The Dodgers acquired reliever Octavio Dotel and $500K from the Pirates today for pitcher James McDonald and outfielder Andrew Lambo. Dotel will move to a setup role for the Dodgers after saving 21 games for the Pirates. Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan should get a shot to close games in Pittsburgh now.
The 36-year-old Dotel may be a rental for Los Angeles, as his $4.5MM club option for 2011 became mutual upon the trade. Including the buyout on that option, Dotel has $1.65MM remaining on his contract. Eddie Bajek's latest Elias rankings have Dotel as a Type B free agent, though an arbitration offer from the Dodgers is no sure thing. Dotel has a 4.28 ERA, 10.8 K/9, and 3.8 BB/9 on the season with five home runs allowed in 40 innings, though he's been better since May. One red flag is that Dotel has brutal control against lefties, but Hong-Chih Kuo is more than capable of handling those batters.
McDonald, 25, has fallen out of favor since being voted the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in '07 and '08. He opened the '09 season as the Dodgers' fifth starter, but was out of the rotation a month later. This year he's dealt with a hamstring injury while compiling a 4.41 ERA, 8.1 K/9, and 3.4 BB/9 in twelve Triple A starts. It wasn't long ago that Baseball America projected McDonald as a No. 3 starter or late-inning reliever, and he'll have plenty of opportunities in Pittsburgh.
Lambo, meanwhile, was slapped with a 50-game suspension in May for violating baseball's drug policy. BA ranked him seventh among Dodgers prospects before the season. They profile him as a gap hitter who may grow into his power, but label him a substandard outfielder. Lambo still hasn't done much in Double A.
The Pirates haven't hit on too many of these types of players yet, but these gambles make more sense than keeping Dotel around.