted in, and a .711 OPS while battling a host of injuries.

The Dodgers enter play Saturday three games back of the Giants in the NL West and a game and a half back of the Cardinals for the final wild card spot. Will the additions be the catalyst of a postseason push? Only time will tell whether this mega-deal pays mega-dividends.

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