Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

Los Angeles Dodgers trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Dodgers Acquire Chase Utley

TODAY, 7:48am: The precise financial terms are contingent upon performance bonuses and the Dodgers’ decision on Utley’s option, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets, but Philadelphia is expected to owe about $3.7MM of the remainder of Utley’s deal.

YESTERDAY, 10:25pm: The Phillies announced that Sweeney will step directly onto the big league roster to fill Utley’s roster spot.

9:47pm: Another franchise icon is out the door in Philadelphia, as the Phillies announced tonight that they have traded Chase Utley and cash considerations to the Dodgers in exchange for minor leaguers Darnell Sweeney and John Richy. L.A. will reportedly receive about $4MM, meaning the Phillies will save a bit less than $2MM.

Aug 24, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins (11) and second baseman Chase Utley (26) celebrate the win against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Cardinals, 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Reports earlier afternoon indicated that Utley was likely to either be dealt today or remain with the Phillies for the rest of the season. The veteran has drawn interest from multiple clubs in need of a veteran presence down the stretch. With full no-trade rights, Utley had the ability to dictate if he was traded and to where he was traded, and the Dodgers fit his preference of a Southern California team.

Utley, 36, has been one of the game’s very best players of the last decade. Over his 6,617 career plate appearances, he has produced at a 124 wRC+ clip. With stellar defense also a key component of his value, Utley has racked up over 60 WAR in 13 seasons.

But that outstanding production slowed somewhat last year and fell off a cliff in 2015 as Utley dealt with nagging ankle issues. He ultimately hit the DL for a stretch as his performance continued to suffer. All told, Utley carries a career-worst .617 OPS on the season.

Things have been trending up, however, since Utley returned from the DL. He’s slashed a robust .484/.485/.742 over 31 plate appearances in the month of August. That’s a small sample, of course, but it does suggest he’s healthy, and Utley obviously has an outstanding and lengthy track record of success.

For Los Angeles, of course, the interest in Utley is tied in large part to the club’s loss of second baseman Howie Kendrick to a hamstring strain. The left-handed-hitting Utley will now rejoin long-time middle infield mate Jimmy Rollins, though presumably both will share time with Kike Hernandez down the stretch.

Hernandez, of course, could also see time in center as the Dodgers work to maximize the platoon advantage. Playing Hernandez in the outfield would likely mean exposing Utley to left-handed pitching. While the long-time All-Star has fared well historically against opposing southpaws, he’s also shown much wider splits in the last several seasons.

Utley has a vesting option that would’ve triggered at $15MM were he to reach 500 plate appearances, but he’s no longer a candidate to hit that mark. Instead, it will become a team option with a price tag of between $5MM and $11MM, depending upon precisely how many days he ends up tallying on the DL.

In Sweeney and Richy, the Phillies will receive the Dodgers’ No. 13 and No. 29 prospects, respectively, per MLB.com. Sweeney has spent most of his time in center field this season but also has experience at both middle infield positions. He’s hitting .271/.332/.409 with nine homers and 32 steals at the Triple-A level this season. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo over at MLB.com feel that he’s a fringy option at shortstop but can play an adequate second base or center field. He lacks a standout tool but possesses more power than most middle infielders and has “solid” speed.

Richy, 23, was L.A.’s third-round pick in 2014. He has a four-pitch mix with a fastball that tops out at 94 mph. He’s able to throw strikes and projects as a potential back-of-the-rotation starter, per MLB.com. Fangraphs Kiley McDaniel also wrote up both players in his preseason look at the Dodgers’ farm system. Baseball America ranked Sweeney 16th among Dodgers farmhands and ranked Richy 24th prior to the season

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki first reported that the Dodgers were moving closer to a deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that two minor leaguers would go to the Phillies, with about $4MM going to the Dodgers. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted that the deal had been agreed to. Zolecki reported that Sweeney was in the deal (Twitter link). Rosenthal reported that Richy was the other minor leaguer (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dodgers Designate Alberto Callaspo For Assignment

The Dodgers announced that they have designated infielder Alberto Callaspo for assignment tonight, which will clear room on the 40-man and 25-man rosters for newly acquired Chase Utley.

Acquired from the Braves earlier this season, Callaspo saw an uptick in production following his move to L.A., but his .262/.338/.303 batting line was still considerably below the league average. Callaspo signed a one-year, $3MM contract with Atlanta this offseason and figures to go unclaimed if placed on waivers, as he’s still owed $770K through season’s end. The switch-hitter served as a solid utility piece from 2009-13 with the Royals, Angels and A’s, but his production has declined over the past two seasons, as he’s totaled just a .227/.300/.286 batting line in 711 plate appearances.

