The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox consummated one of the wildest trades in baseball history, one of the biggest swaps of contracts in baseball history, and the biggest waiver deal of all time.
The trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto and $11 million for James Loney, Ivan De Jesus Jr., Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster radically alters Boston’s roster, ushering in a major overhaul. All the Dodgers did was completely rethink the way baseball teams spend money, and thus run their business.
Until now, every team in baseball has operated with a budget. The Yankees ($198 million this year) might be in a different universe from the Padres ($55 million), but both those teams set spending limits, then do their best to adhere to those limits. In taking on the gigantic contracts of Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett along with Adrian Gonzalez’s massive deal, the Dodgers have hinted that budget might not matter all that much to them. The ensuing press conference that the Dodgers brass held on Saturday made the team’s position even clearer.
“The value of this franchise is represented in the price we paid — that doesn’t go up or down with one or two players’ salaries,” said Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ principal owner and chairman. Walter was then asked if the Dodgers have a spending ceiling. “Somewhere, I suppose,” came his oblique reply. Then, the coup de grace. Someone asked Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten about the possibility of butting up against MLB’s very punitive luxury tax. “Mark and Magic don’t even ask me about that,” he said of his bosses’ instructions, or lack thereof.
Just like that, the Dodgers became the most dangerous team in baseball. Dangerous to other clubs in their ability to outspend the competition anytime they want. And dangerous to owners of baseball’s richest teams as well as the commissioner’s office, who risk having their excellent and wildly profitable scam exposed.
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