(Reuters) - The Boston Red Sox have traded starting pitcher Josh Beckett, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that could reshape both clubs, the Major League Baseball teams said on Saturday.
Along with their three highest-salaried players, the Red Sox sent infielder Nick Punto and cash considerations to the Dodgers.
In return, Boston will receive first baseman James Loney and four prospects - second baseman Ivan De Jesus, pitcher Allen Webster and two players to be named later.
The deal is expected to bolster the Dodgers’ playoff hopes while giving the Red Sox flexibility in the years to come.
“I think we recognize that we are not who we want to be right now,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, whose team entered Saturday at 60-66 and 13.5 games out of first place in the American League East, told MLB.com.
“We needed to make more than cosmetic changes. ....To build that we need ... required more of a bold move to give us an opportunity to really reshape the roster, reshape the team.”
The move will save the Red Sox approximately $270 million in salary with Boston sending Los Angeles about $12 million in cash, MLB.com said.
The Boston Globe called the swap ”arguably, the most historically significant trade the Sox have made since selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees (in 1919).
“That trade changed the franchise for the worse. This deal offers the opportunity for the Red Sox to remake a team that has been in steady decline since the 2007 World Series title,” the newspaper said on its website.
The nine-player trade was the largest ever by Los Angeles.
“We continue to do everything in our power to strengthen our team for the stretch drive in an effort to reach the post-season,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement.
He added the trade could help the team for many seasons to come.
Gonzalez should be an immediate help for the Dodgers and was in the line up against the Miami Marlins on Saturday.
The four-time All-Star is batting .300 with 15 home runs and 86 runs batted in.
Three times All-Star Beckett, a key player in the 2007 World Series win, has struggled this season, going 5-11 with a 5.23 earned run average in 21 starts.
The injured Crawford appeared in only 31 games for Boston this year because of a left elbow injury for which he had surgery this week.
He has a lifetime batting average of .292 in 11 Major League seasons with four All-Star appearances.
Punto hit .200 with one homer and 10 runs batted in as a backup.
Loney arrives in Boston with four home runs this season. He is hitting .254 with 33 RBIs.
Writing by Gene Cherry and Ben Everill; Editing by John Mehaffey and Gene Cherry