West Notes: Mariners, Gyorko, Dodgers Pen

MLBTR joins the rest of the baseball world in extending its best wishes to veteran Giants beat writer Henry Schulman, who announced yesterday that he is undergoing treatment for a serious illness. We wish Hank a speedy recovery and look forward to his return to the beat.

With a tip of the cap to one of the game’s preeminent journalists, here are some notes from out west:

  • The Mariners are beginning to assess whether to make a front office move, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, with the team still not decided on whether to bring back GM Jack Zduriencik. Rosenthal addresses the idea of Seattle pursuing Dave Dombrowski for a front office role, noting that many in the game see it as a likely fit, but it appears that the connection is being made on paper rather than through actual indications of specific interest.
  • Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko made his first-ever professional appearance at shortstop yesterday, and it seems there is at least an outside chance that he could be considered there in the future. While manager Pat Murphy did not give much of an indication of the club’s plans, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets, neither did he dismiss it as a spot start. “We’ve got to see if our hunch is right first,” Murphy responded when asked whether Gyorko was auditioning for a new position next season.
  • The Dodgers bullpen has had its ups and downs this year, but one issue it has not struggled with much is sufficient rest, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group explains. With plenty of turnover and careful tracking of the work load, the team has minimized the wear and tear on its relief arms. Of course, as Hoornstra notes, it’s fair to ask whether that tack has been successful, as the pen has struggled at times (in particular, of late).

Dodgers Set To Overhaul International Scouting Department

The Dodgers have notified several significant members of their international scouting department that their contracts will not be renewed, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and Ken Gurnick report. While the team’s future plans remain unknown, it now seems committed to overhauling its international operations over the coming months.

Included in the cuts is vice president of international scouting Bob Engle. Originally hired a few months after the team signed Yasiel Puig back in 2012, Engle was the man chosen to lead the club’s broader efforts to ramp up its presence in the baseball hotbeds around the world.

Despite significant front office turnover in the interim, international spending has continued to be a major element of the organization’s efforts to leverage its nearly-unmatched financial might. Key players such as Puig, injured starter Hyun-jin Ryu, and top pitching prospect Julio Urias have come from abroad. Most recently, the Dodgers inked the since-traded Hector Olivera and paced the league in July 2 spending (including a $16MM bonus for Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez).

Engle is the top executive who the team is parting with, but hardly the only one. Per the report, the Dodgers have also dismissed Latin America scouting coordinator Patrick Guerrero, who came with Engle from the Mariners. “The only explanation I got was that they wanted to go in a different direction and nothing else,” Guerrero told MLB.com. “I understand. That’s baseball.”

Also left looking for new jobs are Dominican Republic scouting coordinator Franklin Taveras, director of international and minor league relations Joseph Reaves, special advisor for international player performance Rafael Colon, senior manager of international scouting Hidenori Sueyoshi, and Latin America field coordinator Bruce Hurst.

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi continue to remake the organization on and off the field. With a ban on significant July 2 spending forthcoming for the next two signing seasons, the front office seemingly decided it was an opportune moment to turn over the team’s international operations.

Dodgers, Red Sox Discussing Alejandro De Aza

The Dodgers and Red Sox are engaged in trade talks regarding outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Boston acquired De Aza from the Orioles in early June.

Per the report, the Dodgers are considering De Aza as an alternative acquisition target to Chase Utley. While the two obviously don’t play the same position, Rosenthal suggests that adding De Aza would allow Los Angeles to continue deploying Kike Hernandez at second base in place of the injured Howie Kendrick.

In spite of that explanation, it seems a curious fit unless another move is also being contemplated. De Aza hits from the left side, and the Dodgers already have three left-handed-hitting outfielders in Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Joc Pederson. And it’s not as if the 31-year-old De Aza posts reverse platoon splits; to the contrary, he’s been far more productive against right-handed pitching this season and over his career. (The same holds true of the team’s incumbent options.)

De Aza does have some extra flexibility given his extensive (though somewhat outdated) experience in center field. But the same can be said to greater or lesser extent of the three players just mentioned — including, of course, the team’s current up-the-middle defender, Pederson.

The major difference between De Aza and the in-house veterans lies in the contractual realm. Boston only took on $1MM of his salary in acquiring him from the Orioles, and he’ll hit free agency after the season, so he’s a cheap rental piece at this point. Ethier ($38MM over two seasons) and Crawford ($41.75MM over two seasons) come with significant guarantees after the current year, though both have been rather productive at the plate. It’s conceivable, at least, that Los Angeles would have interest in an immediate replacement for either player if they found a trade partner willing to take on a piece of the future obligations.

