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Josh Beckett, who has undergone surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome and a torn meniscus in his left knee within the past 10 months, tossed his first career no-hitter and MLB’s first of the season as he and the Dodgers shutout the Phillies 6-0. Beckett struck out Chase Utley looking on his career-high 128th pitch for the 24th no-hitter in Dodgers’ history and the first for the franchise since Hideo Nomo 18 years ago. This is also the first time the Phillies have been no-hit since the Cardinals’ Bob Forsch turned the trick in 1978 and the first time they have been held hitless in Philadelphia since the Montreal Expos’ Bill Stoneman did so at Connie Mack Stadium in 1969. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted on Twitter the Phillies have now been shutout five times in their last ten home games and six times in their last 18 games overall.
In other news and notes involving the Phillies and baseball’s East divisions:
- Could offensive help be on the way for the Phillies in the form of top prospect third baseman Maikel Franco? GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is a possibility. “We’ll see whether it’s the right thing for us and the right thing for him,” said Amaro. “We’ll kick it around.” Franco, ranked as the game’s 17th best prospect by Baseball America and 23rd by MLB.com, is hitting .301 in May with an OPS of .871.
- In the wake of Prince Fielder‘s season-ending neck injury, the Rangers have inquired about Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore, a baseball source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The source indicated to Ladson nothing is serious and Moore is one of many first baseman in which the Rangers have an interest.
- Johan Santana has a June 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Orioles, but Executive Vice President Dan Duquette says that date is not a concern, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s open for discussion,” Duquette said. “It’s a fluid situation.” Santana remains in extended Spring Training and has not pitched more than four innings in an outing, but Duquette says the 35-year-old left-hander “is making good progress, he is throwing his pitches.“
One year ago, the Red Sox shocked the baseball world when they hit the reset button with their massive blockbuster deal with the Dodgers. Today, Boston finds themselves atop of the AL East, something that very few could have predicted after they shed roughly $270MM in payroll. Alex Speier of WEEI.com has a fascinating article today on the trade that altered the direction of the club and the possible alternatives that could have also taken place. Here's a look at some of the highlights..
- One rumor prior to last year's non-waiver deadline had the Red Sox considering a swap of Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez with the Marlins. However, such a deal never came close. One source familiar with the talks said that Boston would done the deal straight up, but the problem was the difference in salary. Such a move would have required the Marlins to break out the checkbook as there was $37MM+ owed to Ramirez through 2014 and a whopping $110.5MM owed to Crawford through 2017.
- However, there were other proposed deals that had legs, particularly ones involving Josh Beckett. According to multiple industry sources, the Rangers and Red Sox explored a number of possible deals including one that had a framework of Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury going to Texas with the Red Sox getting left-hander Derek Holland. However, Beckett told WEEI's Rob Bradford that the talks never gained enough traction for the team to discuss the possibility of him waiving his no-trade rights.
- The Dodgers were among the clubs with interest in Beckett prior to the July 31st deadline and that was information that the Red Sox stored for later.
- The club's previous free-spending ways handcuffed them from even considering a run at Yu Darvish after the 2011 season. Of course, the blockbuster with L.A. gave them much more flexibility going forward. GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that a trade deadline deal like the Jake Peavy trade this year simply wasn't possible given the payroll constraints that the team previously faced.
- Boston considered using their prospects to help get out from under bad contracts, but they ultimately decided against that. "We'd made the decision long term, we were just going to need to start holding on to [top prospects] and figuring out what they could do," said one team official. "Instead of picking the right guy, keep them all in the tub and let them decide for us. Back when we were good, that's what we did."
- Up until the Dodgers deal happened, Cherington says that he wasn't planning on making any significant moves in August. There was some thought given to turning the Dodgers down and waiting until the offseason when they could revisit talks with L.A. and other clubs. However, Boston didn't want to let the opportunity to start fresh pass them by.
After failing to overcome numbness in his pitching hand, Dodgers righty Josh Beckett has elected to undergo season-ending surgery, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. According to Hernandez, colleague Bill Shaikin, and CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (links to Twitter), Beckett will undergo thoracic outlet surgery to relieve pressure on a compressed nerve in his neck.
Beckett's injury reportedly had the 33-year-old hurler contemplating retirement, but according to Hernandez he is expected to be ready for spring training next year. A former ace, Beckett has failed to rediscover his form since being shipped to the Dodgers in their post-trade deadline mega-deal with the Red Sox. Although he was strong down the stretch for L.A. last year, registering a 2.93 ERA in 43 innings, his start to 2013 saw a reversion to his early-2012 struggles. In 43 1/3 innings for the Dodgers before he was shut down, Beckett threw to a 5.19 ERA.
