Jan. 25, 2017
Dodgers Reaction: Front Office Did the Right Thing with Logan Forsythe
On Monday the Los Angeles Dodgers filled their hole at second base. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman struck a deal with his former employers, as the Dodgers acquired Tampa Bay Rays' second baseman Logan Forsythe. The cost wasn't cheap, as they had to deal consensus top-three prospect Jose De Leon to Tampa.
Like most moves that this front office has made during its tenure, this one was met with more than its fair share of criticism. In a vacuum, this was a very high price for the Dodgers to pay. Forsythe isn't a star by any means, and some believe De Leon could have that type of potential. De Leon struggled in the majors last year, posting a 6.35 ERA and 1.529 WHIP. Of course, that came in a four-start, 17-inning sample size. De Leon began last season in true Dodger fashion (hurt), as he missed April with an ankle injury. He made one start in May, and missed another month with shoulder inflammation. When he finally got healthy, De Leon posted a 2.61 ERA and struck out 11.6 batters per nine innings in his first season at Triple-A (16 starts, 86.1 innings).
Many people aren't very familiar with Forsythe. Playing in Tampa tends to obscure players, but Forsythe has been one of the more underrated players in baseball for a couple years. He has played over 100 innings at first base, second base, shortstop and third base in his career, along with some innings in left field and a few in right field. The 30-year-old broke out in 2015 with a .281/.359/.444 triple slash. He sacrificed some contact for some power in 2016 and saw his average drop to .264, but hit a career-high 20 home runs. He's not going to dominate defensively, but he should be at least average, which would be an upgrade for the Dodgers.
Forsythe hits right-handed and has fared better against left-handed pitching in his career, which was undoubtably a reason the Dodgers wanted him. The Dodgers were horrid against left-handed pitching last season, and Forsythe has a career .278/.343/.475 slash against lefties, which should help next season. Forsythe has one year left on his contract, but has a team option for 2018. The price for the option isn't set yet, but should be exercised unless Forsythe regresses hard.
Forsythe's option was $8.5m, but increased by $500k w/550 PA (567) in 2016. $500k more for each of 550 & 600 PA in 2017, & 1,100 PA in 16-17— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) January 24, 2017
The Dodgers were rumored suitors for Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier, but that clearly won't be happening. They reportedly couldn't come to an agreement on a package, as the Twins reportedly wanted two other high caliber prospects along with De Leon. Dozier's coming off a career year that saw him hit 42 home runs, so while the Twins were right to ask for the world for their one logical trade asset, the Dodgers were right to look elsewhere.
Dodgers Trade for Brian Dozier, Basically https://t.co/Pbhojt8GGo— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) January 24, 2017
De Leon was a fantastic prospect and could very well go on to a great major league career, but it was smart for the Dodgers to deal from a position of depth. The Dodgers had 15 pitchers make starts last year, and 11 of those guys made more starts than De Leon. Only two of those 11 are no longer with the team (Mike Bolsinger and Bud Norris). They start the season with Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda as the obvious rotation locks. Unless they limit his innings early on again, Julio Urias will likely be there as well. That's a very good five-man rotation that doesn't even include Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy, Ross Stripling, Hyun-jin Ryu or Brock Stewart. De Leon is the latest (and possibly best) MLB-ready prospect to be moved by the Dodgers, who also traded Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton at last seasons' trade deadline. With De Leon gone, their next-best pitching prospects are still a couple years away from being MLB-ready (Yadier Alvarez, Walker Buehler, Jordan Sheffield). If the Dodgers face a ton of injuries again, Chase De Jong and Trevor Oaks could be factors this year.
This is a rare trade that seems to be a win for each side. The Dodgers got a guy that solves a lot of their issues. They needed a right-handed bat that can hit lefties, a second baseman and a leadoff hitter. Forsythe certainly checks off the first two boxes, and despite a lack of stolen bases, all 125 of his starts last season came at the leadoff spot.
This is a trade that can bite the Dodgers in the end. Forsythe could regress to his pre-2015 numbers, but moving out of Tampa should help his offense. De Leon could go on to be an ace, but I'd take the under on that. This was an overpay, but it was an overpay the Dodgers could afford to make with their abundance of pitchers. They took their likely eighth option on the hill this season and turned him into an above-average second baseman, replacing Chase Utley and Kiké Hernandez, neither of whom showed much with the bat last season.
Other writers appear to see this in the same vein, that while it wasn't the sexy blockbuster that Dozier would have been, the Dodgers are a better team than they were yesterday and didn't cripple their farm. Here's a nice little excerpt from McCovey Chronicles, followed by some tweets from former teammates of Forsythe.
"If Forsythe just manages to post his 3.4 WAR from last year, he’ll be the most valuable Dodgers second baseman since Orlando Hudson in 2009. If he bounces back to repeat his 2015 season, he’ll be the most valuable Dodgers second baseman since Davey Lopes in 1975."
I'm really, really, really gonna miss Logie bear ????. Doesn't get more classy or blue collar than him. Happy I was able to play with that man.— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) January 24, 2017
Don't care about numbers/sabermetrics. The way Forsythe plays the game, his abilities, his leadership and the ultimate pro he is...— Jp Arencibia (@jparencibia9) January 24, 2017
Dodgers just got a star... one of the most underrated players in the game.— Jp Arencibia (@jparencibia9) January 24, 2017
Very sad day for me personally, I'm losing one of my best friends and we're losing one of our best players. Nothing but mad respect for him!— Steven Souza Jr. (@SouzaJr) January 24, 2017
#Rays Longoria on Forsythe deal: "I'm surprised and upset at losing a player, clubhouse presence and friend like Logan. He's a rare player''— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 24, 2017
If "Logie Bear" catches on, this trade is a huge win for the Dodgers. Either way, the fact that Friedman and Farhan Zaidi backed away from the Twins demands for Dozier while still improving the team shows that they're committed to winning and sustaining a solid foundation, which is something that can't exactly be said for past front offices. The Dodgers are a much better team than they were yesterday, and while this trade might not be great in the long-term, it was a move that had to be made.