While he’s best as a platoon player or fourth outfielder, De Aza is a useful piece — he’s slashed .313/.362/.520 since coming over to Boston. And it’s fairly clear that he holds more function to a team other than the cellar-dwelling Red Sox. But it’s also not immediately apparent that he makes a ton of sense for the Dodgers, as that team’s roster is currently structured.

Of course, being that it’s August, De Aza would need either to be claimed by the Dodgers or have already passed through revocable waivers to be dealt. It has not been reported whether or when De Aza was placed on waivers.

Ron Roenicke To Join Dodgers’ Coaching Staff

2:45pm: The Dodgers have announced the hiring of Roenicke as their new third base coach. Bundy will officially stay on as the team’s outfield coordinator, per the press release.

2:33pm: The Dodgers will hire former Brewers manager Ron Roenicke to join their coaching staff, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). Roenicke will become the team’s new third base coach, according to Miller. Current third base coach Lorenzo Bundy is believed to be staying with the organization, he adds, but he’ll move to a yet unknown role. Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times tweets that Bundy will remain in charge of the outfield defense.

The 58-year-old Roenicke was dismissed as the Brewers’ manager in favor of Craig Counsell back on May 3. He spent parts of five seasons at the helm in Milwaukee and finished with a winning record (342-331) despite the club’s woes dating back to late in the 2014 season. Roenicke also had an eight-year playing career as an outfielder back in the 1980s. This will be his second stint coaching with the Dodgers, as he began his coaching career in L.A. back in 1992 and remained there through the ’93 season before embarking on a minor league managerial career. Roenicke also served as a coach on Mike Scioscia’s staff with the Angels from 2000 through 2010.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Brett Anderson

Dodgers starter Brett Anderson appears set to enter the 2015-16 offseason as one of the winter’s most unusual free agents. Injuries have limited him to 622 2/3 career big-league innings. 2015 has been his first full season in the big leagues since his rookie year in 2009. He is, in the grand scheme of things, still unproven. And yet he’ll still be highly sought after.

USATSI_8550377_154513410_lowresFirst, the injury record: Since 2011, Anderson has missed significant time with elbow issues resulting in Tommy John surgery; an oblique strain; a stress fracture in his foot; a broken finger; and a herniated disc in his lower back. Many of those injuries haven’t been arm problems, at least, and it’s possible Anderson has partially been the victim of flukes, but that long list is still a scary one.

Despite Anderson’s history, the Dodgers signed him to a one-year, $10MM contract before the season. When signing players with track records as sketchy as Anderson’s, teams frequently secure an option of some kind as a way of guarding against future injury. Anderson’s contract contained relatively little hedging, however, other than a series of $300K-$400K bonuses for innings pitched (many of which Anderson looks likely to achieve). Also, Anderson’s $10MM guarantee looked like a lot for a pitcher who hadn’t thrown even 100 innings in a season since 2010.

Anderson has, nonetheless, proven to be a bargain for the Dodgers. Thus far, he has a 3.43 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He’s also pitched 128 2/3 innings. If someone had told you before the season that the Dodgers would have an injury-riddled rotation, you probably would have assumed Anderson would be one of the culprits, but he hasn’t missed a start all season (although he left one July outing early with a minor Achilles injury).

Even better, Anderson has posted an exceptional 65.8 percent ground ball rate, a ridiculously high number that makes him very likely to have at least modest success as long as he’s healthy and has a competent infield defense behind him. Anderson’s ground ball rate is the best among qualified MLB starters, with Dallas Keuchel, Tyson Ross, Gio Gonzalez and Felix Hernandez following him in the top five. That’s strong company, even if Anderson doesn’t strike out as many batters as those other four do.

So how might Anderson fare in the market next winter? He will, of course, be on a lower tier than big-name starting pitchers like David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Scott Kazmir and Zack Greinke (assuming Greinke opts out of his current contract). There will also be a strong secondary starting pitching market, with Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mat Latos, Yovani Gallardo and others potentially available.

Still, if Anderson can stay healthy, he will be highly valued. Teams have lately proven willing to gamble on talented starting pitchers, even when they have obvious question marks. For example, Anderson’s current teammate Brandon McCarthy, another ground-ball-prone starter, got a four-year, $48MM deal last offseason after a brilliant 2014 stretch run with the Yankees. McCarthy had previously suffered through periods of inconsistency and injury.

Of course, McCarthy had Tommy John surgery in April, although that injury mostly appeared unrelated to his previous troubles. A more positive recent precedent, though, might be that of the Pirates’ Francisco Liriano, who earned a three-year, $39MM deal after strong 2013 and 2014 campaigns in Pittsburgh, even though he had posted ERAs above 5.00 in the two years before that and had pitched more than 163 innings in a season only once in his career. Liriano is in the midst of a third straight strong season with the Bucs.

