It's rare that a team can send three players to another team free of charge and have it be considered a fair and equitable deal, but that could well have been the situation for the Red Sox when it came to Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez.
As news began to break about the blockbuster as it was being hammered out between the Red Sox and Dodgers, Red Sox fans ran the emotional gamut. Now, say what you will about Twitter, but since the press began to truly embrace it, the social media platform has provided a more detailed look at trades and fan reactions to them. The blockbuster told a truly interesting story.
First, Gonzalez was claimed, and there was little interest. It was routine, after all, for players to be claimed and pulled back. Then Beckett was claimed, and things erupted. There was no explaining it, after all, unless there was a gentleman's agreement that the Red Sox would not accept their claim barring a wider trade. Otherwise, they'd just agreed to take on Beckett's full, awful contract. It was clear something larger was in the works.
Still, Red Sox fans were apprehensive. It couldn't be that the Sox would get rid of Adrian Gonzalez just to be rid of one year of Josh Beckett, could it? Then Crawford's name was added in, and suddenly it all made sense. Reactions were mixed, but there was plenty of rejoicing. It seemed like most would give up just about anything to be rid of the Carl Crawford hassle. If Adrian Gonzalez was the price, then so be it.
It's that sort of reaction which makes it all the crazier that this trade involved not three players, but eight, with the other five coming back to Boston.
First, there's James Loney. Not really a significant part of the bargain, Loney is little more than a warm body to fill first base for some of the remaining 30-odd games. A first-base version of Ryan Sweeney, Loney has simply never managed to translate his big frame into appropriate power at the plate, leaving his decent glove as his only real contribution at an offensively-demanding position. He will not last long in the organization, and is probably bound for a third-division team come the winter.
The least interesting of the four prospects would likely be Ivan De Jesus. Never a member of top-100 lists, De Jesus did at one point project for many to have a chance at a starting role in the majors, but lost a season to injury and hasn't regained what faith prospectors' had in him since. He's got little in the way of power, and while he does maintain a high OBP, that's the sort of thing that can evaporate in the majors without complimentary tools. There's an outside chance for De Jesus to develop into a usable middle infielder, but more like ly than not the Sox only have a utility man in him.
Jerry Sands is sort of the middle ground of the group. An interesting power bat who has quite a few homers to his name in the hitter-friendly PCL over the last two years, but with questions as to how much of it will carry over into the majors. He'll likely get a good look from the Red Sox for 2013, however, as he can fill in at either 1B or LF-both now positions of some need. Unfortunately, with his having been claimed off of waivers, the Sox will have to wait until 2013 to actually get him some playing time.
Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa are where the real meat of the haul lies. Intriguing power arms with a chance to provide the Red Sox with an answer to their middle-of-the-rotation woes, and perhaps even more. De La Rosa has missed much of the last two seasons with Tommy John Surgery, but is the rare combination groundball specialist and flamethrowing strikeout pitcher, capable of hitting the mid-90s with regularity and touching 98. His secondary stuff still needs some work, but even if it doesn't develop, the Sox likely have a lockdown late-innings reliever on their hands.
Webster arguably has the higher ceiling of the two, but perhaps also the greater concern, as he's definitely going to need to tighten up his control, but he's been improving in that regard, and for a pitcher who ended his highschool career a shortstop, Webster is a very impressive specimen on the mound. Some added weight/muscle will help him avoid the late-inning troubles that have bothered him, while maintaining similar velocity to Rubby.