Update: The Red Sox-Padres trade for Adrian Gonzalez is back on according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. It’s the original deal. They have not reach an agreement on a contract, at least not announced one. Heyman reports that the eventual extension will be a seven-year $161 million deal.
The reason they would wait to announce the extension is to save money on the luxury tax. Teams get taxed based on the average annual value of the deal. If a deal was announced today the Sox would have to pay tax on $20.875 million, instead they will only have to pay tax on $6 million.
Original post: Going into this weekend the Red Sox made a big splash. They landed themselves on of the primer young players in baseball in Adrian Gonzalez while the Yankees were busy signing old farts like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.
Obviously I’m joking a bit about Jeter and Rivera, but the Gonzalez trade was a huge coup.
The deal was Gonzalez for prospects RHP Casey Kelly, 1B Anthony Rizzo, OF Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later. Three of the Red Sox top six prospects, but all three prospects were young, at least two years from the majors and no sure thing to become stars. If you can get a player of A-Gon’s value for three very young prospects like that you do it every time.
The only problem came when the Red Sox went to negotiate a contract extension. Gonzalez, still a year away from free agency, wasn’t looking to give the Sox a discount. He wanted Mark Teixeira/Ryan Howard money, but the Sox weren’t willing to pony up the dough. So the deal, contingent on a contract extension, fell through.
Not a big deal though, they still have all offseason to work out a deal with Gonzalez if they want and can always discuss a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for their first baseman Prince Fielder. Not to mention the fact that Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford were still on the market as well.
Then something happened. The Washington Nationals signed Werth to a seven-year $126 million deal. All of a sudden things change.
Werth, a right handed hitter, made more sense to the Red Sox than Crawford, a left handed hitter, because of their left handed heavy lineup – especially if their ultimate target is lefty Gonzalez.
Aside from that, whomever signs Crawford now is going to have to pay out the wazoo. Crawford is generally considered better and younger than Werth so if Werth is getting that kind of money on the market then Crawford has to get getting at least as much. Gonzalez too gains more leverage over the Sox because there are now fewer impact bats on the market.
So in 24 hours the Sox went on the brink of landing Gonzalez and putting themselves in a great position to have an amazing 2011 lineup by adding Werth as well. To a team that is going to have to scramble, and spend money, to break even.
After all, Adrian Beltre had an amazing season last year and so did Victor Martinez. Beltre is still on the market, but unlike last season he is not going to settle for a one-year deal. So if the Sox sign him it essentially takes them out of the market for A-Gon, Fielder, and even Pujols. But his production, and V-Mart’s, is going to have to be replaced.
After the Werth deal it won’t be cheap to do so either. Free agents will become emboldened. Seeing the money Werth got they are going to want to cash in as well. It also could force the Orioles hand as well. Now that they see the Nats making a splash by overpaying they may realize what they have to do to land a big fish as well.
All in all, it has been a bad weekend for the Red Sox. And a great weekend if you are a Yankees fan.