By Ross Newhan
The question--one of several--confronting the Dodgers and Guggenheim Baseball over the next 72 hours is this:
Are they willing to take on Josh Beckett and the $31.5 million he is owed over the next two years in order to get Adrian Gonzalez?
In one of the most intriguing waiver situations in recent history, the Boston Red Sox have accepted the Dodgers waiver claims on Gonzalez and Beckett, and now they have those 72 hours to work out a trade for one or both players, or Boston can withdraw the waivers with no trade.
At 30, Gonzalez is owed $127 million over the next six years and is not having his best season--he is batting .300 with 15 home runs and 86 runs batted in--but the former San Diego Padres star is a vast improvement on the Dodgers duo of James Loney and Juan Rivera, figures to be energized by the return to the National League and the escape from a dissension riddled Red Sox clubhouse, and would provide the Dodgers with a legitimate Latino star, enhancing a lineup strengthened recently by Guggenheim's addition of Hanley Ramirez to go with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
The Dodgers have a shot at both the division title and a wild card berth, but if the Red Sox insist on Beckett being included--or they insist on the Dodgers giving up their two best pitching prospects: Zach Lee and Allen Webster--Guggenheim has a lot to weigh. Beckett, 32, has gone backwards and been hounded by injuries. He is 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA and has reportedly been trouble in the clubhouse. At $31.5 million--given the addition of Gonzalez and Ramirez--he would definitely put a load on Guggenheim's maneuverability during the off season, although at this point there is no other first baseball of Gonzalez' caliber in the next free agent market, and Beckett, too, could benefit by the change in venue.