Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (28) singles in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
This doesn't mean the Dodgers have a new first baseman, nor does it mean Boston is without one. The Red Sox have three options here: negotiate with the Dodgers on a trade, simply let the Dodgers take Gonzalez along with the six seasons and $127 million left on his deal, or pull Gonzalez back and watch while the Dodgers see their dreams of replacing James Loney in-season slip out from their grasp. A fourth option -- Gonzalez blocking the trade with his limited no-trade clause -- doesn't apply, as the Dodgers aren't on Gonzalez's no-trade list.
The latter is very likely -- Boston isn't going to just let the Dodgers take a player they could trade to them this winter if they really wanted to be out from under his deal. The first bit is more likely than just letting him walk, but not by a whole lot, as the Sox and Dodgers have just 48 hours to work out a deal, and it would likely take longer than that just to convince the Dodgers that all their prospects are belong to Boston now.
The Red Sox want to get under the luxury tax for a season in order to reset the penalties, but unless the Dodgers and their new owners are also willing to take on huge chunks of money elsewhere -- Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, perhaps, to just blow the whole thing to bits and give general manager Ben Cherington a real fresh start -- then it's unlikely Boston is going to want to move Gonzalez to get below the tax threshold. Think of it this way: Gonzalez is making a whole lot of money, but relative to the other first basemen signing as of late, having him for just six years and $127 million is essentially a steal. That is, unless you like the idea of Prince Fielder for nearly a decade at over $200 million.
The Dodgers' willingness to take on a massive contract shows that the Sox do have a trade partner if they decide to go down this road later on, especially since moving Gonzalez would allow them to move the likes of Beckett if they feel that's necessary, without the eating of Beckett's contract causing too much payroll hassle. With that in mind, though, then Boston would also be without Gonzalez, who, despite his slow start in 2012, has hit .321/.382/.513 with Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base in his two years in town. That production will have to be replaced, and the act of replacing it will cost money.They also wouldn't be replacing him for just now, as it would also mean finding a new first baseman later on.
Travis Shaw has been intriguing during his run in the minors, but he's a ways off from the majors, and there are no guarantees he's going to be good enough for Boston. Same goes for Mauro Gomez, an interesting player who doesn't exactly scream first baseman of the future. If you're thinking that hey, Jarrod Saltalamacchia can play first base, letting Ryan Lavarnway become the primary catcher, remember that his bat is a bit above average for a catcher, not a first baseman, and that he's only in town for another year, anyway. That's a whole lot of emphasis on getting under the tax for one year at the expense of the immediate future.
So, unless the plan is to totally blow things up, then this just isn't a thing that's going to happen for the sake of making Beckett go away simpler. Blowing things up has its merits, but there hasn't been an indication that's a plan that's been seriously considered, either.
[Update 2:33 pm] For what it's worth:
When I asked a member of Red Sox front office a few minutes ago..are you trading Adrian Gonzalez to Dodgers next 48 hours?response "NO!!!"— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) August 24, 2012