With Beckett no longer a candidate to bolster the Dodgers' rotation, the club may be even more inclined to explore the market for an outside addition. Though the team's top three rotation spots are well manned by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu, the back of the Los Angeles staff is filled with question marks. Regardless of what they do on the trade market, the Dodgers owe Beckett the remainder of his $15.75MM salary for 2013 and another $15.75MM for 2014.
The Dodgers managed to avoid being no-hit last night by Jason Marquis but that was about the only bright spot of a 6-2 loss to the Padres. Skip Schumaker broke up Marquis' no-hit bid with a two-out double in the sixth inning. It was almost exactly a year ago that the Dodgers were last held hitless, when six Mariners pitchers combined for the unique no-hitter on June 8, 2012.
Here's the latest from Chavez Ravine…
- Josh Beckett is confident that he will pitch again, though the right-hander isn't sure if he will have to undergo season-ending surgery, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. Beckett is battling numbness in his pitching hand and has already been shut down for the next four weeks. Beckett had been thinking about retirement in the wake of the injury, though he felt more optimistic since other pitchers had returned from similar issues.
- Left-hander Scott Elbert will undergo Tommy John surgery, the team announced. Elbert underwent elbow operations in September and January and appeared in eight minor league games this season as he attempted to rehabiliate his arm. A first round pick (17th overall) in the 2004 draft, Elbert posted a 2.32 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 2.33 K/BB rate over 66 relief innings in 2011-12.
- The Dodgers are likely to draft a pitcher with their first round selection (18th overall) in order to help restock their farm system after dealing several young arms over the past year, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports. "I feel better about our current depth than one might suspect, but I always try to get pitching and that's not going to change. We'll still try to get the highest-ceiling guy," said Logan White, Dodgers VP of amateur scouting.
- A Los Angeles judge has ordered the Dodgers ownership group to disclose details of its financial relationship with former owner Frank McCourt, The Associated Press reports. The Dodgers were looking to keep their connections to McCourt private as public disclosure could allegedly harm plans to build another stadium (possibly for an NFL team) on the land around Dodger Stadium, which McCourt and the Guggenheim group co-owns.
Yasiel Puig's legend grew last night after he smashed a pair of homers and knocked in five runs as part of a three-hit effort in his second big league game. That came on the heels of a game-ending outfield assist which capped a two-hit performance in his MLB debut. Here's more on the Cuban sensation and his Dodgers teammates…
- One international scouting director recently quipped to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that he's signed players that can do everything Puig does for a lot less than $40MM (Twitter link).
- A nerve specialist diagnosed Josh Beckett with nerve irritation that is affecting his arm and hand, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Beckett has been shut down and will not throw for four weeks. Last week, Beckett admitted that retirement has crossed his mind in the wake of the numbness in his pitching hand.
- Guggenheim Baseball Management, the entity which owns the Dodgers, is lobbying to keep the details of its financial relationship with former owner Frank McCourt private, writes Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. The belief is that details of the relationship could harm the chances of getting other sports teams to play on the land surrounding Dodger Stadium. That area has long been a preferred location for an NFL stadium, writes Shaikin. He adds that the new management's preference is to concentrate on improving the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium before turning their attention to the development of the surrounding land.
It was on this day in 1964 that Sandy Koufax threw the third no-hitter of his legendary career, blanking the Phillies in a 3-0 result. A fourth-inning walk to Dick Allen was the only blemish on Koufax's record in the game, though that was quickly remedied when Allen was caught stealing. Koufax finished his career with four no-hit games, second only to Nolan Ryan's seven no-nos in baseball history.
Here's the latest on the modern-day Dodgers…
- Three rival general managers tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the Dodgers would have to eat at least half of Andre Ethier's contract in order to trade the outfielder, or take on a bad contract in return. Ethier is a little over two months into a five-year, $85MM contract extension with the team but he has struggled this season and fallen out of favor with manager Don Mattingly.
- As reported in January, the Mariners contacted the Dodgers about Ethier though "that never got past a couple-minutes chat," according to Heyman.
- Yasiel Puig made an impressive Major League debut on Monday but he could've debuted on Opening Day had the Dodgers' outfield not already been full, GM Ned Colletti tells Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Colletti didn't mind sending Puig to the minors since he felt the 22-year-old still needed seasoning after receiving just 95 minor league PAs in 2012 and spending more than a year away from organized ball. “It really came down to him having to play the game,” Colletti said. “He needed repetition, game repetition, situational repetition.”
- Josh Beckett is battling "some kind of nerve thing" but won't require surgery, Mattingly tells reporters. Beckett's possible return didn't "feel like it's around the corner," according to the Dodgers manager (links are to Dylan Hernandez's Twitter account). Beckett has battled numbness in his pitching hand and was considering retirement due to the problem.
With the Angels welcoming back a healthy Jered Weaver in their attempt to turn things around, the Dodgers continue to receive more disappointing injury news. Here’s a look around baseball’s west divisions..
- Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett could be considering retirement, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Beckett’s recent bout with finger numbness apparently has the 33-year-old considering his future, “Any time something like that happens to your arm or you start losing feeling and stuff … you think about it for sure.”
- Promoting top prospect Yasiel Puig is just what the Dodgers need, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Puig could showcase his five-tool potential with Matt Kemp on the DL. Since signing as a high-profile Cuban free agent last year, Puig has hit for a .333/.411/.622 line in 258 minor league plate appearances.
- The Athletics sit in second place in the AL West, but one scout thinks the team can accomplish much more, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required). The club is currently 31-24, and Olney notes that this is a lineup where Yoenis Cespedes is the only player approaching star status. The scout says the A’s are his pick “to win the league”, citing their roster flexibility and depth.
Two weeks ago, the Marlins agreed to send basically every player making decent money on their roster to the Blue Jays for a package of prospects. The 12-player blockbuster became official a week ago, leaving Miami with just three players scheduled to make $2MM+ in 2013. Ricky Nolasco ($11.5MM) and Yunel Escobar ($5MM) could both still be moved before the end of the winter as well.
This isn't the first time the Marlins have torn things down and rebuilt from scratch, of course. They did it immediately following their 1997 World Series win, then again a few years after bringing home the 2003 World Championship. On this date in 2005, the team officially swung a pair of trades sending three of their highest paid players elsewhere.
Trade #1: Boston Red Sox
Josh Beckett, then just 25, was coming off a 3.38 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 178 2/3 innings for Florida. He earned $2.4MM in 2005 and was due a significant raise in his second trip through arbitration, plus the team was unlikely to re-sign him long-term when he hit free agency after 2007.
Beckett had significant trade value, so the Marlins took advantage by attaching then-31-year-old Mike Lowell to him in talks. If a team wanted Beckett, they had to take Lowell as well. The third baseman slipped to .236/.298/.360 with eight homers in 558 plate appearances that year, but more importantly he was scheduled to earn $18MM total from 2006-2007.
Few teams could meet Florida's demand for a young shortstop, but the Red Sox were one of them. The two sides worked out a seven-player trade that sent Beckett, Lowell, and Guillermo Mota to Boston in exchange for prospects Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey Garcia, and Jesus Delgado. The Marlins saved all $18MM owed to Lowell in addition to second- and third-year arbitration salaries for Beckett and a third-year arbitration salary for Mota. The trade worked out well for both teams as Beckett and Lowell helped the Red Sox to the 2007 World Championship while Ramirez developed into an MVP candidate and Sanchez became a rock solid innings-eater for the Marlins.
Trade #2: New York Mets
During the 2004-2005 offseason, Florida landed the top free agent slugger by signing Carlos Delgado to a four-year, $52MM contract with a fifth-year vesting option. The then-33-year-old hit .301/.399/.582 with 33 homers in the first year of the contract, good enough to earn him a sixth-place finish in the MVP voting. However, like the contracts of Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, Delgado's deal with the Marlins was heavily backloaded. He earned just $4MM in 2005, then his salary was scheduled to jump to $13.5MM in 2006, $14.5MM in 2007, $16MM in 2008, and potentially $12MM in 2009 if the option vested ($4MM buyout).
Rather than pay him that huge salary over the next three years, the Marlins traded Delgado to the Mets for three minor leaguers: Yusmeiro Petit, Mike Jacobs, and Grant Psomas. The Mets also received $7MM from Florida in the trade, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to the $48MM left on the contract. Delgado hit .265/.349/.505 with 100 homers during his first three years with New York, which was enough for the team to exercise his option even though it didn't vest. Jacobs had three decent years with the Marlins while Petit and Psomas flamed out, but the real get for the club was the $41MM in payroll savings. Combined with the Red Sox swap, the Marlins shed more than $59MM in contract obligations with these two moves seven years ago today.
If there was any doubt remaining that the Dodgers' new ownership group would drastically alter the franchise, it has now been completely eliminated. The Dodgers and Red Sox have officially completed a massive nine-player blockbuster trade that sends Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to Los Angeles for James Loney and four prospects.
The four prospects are right-hander Allen Webster, infielder Ivan De Jesus, outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands, and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa. The Red Sox will pay just $12MM of the over $270MM owed to Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez, and Punto, so their savings are considerable. Adding the four new players represents a substantial financial commitment by the Dodgers:
- Gonzalez will earn $21MM per season through 2016 and obtain a raise to $21.5MM for 2017-18. The total exceeds $130MM when accounting for the remainder his 2012 salary.
- Crawford will earn $20MM in 2013, $20.25MM in 2014, $20.5MM in 2015, $20.75MM in 2016 and $21MM in 2017.
- Beckett will earn $15.75MM per season through 2014.
- Punto earns $1.5MM per season through 2013.