Every case is different, of course, and Anderson might not quite have the upside McCarthy or Liriano appeared to, since he doesn’t have the strikeout rate those pitchers had. Anderson also (perhaps sensibly, given his history) hasn’t worked particularly deep into games this year, averaging just 5.8 innings per start.

Health permitting, though, Anderson’s ground ball rate gives him a reasonably high floor (no pun intended), and his age (he won’t be 28 until February) will also work in his favor. Other than Trevor Cahill, there aren’t currently any significant 2016 starting pitching free agents younger than Anderson, and only Latos and Leake even come all that close.

Anderson looks like a strong candidate for a qualifying offer, which might affect his market somewhat — the Dodgers gave Anderson a significant percentage of the value of a qualifying offer when they signed him for 2015, so extending one after what’s been a strong and healthy season looks like a no-brainer. Every player (including starting pitchers like Liriano and Ervin Santana) who rejected a qualifying offer last year got a multiyear deal, however, so it seems likely that Anderson will also be able to land one.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Zito, Flores, Wood

With Aaron Brooks headed to Triple-A Nashville, the Athletics will need a starter sometime in the next few days. That could be A’s veteran Barry Zito, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The 2002 AL Cy Young winner and three-time All-Star hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since 2013, but he’s pitched 137 innings for Triple-A Nashville this year, posting a 3.48 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. Zito had been scheduled to start for the Sounds on Saturday, but Sean Nolin will take the ball instead, and Zito is no longer listed among the Sounds’ upcoming probable pitchers. Zito has also briefly missed time recently with a shoulder injury, althoug Slusser characterizes that issue as “extremely minor.” Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Mariners outfielder Ramon Flores has a compound fracture in his ankle and will miss the rest of the season, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. As Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto tweets, Flores left yesterday’s game on a cart after falling while trying to make a play in the field. The Mariners acquired Flores with Jose Ramirez late last month when they traded Dustin Ackley to the Yankees. The 23-year-old Flores was off to a terrific start with Tacoma, batting .423/.524/.654 with eight extra-base hits and 11 walks in 63 plate appearances.
  • The Dodgers lost their first two games with new trade acquisition Alex Wood on the hill, but he picked up his first win with them yesterday against the Reds, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. Mat Latos, the Dodgers’ other starting pitching acquisition in that trade, had also struggled, so Wood’s victory likely came as a welcome sign for the Dodgers. Wood says his outlook hasn’t changed significantly since arriving from Atlanta, however. “For me, and I can probably speak for the other guys too, the expectations everywhere you go are high,” he says. “[Y]ou’ve got to come in and you have to perform … Not just to be a contributor or make trades look good or bad but to stay here and be a part of it, you know?

Prospect Notes: Org Rankings, Cuba, Nunez

The Red Sox top the latest organizational prospect list of MLB.com’s Jim Callis. Boston has seven of the game’s top 100 pre-MLB players, per MLB.com, led by infielders Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers. Next up on the list: the Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, and Twins. Here are some more stray notes from around the league:

  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez looks at the international market on a historic day for U.S.-Cuban relations. There are a number of talented Cuban players waiting to strike deals, Sanchez explains. Indeed, he estimates that nearly 75 young players have left the island nation with intentions of signing with big league clubs in the last year and a half. As Sanchez notes, it remains unclear whether a new pathway for that talent to travel to the majors could be opened.
  • Another Cuban player could potentially be on the way, Baseball America’s Ben Badler tweets, though it seems he won’t be attempting to defect to do so. 22-year-old lefty Darien Nunez has asked Cuban authorities to release him from his league obligations, reports from the island suggest. Badler says that the southpaw — who led Cuban ball in both strikeouts and walks last year — is raw and unpolished, but possesses an “intriguing arm.”

Trevor Cahill Opts Out Of Dodgers Contract

Righty Trevor Cahill has exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the Dodgers, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports on Twitter. He will head back onto the open market in search of a new opportunity.

Cahill, 27, signed on with the Dodgers organization after being released earlier in the season by the Braves. He had been dealt to Atlanta from the Diamondbacks over the winter.

Over his 34 1/3 frames with Oklahoma City on the year, Cahill worked to a 5.24 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9. Needless to say, he never received an opportunity at the big league level with Los Angeles.

Cahill’s difficulties this season continue a rough stretch of results. Since the start of the 2014 season, and covering his time earlier this year with Atlanta, Cahill has put up 137 innings of 5.98 ERA pitching at the major league level.

While Cahill is playing on a $12MM salary this year, the Dodgers never picked up any piece of that in signing him. Instead, the Diamondbacks ($6.5MM) and Braves ($5.5MM, plus his $300K option buyout for next year) are paying the balance.