Grading the Trades - Dodger Edition 2016
Heading into the All Star break, it was considered wishful thinking that the Dodgers had a chance of repeating as the NL West Division champs. Sitting 6.5 games back from the San Francisco Giants, and still recovering from the reality that their ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw was on the disabled list, the Dodgers could have sunk into mediocrity and no one would have been surprised. Instead, relying on timely hitting, a strong bullpen and a next man up mentality of starting pitchers, the Dodgers were able to finish the 2nd half of the season with a 40-31 record, capturing their 4th straight NL West Division crown. Looking back on what has been a great ride in Vin Scully’s final season with the Dodgers, I evaluate the trades made this season and their ability to help the Dodgers win this October.
Frankie Mantas, Grant Holmes & Jharel Cotton ? Josh Reddick and Rich Hill (A’s)
In a move that signaled that the Dodgers are in win-now mode, the Blue Crew was able to make a trade for their biggest need on the team, starting pitching. With an understanding of the A’s inability to keep top talent due to budget constraints, the Dodgers were able to offer up some of their young prospects in return for the starting pitching depth that they would need come October. While Josh Reddick has added some confusion as far as the Dodgers log jam in the outfield with Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Howie Kendrick, Andrew Toles, Rob Segedin, and Andre Ethier, the fact that they were able to add Rich Hill to the starting rotation made this deal worth it. While there were some concerns initially because of Hill’s blister issue in his hand that kept him from making consistent starts every 5 days, Dave Roberts has done a tremendous job of managing the timing of his starts resulting in a 1.83 ERA over his 6 starts with the Dodgers. With a healthy Hill entering postseason play, the Dodgers have an opportunity to show that there was wisdom in their decision to not re-sign Zack Greinke while still making moves that puts them in a position to compete in the present while not sacrificing the future.
Yordan Alvarez ? Josh Fields (Astros)
In a move to add depth to the bullpen, the Dodgers decided to part ways with future outfield prospect Yordan Alvarez to acquire right hander Josh Fields. With the plethora of injuries to starters, the Dodger bullpen was called upon frequently to help relieve the starting staff resulting in not a whole lot of fresh arms. Fields has helped alleviate the strain of the the bullpen with a solid 2.79 ERA since joining the Dodgers. Ranked as the number 1 bullpen in innings pitched at 590.2 IP, it was important for the Dodgers to find an affordable and effective arm as relievers such as Fien, Hatcher, Liberatore and Coleman all missed time in the 2nd half of the season due to injuries. Thankfully for the Dodgers, Fields and the remaining relievers helped lead the Dodgers to the best bullpen ERA in the majors at 3.35. With plenty of young outfielders on the Dodgers roster, the moving of Alvarez was a well calculated, as the Dodgers aim to advance past the NLDS.
A.J. Ellis, Tommy Bergjans, Player TBD ? Carlos Ruiz & Cash (Phillies)
This trade was one of the more peculiar ones made by the Dodgers given the fact that there wasn’t a major need to make this deal happen. A.J. Ellis was established as the backup catcher and was better known for having developed rapport with ace Clayton Kershaw as they came up through the minors together. In fact, it was just a year ago that Ellis caught for Kershaw in 21 starts compared to current catcher Yasmani Grandal’s 12 starts. In addition for being known as Kershaw’s pitcher, it was evident given the reaction of the team that Ellis was more than just a player but a leader in the clubhouse. While Carlos Ruiz is no slouch who has title credentials from his time in Philly and a better batting average than Ellis, it didn’t seem as though the risk was worth the reward given that Ruiz in all likelihood will not see much playing time given the play of Grandal. While overall the Dodgers may have technically received the better player in this deal, this trade in my opinion was one they could have lived without.
Mike Bolsinger ? Jesse Chavez & Cash (Blue Jays)
In a quiet, yet smart move by President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and General Manager Farhan Zaidi, the Dodgers made the decision to trade Mike Bolsinger. Proving to be ineffective as a starter with a near 7 ERA and 1 win in 6 starts, the Dodgers were able to cut ties with Bolsinger, who was not going to find playing time as a starter, and acquire a veteran reliever in Jesse Chavez who could eat away innings from an overworked bullpen. While not the biggest move ever, the bottom line is that the Dodgers found a way to give up a player that they weren’t going to use in the playoffs in return for a pitcher who could be used in situational matchups in the postseason.
Overall Grade: B+
Overall, the Dodgers made the moves they needed to make in order to position themselves to compete in the playoffs. While the Dodgers may not have finished the season on a high note by getting swept by the Giants in the regular season series finale, the team finds itself healthy and in a good position heading into the NLDS versus the Nationals as they send Clayton Kershaw to the mound to set the tone in Game 1. While ultimately the Dodgers will be judged on how they do in the postseason, from a GM perspective, the trades made by the Dodgers’ front office shows a balanced approach that sets the Dodgers up for success this postseason and into the future without trading away the farm or making long-term financial commitments to players past their prime.