BoSox send Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford to Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are stocking up for the stretch run with

some new, expensive players who couldn’t help the Boston Red Sox

make it to the postseason this year or last.

The Dodgers acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh

Beckett and injured outfielder Carl Crawford from Boston on

Saturday, hoping to boost their playoff hopes by taking on the

underperforming and high-priced stars who failed to thrive in a

fractious Red Sox clubhouse.

Boston also sent infielder Nick Punto and about $11 million in

cash to Los Angeles in the nine-player trade that was the biggest

in Dodgers history. In return, the Red Sox got first baseman James

Loney, pitcher Allen Webster, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. and two

players to be named while shedding more than $250 million in

salaries through 2018.

”We understand that you have to spend money to be good in this

league,” said Magic Johnson, the former NBA star who is part of

the rich new Dodgers ownership group that has dramatically revamped

their roster in the last month.

”When we came in, we made it clear that we want to build the

Dodgers back to what they once were,” Dodgers president Stan

Kasten said.

Gonzalez hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat for the

Dodgers, while the depleted Red Sox blew a six-run lead to the

Kansas City Royals and lost 10-9 in 12 innings Saturday night.

Mauro Gomez, filling in for Gonzalez at first base, had four

hits, including his first major league homer. But Aaron Cook, a

late substitute for Beckett, gave up three runs before recording a

single out, and after Boston rallied to take a 9-3 lead the bullpen

couldn’t hold it.

Kansas City scored six in the seventh, all with two outs.

”It was frustrating,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.

”We couldn’t get that third out in the seventh inning. Had about

four tries.”

Los Angeles, two games behind the San Francisco in the NL West,

has in the past month acquired shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielder

Shane Victorino, starter Joe Blanton and reliever Brandon League.

The latest deal comes less than a week before the Aug. 31 deadline

for players to be eligible for the postseason.

”It’s just exciting,” Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said.

”Everybody wants to win, and the guys up there are really making a

statement and showing us that they want to win just as bad as we

do.”

For the Red Sox, 13 1/2 games back in the AL East, the trade

signaled a concession for 2012 and a chance to rebuild without

hefty contracts given during an undisciplined foray into free

agency that, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington conceded, has

not worked out.

”It gives us an opportunity to build the next great Red Sox

team,” Cherington said. ”We just felt like to get to be a team we

believe in and a team the fans deserve, to sustain winning year

after year, it was going to take something more than cosmetic

changes. It was going to take something bold.”

The Red Sox will save $261 million in salaries through 2018,

plus a few million more for the rest of this season. Boston will

send $11 million to the Dodgers as part of the deal, according to a

baseball official with knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition

of anonymity because the financial terms were not public.

”The bottom line is we haven’t won enough games. That goes back

to last September,” Cherington said. ”We just haven’t performed

on the field. As a team we haven’t performed. … This is not about

the four players we gave up – anything particularly they did wrong.

We just didn’t perform as a team.”

Beckett was a key part of the team that won the 2007 World

Series, but he was also the ringleader last year when the ballclub

went 7-20 in September and missed a playoff spot on the final day

of the season. Reports of players drinking beer and eating fried

chicken in the clubhouse during games surfaced afterward, and

Beckett’s haughty demeanor – and rising ERA – continued to alienate

fans.

The 2003 World Series MVP with the Florida Marlins, Beckett now

moves from fried chicken to the land of In-N-Out Burger, bringing

with him a pair of other players who were not productive enough to

justify their contracts. Beckett was due $31.5 million over the

next two years; Gonzalez has $127 million coming through 2018;

Crawford is due $102.5 million over the next five seasons.

Both Cherington, who replaced Theo Epstein after the September

collapse, and Valentine, who was brought in to replace Terry

Francona, defended their departing players. But Valentine agreed

that change was needed in the clubhouse.

”Yes. It was necessary,” he said. ”(It) just didn’t seem like

it mixed as well as it should.”

Players traded in August have to first pass through waivers. Any

team with a worse record than Los Angeles could have claimed

Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford before the Dodgers, but it would

have had to pick up their contracts.

Instead, the teams worked out a deal that reshuffled the NL West

race and had the rest of baseball talking, too.

”It’s surprising,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

”You’re not used to seeing that many big names go in one trade – a

bunch of All-Stars, guys who have been in World Series and played

at a very high level.”

Red Sox players said before Saturday night’s game against Kansas

City that they were surprised to see their longtime teammates gone

in a deal that came together quickly. Gonzalez, Beckett and

Crawford were already on their way to Los Angeles on Saturday,

according to a picture Punto posted on Twitter; Boston pitcher John

Lackey had already claimed Beckett’s locker, pulling rank over Clay

Buchholz.

”Nothing surprises me in this game,” Red Sox outfielder Cody

Ross in the Fenway Park clubhouse, where the nameplates had already

been removed from his former teammates’ lockers. ”This isn’t your

normal trade. This is a blockbuster deal that will probably go down

as one of the biggest, but it still doesn’t surprise me.”

Gonzalez, a former San Diego Padres star, said on Twitter in

English and Spanish that he was excited to get back to California.

Beckett joined the social media site to thank Red Sox fans, writing

”Even in the tough times I ran into so many wonderful people that

were so awesome I’m Greatly appreciative to all of you.”

The 32-year-old Beckett is 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts

this season. A three-time All-Star, he is 130-92 lifetime with a

3.93 ERA.

Gonzalez, 30, is a four-time All-Star and a three-time Gold

Glove winner. He hit .300 with 15 home runs and 86 RBIs this

season, his second since being traded by San Diego to Boston.

Crawford, at 31, hit .282 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 31

games this season. He had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow this

week and is expected to take six to nine months to recover.

Crawford was a four-time All-Star with Tampa Bay before signing

with Boston.

The 34-year-old Punto hit .200 with one homer and 10 RBIs as a

backup.

Loney hit .254 with four homers and 33 RBIs for the Dodgers this

season. At 28, he’d spent his whole career in Los Angeles.

The 25-year-old DeJesus was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. He

hit .273 in 23 games for the Dodgers this year. Webster, a

22-year-old right-hander, was 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA at Double-A

Chattanooga.

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this

report.