So often, and of course in our Twitter-infused, must-have-it-now sports world, we want to know immediately what will be the impact of things like big trades. Who won the Josh Beckett-Adrian Gonzalez-Carl Crawford to Los Angeles fiasco of a trade? You couldn’t listen to sports-talk radio the next day without being inundated with that question, and 25 different answers from 25 different talking heads.*
*Of course, if you’re listening to sports-talk radio, you’re kind of asking for that type of punishment, aren’t you?
We obviously don’t know who will end up winning that trade. Heck, it’s still hard to tell who won the first big Beckett trade.
But with Beckett and Hanley Ramirez (the main player he was traded for the first time) coming full circle and ending up as teammates out on the left coast, it seemed like a good time to look back and check out the trickle-down effects from that deal that are still being felt.
The original deal was Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota heading from Florida to Boston for shortstop prospect Ramirez, young pitcher Anibal Sanchez and minor leaguers Harvey Garvey and Jesus Delgado. It took place during the offseason before the 2006 season.
Beckett was in the last year of team control and about to hit free agency for the first time after the 2006 season, but during July of that year, the Red Sox signed him to a three-year extension. This wasn’t a given for the Red Sox when they made the trade, but the likelihood of them being able to come to a deal with Beckett had to have been pretty good for them to give up their top prospect in Ramirez and an arm like Sanchez’s.
The deal worked out well for both sides.* Ramirez went on to post a 32.5 WAR over six-plus years before being sent to Los Angeles this season in a deal that was more about his moping than his abilities, while Sanchez earned the Marlins 13.4 wins above replacement during roughly the same time period before leaving this season in a separate deal.
On the Red Sox side, Beckett turned in a WAR of 26.8 and they also got an unexpected 10.4 WAR out of Lowell, who was basically considered a salary dump by the Marlins.
From a strictly numerical standpoint, the Marlins won the WAR*, but no one has ever put a numerical value on winning a World Series, expect maybe the team owners who made a ton of money off the impending Red Sox dynasty that came with winning their second title in four years. Beckett and Lowell were key contributors on a World Series winning team, so that has to be worth the difference in WAR right? The Red Sox gave up a lot in Ramirez, but was it not worth a championship? You won’t find too many people in Boston who regret that deal.
*sorry, I couldn’t help myself
But the trade can’t be fully evaluated based on just those four players. The Red Sox have turned Beckett into more prospects, as have the Marlins with both Ramirez and Sanchez.
Beckett was sent to Los Angeles last month, along with Gonzalez, Crawford and Nick Punto in a deal that returned James Loney, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Allen Webster and eventually Rubby de la Rosa and Jerry Sands, once they are able to be named later. Beckett wasn’t the main draw for the Dodgers in that deal, but he’s not chopped liver either, so he gets at least a little credit for part of the Red Sox return.
Soon after Boston acquired Mota, and before he ever suited up for the Sox, he was flipped to Cleveland, along with prospect Andy Marte, catcher Kelly Shoppach and minor leaguer Randy Newsome for Coco Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske. Marte was probably the main part of that deal for Cleveland, but Crisp became a seven win player during his time with the Red Sox before being flipped to the Royals for reliever Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez was later traded to the Giants for minor leaguer Daniel Turpen, who never made it to the majors, but Ramirez was worth a half-win for the Red Sox during his time with the team. That’s an additional 7.5 wins for the Sox, for which at least a portion of the credit goes to the Beckett trade.
On the Marlins side, most of their action came this season. After their all-in approach crashed and burned, the Marlins began to sell their players for parts, and the grumpy Ramirez was among the first to be put on the block.
After six-plus years of Ramirez, the Marlins turned him and reliever Randy Choate into pitching prospect Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. The book is still wide open on their contributions to the Marlins. The same goes for the three prospects the Marlins got back for Anibal Sanchez: Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn.
So what’s the tally in the end?
The Red Sox got six mostly strong years from Beckett, a few good years from Lowell, some solid pay from Crisp, and whatever Webster, de la Rosa and Sands turn into in exchange for Ramirez, Sanchez, Marte (Crisp deal, who turned into nothing) and a couple of good seasons from Shoppach. Oh, and they got a World Series ring out of it, too.
The Marlins got six mostly good years of Ramirez, a few good years from Sanchez, and whatever Turner, Brantly, Flynn and Eovaldi turn into in exchange for one more year of Beckett (who wouldn’t have re-signed in Florida) and Lowell, whose contract they couldn’t afford anyway.
We still don’t know who won the trade, which wasn’t the exercise here anyway. Six years later, the Marlins have only a collection of prospects to show for their deals, but that could be better than what the Red Sox have left. The Red Sox, however, have the jewelry to claim a victory.
I’m going to do this exercise once a week with a major trade from some time in the last decade, not in an attempt to determine a winner and loser (although if there is an obvious one, I’ll point it out), but rather to look at the dominoes that continue to fall today from the trades we remember from years back.