x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

No buyer's remorse after MLB blockbuster trade

Last year's big-time trade has changed Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers for the better, writes Gregg Patton.

Adrian Gonzalez, right, came to LA via Boston last year and has led Dodgers into first place. Stephen Dunn / AFP
Adrian Gonzalez, right, came to LA via Boston last year and has led Dodgers into first place. Stephen Dunn / AFP

Last August, Boston Red Sox were foundering and looking for a way to dump some high-priced players and start over.

Only one team were interested in rescuing them: the Los Angeles Dodgers. Suddenly flush with cash, courtesy of new ownership, and looking to re-establish themselves as a large-market, larger-wallet franchise, the Dodgers were more than happy to take on Boston's debt.

Big-name players Adrian Gonzalez, with an average annual salary of US$21 million (Dh77.1m), Carl Crawford ($20m) and Josh Beckett ($17m), as well as the utility man Nick Punto, joined the Dodgers, while the Sox accepted prospects and hunkered down for an off-season rebuilding their roster.

Over the weekend in Los Angeles, on the anniversary of the trade, the teams met in an inter-league series for only the third time in 12 seasons.

Or was it a celebration?

The biggest trade of 2012 has evolved into a pair of 2013 successes. Gonzalez, Crawford and Punto have helped fuel the story of the summer – LA's dramatic U-turn from last place with a 30-42 record on June 22, to 76-53 and a runaway lead in the National League West.

Meanwhile, Boston used the saved money to bargain shop for mid-level free agents. They added under-the-radar journeymen such as the first baseman Mike Napoli, the shortstop Stephen Drew, the outfielders Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, and the reliever Koji Uehara. The scaled-back approach did not impress the experts, most of whom picked the Sox to drop like an anchor in the American League East.

That never happened; Boston have been in first place most of the season and remain strong candidates for a post-season spot with five weeks to go.

"The trade changed the look of our club," said Don Mattingly, the Dodgers manager. "It's helped both teams. Adrian's been great. Punto has really helped, and Carl has been good when he's played. We're happy with it and [the Red Sox] are fine."

The teams likely will have different experiences the rest of the way. The Dodgers' astounding 46-11 run and the weakness of the rest of the NL West makes them a certainty for the post-season.

Boston are in a seven-team hunt for three American League division titles and two wild-card play-off berths, which makes Red Sox fans nervous, having witnessed numerous September meltdowns.

"If we just keep putting good at-bats together and having fun, we'll be fine," Drew said.

For one weekend, at least, one year after the Dodgers and the Sox rolled the dice, everyone in LA looked like winners.


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