With this trade as well as the previous acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Brandon League, Shane Victorino, and Joe Blanton, the Dodgers have absorbed more than $300MM in future payroll obligations in the last month or so. As Jeff Euston of Cot's Baseball Contracts notes (on Twitter), the club now has a $193.75MM in contract obligations for next season, $133.6MM for 2014, $90MM for 2015, $88.65MM for 2015, and another $90MM for 2016. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are now on the hook for just $45.6MM in 2013, $34.4MM in 2014, $12.75MM in 2015, and $2.45MM in 2016 (Twitter link).
Both Beckett (10-and-5 rights) and Crawford (limited no-trade clause) had to approve the deal, and Buster Olney of ESPN reports (on Twitter) that neither player asked for any kind of compensation to do so. The Dodgers were not included in Gonzalez's limited no-trade clause. Los Angeles claimed both Gonzalez and Beckett off trade waivers yesterday, plus Punto and Crawford both cleared earlier this month. Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times reports (on Twitter) that the Blue Jays are believed to have claimed De La Rosa off waivers, but he was pulled back and will technically be included in the deal as a player to be named later.
The Dodgers, who currently sit three games back of the Giants in the NL West race, are adding an impact left-handed bat to pair with the right-handed Matt Kemp in Gonzalez. The Southern California native spent the first five full seasons of his career a little further south with the Padres, so he's certainly familiar with the division. Gonzalez, 30, is hitting .300/.343/.469 with 15 homers in what is generally considered to be a down year compared to his career average of .294/.372/.509 and 30 or so homers annually. Dodgers' first basemen have hit just .244/.289/.357 this season, so even down year Gonzalez represents an enormous upgrade.
Beckett, 32, has pitched to a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts and 127 1/3 innings this season while battling thumb and back issues. His strikeout rate (6.6 K/9) is a career-low and PitchFX shows that his velocity has tapered off into the low-90s. Moving into the easier league and a more pitcher-friendly ballpark should help his numbers, and Beckett gives Los Angeles a pitcher with a proven playoff track record. Current Dodgers' starters have combined for just 11 career playoff starts, six by Blanton. Beckett alone has 13 playoff starts and a World Series MVP to his credit.
Crawford, 31, had Tommy John surgery two days ago and will miss the rest of the season. He hit just .260/.292/.419 with 14 homers and 23 steals in 161 disappointing games with the Red Sox after averaging .299/.340/.448 with 13 homers and 50 steals in eight full seasons with the Rays. Crawford is expected to be able to return to action early next season, meaning Victorino is likely to be allowed to leave as a free agent.
The Dodgers recently lost Jerry Hairston Jr. to a hip injury for the remainder of the season, so the 34-year-old Punto gives them some protection and added depth on the infield. He's hit just .200/.301/.272 with five steals in 148 plate appearances for Boston this year while playing all four infield positions. He's a year removed from a .278/.388/.421 line as a part-time player with the Cardinals.
Loney, 28, has hit just .254/.302/.344 with four homers in 359 plate appearances this season and will become a free agent this winter. He figures to serve as a stopgap first baseman for the Red Sox for the next six weeks or so.
Webster, 22, has pitched to a 3.55 ERA in 121 2/3 innings for the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate this season. The 25-year-old De Jesus has been up and down between Triple-A and the big leagues in recent years, hitting .301/.354/.416 in over 1,200 minor league plate appearances since 2010. Sands, 24, has been also been up and down these last two years. He owns a career .291/.363/.557 line nearly 900 Triple-A plate appearances. De La Rosa, 23, just returned from Tommy John surgery and pitched to a 3.71 ERA in ten starts and three relief appearances for Los Angeles last season. Click here for a more in-depth look at the prospects headed to Boston later today.
A trade of this magnitude had many helping hands along the way, though Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston first reported that the two sides were discussing this massive deal. Check out this post for all of the pre-completion rumors and reports. Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald and an Roche of WBZ (on Twitter) first reported completion of the trade while Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times added details (Twitter links). Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
3:35pm: An unidentified team has claimed right-hander Josh Beckett off of waivers, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reports (all Twitter links). One MLB executive believes the mystery team could be the Dodgers, but that hasn't been confirmed. Beckett can veto any trade or waiver assignment as a player with ten and five rights.
The Red Sox now have until Sunday to select one of three options. They can let Beckett (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull him back off of waivers. American League teams had claiming priority on Beckett.
McAdam suggests the Red Sox would probably allow the claiming team to take on Beckett and his salary — $15.75MM per season through 2014. He has posted a 5.23 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 127 1/3 innings this year, while facing considerable scrutiny for his on-field performance and off-field actions. The Rangers showed some interest in Beckett leading up to the July 31st trade deadline.
Gonzalez was claimed by the Dodgers today, but reportedly won't be traded unless the Red Sox obtain a substantial return.