By Jeff Louderback
It was a miserable 2012 campaign for the Boston Red Sox and their vast legion of feverish fans, but 2013 looks promising thanks to a lifeboat provided by the Los Angeles Dodgers last August.
The blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to LA freed the Red Sox of $272 million in salary obligations. The Dodgers are paying all but $11 million.
At Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, Red Sox fans should offer their appreciation for Magic Johnson and the Dodgers first-year ownership group for relieving Boston of the cumbersome contracts. When Christmas arrives, Red Sox enthusiasts should ask Santa to bring an extra bag of goodies for each member of the Dodgers ownership group.
Not only did the transaction give Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington a clean slate to construct an exciting contender for 2013 and beyond, but it also yielded some prospects who can help the club as early as next season.
One of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects this year, the 22-year-old Webster is projected as a No. 3 type starter in the majors and features a nasty sinker. He was added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Tuesday to protect him from December’s Rule 5 Draft. De La Rosa and Sands were already on the 40-man roster. De Jesus, who is a utility infielder, was designated for assignment on Tuesday as part of Cherington’s moves to make room for Webster and five other prospects on the 40-man roster.
The 23-year-old De La Rosa should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and has potential as a top of the rotation starter or a closer with his ability to reach the high 90s on the radar gun.
With the presence of De La Rosa and Webster, the Red Sox have added starting pitching depth to accompany Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales (both of whom will likely open the 2013 season in the bullpen if they are not traded), knuckleballer Steven Wright and highly regarded right-hander Matt Barnes.
The 25-year-old Sands is a right-handed power hitter who plays the corner outfield spots and first base. He has a chance to make Boston’s opening day roster and cold even serve in a first base platoon.
Over his last three seasons in the Dodgers organization, Sands has ripped 35, 29 and 26 home runs respectively. Like Jonny Gomes, who the Red Sox signed today to a two-year deal, Sands mashes left-handed pitching.
That the 25-year-old De Jesus was designated for assignment was a bit surprising, but the Red Sox have Pedro Ciriaco on the 40-man roster and he is slated to serve as the utility infielder next season.