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Larry Lucchino on Bradfo Show reveals how close Red Sox were to keeping Adrian Gonzalez in 2012 blockbuster with Dodgers

Nick Neville
August 25, 2017 - 10:19 am

Exactly five years ago, the Red Sox and Dodgers engaged in a blockbuster trade the likes of which the baseball world had never seen before and likely will never see again.

Larry Lucchino, who was the president of the Red Sox at the time of the deal, joined the Bradfo Show to discuss the trade, its implications for both franchises and how the team wanted Adrian Gonzalez to remain in Boston.

“This was almost a perfect storm,” Lucchino said of the August 25, 2012 trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for five young players – only one of whom has played in the big leagues this year.

“It became clear that the key to the deal from their point of view became Adrian Gonzalez,” Lucchino said. “It wasn’t clear at the outset because we weren’t interested at the outset in trading Adrian Gonzalez. We thought that a deal could be made involving several players, but not necessarily including Adrian.”

In the midst of a disappointing season in which they finished with only 69 wins, the Red Sox were unable to finalize a deal with the Dodgers before the non-waiver trade deadline. But at the league meeting in August, Red Sox owner John Henry met with the Dodgers principal owner Mark Walter from Guggenheim Baseball Management and resurrected the deal.

“We thought that maybe a deal could be made without it involving Gonzalez and [Red Sox general manager] Ben Cherington certainly tried to do that, but it was really almost the coincidence of timing that there was an August meeting when John Henry was able to talk to Mark and Mark reiterated his desire to get a deal done,” Lucchino said.

Why the reluctance to trade Gonzalez?

He was Boston’s most consistent offensive player in both 2011 and 2012. In his only full season as a member of the Red Sox, the five-time All-Star batted .338 with 27 home runs, 117 RBI and finished seventh in the MVP voting in 2011.

“The hesitation was over departing with Adrian Gonzalez because we had given up some real talent to get him, including [Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony] Rizzo,” Lucchino said.

The deal worked out for both sides, as the Dodgers, who have 13 more wins than any other team in baseball, have made it to the NLCS twice since the trade, and the Red Sox won the World Series a year later.

“We were stunned that in one fell swoop we could eliminate so many future years of money,” Lucchino said. “And it seemed to coincide with our desire to rebuild, although we didn’t use that term.”

With newfound financial flexibility, Cherington was able to sign seven free agents in the offseason, including Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli, who contributed a great deal to the 2013 championship team.

When asked what he remembers most about the trade, Lucchino didn’t hesitate.

“I remember the bottom line,” he said. “We saved 262 million, 500 thousand dollars in future obligations. I remember that quite vividly. And I remember the championship that we won in 2013 that came form us having the financial ability and I remember John and [Red Sox owner] Tom [Werner]’s willingness to think big and do something big.”