Christiaan Barnard Transformer Award: The Red Sox Salary Dump
This special award is named in honor of the world's first heart transplant surgeon and goes to the Boston Red Sox for the Great Salary Dump of 2012.
In one bold move—thank you Magic Johnson and Friends—the Red Sox were able to jettison more than a quarter-of-a-billion dollars ($262 million or so to be exact) worth of contracts at the doorstep of the Dodgers via trade on Aug. 25. Simply put, as noted at the time—this wasn't a trade, but rather an organ transplant</a>.
As a double-transplant recipient, I'm overly-qualified to use this tasteless but apt and brutally descriptive analogy. The Red Sox had no other realistic option when presented with the chance to rid themselves of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Nick Punto came along for the ride.
Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett symbolized all that was wrong with the Red Sox, in various degrees. Crawford was overwhelmed by Boston, battled nagging injuries, carried the burden of a $142 million, seven-year contract with a deer-in-the-headlights look and under-unachieved on a historic scale. Gonzalez played with all the passion of J.D. Drew, was about as productive in the clutch, and found out that $156 million can't buy happiness when you're playing for the Red Sox and the team is fighting to stay in fourth place. Beckett was the Big Bang at the creation of the Chicken and Beer universe. Beckett didn't give a damn and it showed every time he pitched.
The Great Salary Dump of 2012 freed the Red Sox from three atrocious deals engineered by Theo Epstein (Ben Cherington was GM when the Red Sox first signed Beckett but Epstein re-signed him three times) and Larry Lucchino. The Red Sox’ payroll in 2012 peaked in the neighborhood of about $180 million. Even with the pending Napoli deal, it should settle around $125 million or so in 2013 once they fill out the roster.
Organ transplants are a last resort, when no other treatment will work. They carry tremendous risk and reward. They require extensive testing, screening and come at a great cost for both the donor and their families, and for the recipient. Organ donation is justifiably considered the ultimate gift.
In this case, it was the Dodgers who gave the Red Sox the "gift" by taking Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett off their hands. They didn't help. The Dodgers were two games behind San Francisco in the N.L. West they make the deal with Boston and finished eight games out and missed the playoffs. While Crawford could make a run at an NL Comeback Player of the Year Award if slotted properly in the Dodgers' lineup, Gonzalez and Beckett should continue their apathetic ways well into 2013.
Here's Beckett at his best in Los Angeles:
So long, fellas.