Welcome to Los Angeles: Monster Adrian Gonzalez Deal All But Done

According to all sorts of reports this morning that I won’t link because A) they’re everywhere and B) internet time while traveling is limited, the massive Adrian Gonzalez deal is about to become official today, to which I can only say, wow. It’s so enormous that it’s difficult to wrap your head around, though for fans of chaos theory, I did enjoy the Twitter jokes that none of this would have happened if not for Dan Johnson and Roberto Andino on the last day of the 2011 regular season. (Look it up.)

As some of you know, I’m in Boston this weekend for a college friend’s wedding, and as you can imagine, running into ┬áso many Red Sox fans last night meant that we had much to discuss. The question I got most of all was, “so do you like this for the Dodgers?”

The more I think about it, the more difficult that question is to answer. My reactionary post last night was mostly done in the giddiness of the moment (Kemp/Ethier/Gonzalez/Ramirez!), and for 2012, I love the hell out of it. Salary concerns are mostly irrelevant over the remaining six weeks of the season, and none of the players going to Boston were likely to contribute to a 2012 playoff push; James Loney, if anything, was doing his best to hinder it. So for this season, what you’ve done is hugely upgrade at first base and add another starting pitcher, which now seems more timely given the concerns over Chad Billingsley’s elbow.

Long-term… well, it comes down to two things, prospects and money. (And, sorry, no specifics here for stats or dollars; this all comes off the top of my head thanks to limited time and crappy hotel wi-fi.) I think there’s a really good argument to be made that if the Dodgers were going to eat something like $130m of bad Beckett/Crawford money, and something like $260m overall, it shouldn’t have required so much talent going back to Boston. Simply getting out from under those burdens, along with a lesser package of players, would seem to be return enough.

On the other hand, I look at the players going back. Ivan De Jesus never had a future in LA and was basically irrelevant. I’m a huge Jerry Sands fan, but it’s not like I prefer him to Gonzalez and there seemed to be little chance the Dodgers were simply going to let him play an outfield corner every day, so his opportunities may have been limited. Allen Webster, I like a lot as well and more than ever this year, but if you’re getting Gonzalez and you can say you still have Zach Lee & Chris Reed on the farm, that’s a loss you can live with, from a position of depth.

If anything, it’s the loss of Rubby de la Rosa that’s going to burn. With as big an arm as we’ve seen coming up through the system in years, I truly believe that he’s going to be a star if he can make even a minor improvement in his control. We tend to forget how raw he is; he only has something like 300 professional innings under his belt. Like any pitching prospect, he’s far from a sure thing, and we’ve already seen him blow his arm out once, but that’s what this whole deal hinges on for me. He’s the one player going to Boston who really seems like he could be a superstar, and it’s always difficult to lose players like that.

Then again, if Gonzalez is as good as we hope he is and the Dodgers make a playoff run this year and in future years, we probably won’t care so much. As for the money, well, I think it’s foolish to say that Gonzalez’ deal is “bad”. If anything, 6/$127m is pretty reasonable in a first base market that’s seen Joey Votto & Prince Fielder get well over $200m.

The massive amount of money owed to Crawford & Beckett is another matter entirely, especially when it comes to future luxury tax issues. (It also presents an odd situation where the Dodgers have three outfielders signed through 2018, which could present some flexibility questions, especially if and when Yasiel Puig is ready.) We’ll need to dig more deeply into those another time, though I would argue that it’s not quite like signing Juan Uribe, because there was a time where each player was among the best in the game, before falling on hard times recently. Maybe it’s health; maybe it’s Boston; maybe they’re just cooked.

So how am I feeling about it today? I think Gonzalez is going to be an incredible fit in LA, especially considering that reports of his demise in Boston seem overblown (he was outstanding last year and has been very good for much of this year after a slow start) and that he never seemed to want to leave Southern California in the first place. It’s a high price to pay, but if he is what we think he is – and don’t forget, there was little available in the first base market next year, so if you’re spending money, this is how you do it – and the team becomes a consistent contender, I think it’ll be a price we can live with.

And if not? The next decade could get ugly, fast. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic, but mainly excited for the rest of the season.