The Tenth Inning – Week 21 – Adrian Gonzalez ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
By Mike Ivcic
By now youâve likely read plenty of columns and opinions on the Red Sox-Dodgers trade this past weekend. I could give you mine (good trade for both teams, not quite the slam-dunk win-win that some have portrayed it to be) but thatâs not really a worthwhile column. Instead, Iâm going to ask one simple question, the answer to which, when finally provided by MLB general managers, might completely change the way that front office personnel carry out their orders. Itâs a question that no columnist or analyst has asked, so allow me to be the first.
How in great wide world of sports did Adrian Gonzalez wind up actually getting traded to the Dodgers?
Let’s remember one key aspect of this trade â it happened after the July 31 trade deadline, which means one of two things happened for every single player involved in the deal. One, they completely cleared waivers, or two, the winning waiver-wire claim was placed by the team that consummated the trade. Thus, either Gonzalez and the rest of the group made it entirely through waivers, or they were claimed by the Dodgers.
Now, it’s probably not a huge shock in any way to see Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and even Nick Punto make it past all 29 teams without a claim. Between the poor performance, large contracts, or in Punto’s case the relative mediocrity of the player involved, there probably wasn’t a huge demand for any of the players. But Gonzalez is still a productive player (.300, 37 doubles, 15 homers, 86 RBI’s with Boston) so it’s puzzling that he was part of this deal.
For those that may be less familiar with the workings of the waiver wire, most teams place most of their players on waivers on August 1, just to see if they’ll clear. Once they pass through all 29 teams, they can then be dealt in the same fashion as they were prior to the trading deadline. If two or more teams do put in a claim, the winning bid is awarded to the team with the worst record. One little quirk to the wire, however, is that the two leagues still operate somewhat independently from each other, and any claim put in by an American League team on an American League player trumps any claim by any National League team, regardless of record. Thus, in order for the Dodgers to be the winning claim, every American League team declined to put in a bid for Gonzo, as did more than half of the National League teams.
To be fair, the Angels, Tigers, White Sox, and Yankees are fine at first base, and Gonzalez’s contract probably takes the A’s and Rays out of the running. The Orioles might have been able to claim him just to twist the screws on Boston, but they don’t really need another bat either. But it baffles me that the Rangers â who have shown no hesitation to add payroll and may lose Josh Hamilton this offseason â weren’t interested in adding another left-handed bat to what is a right-handed dominant lineup. Likewise, I’m a bit surprised that the man who brought Gonzalez to Boston in the first place â Theo Epstein â wasn’t interested in adding him to a weak-hitting Cubs lineup. It couldn’t be that prohibitive of a contract â after all, isn’t Epstein the one who wrote it? So to me, I’m just a little confused that Gonzalez was actually able to be dealt to the Dodgers. I would argue that a majority of baseball general managers fell asleep at the wheel on this one.
But what does it mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, if the Dodgers go on and win the West and make some postseason noise, it will completely alter the current mindset that adding payroll doesn’t always mean wins. Likewise, if Boston can undergo a quick rebuild with their new found money and imported LA prospects, suddenly shedding large contracts won’t be viewed as the worst game plan, regardless of how many years and how much guaranteed money remains. Perhaps the biggest change, however, is that with so many teams still believing in the postseason with the addition of the second wild card team, more teams will now be willing to gamble on claiming a high-priced waiver-wire player. Not only might it help a contender, but that very same contender could simultaneously block a big-time deal by placing that claim, thus the proverbial “killing two birds with one stone” idea.
At the end of all of this, there’s a good chance that, if baseball execs have learned their lesson, a trade like this will never happen again. Letting a prime player pass through the waiver wire that far is simply a bad baseball decision, regardless of the cost involved. You can bet the farm the Rangers won’t be too happy if Gonzalez pulls a David Freese in the World Series and helps the Dodgers to the championship.
Playoff “Dead” List
ee series to watch this weekâ¦
If the season ended today, the playoff teams would beâ¦
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