Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman defended his organization’s approach to the trade deadline, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register reports. There was some consternation as the team came away with only Jedd Gyorko and Adam Kolarek yesterday, but Friedman says he’s satisfied the front office played its hand correctly.
“I think our position was to be aggressive,” said Friedman. “As far as process, conversations and how aggressive we were, we feel really good about what we can control,” he added.
With a generally exemplary roster, there weren’t many areas for the Dodgers to upgrade, though the bullpen was certainly one. Perhaps it didn’t help that many of the top relievers were held by the rival Giants. A late injury to Ken Giles may have skewed the top of the market.
Most of all, the Dodgers seemed to be focused (quite understandably) on a few top assets — in particular, so far as was known publicly, ace Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez. Whether they’d ultimately line up wasn’t so much a matter of broad market considerations as individual negotiations.
It simply didn’t happen on Vazquez, with the Bucs reportedly demanding top Dodgers prospect Gavin Lux. Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington says the team was simply “looking for what we felt was an appropriate return for one of the best relievers in baseball,” as Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports (subscription link). That characterization of Vazquez — an apt one, it’s worth noting, even before considering his exceptionally valuable contract situation — offers some insight as to why the deal wasn’t consummated.
Friedman did not address Vazquez specifically. But he hinted that the club was willing to go beyond its valuations to land such a talent — just not as far as would’ve been necessary.
“If you expect to win a deal from a value standpoint in July, you’re not going to make deals,” he said. “We made plenty of offers that were definitely underwater from a value standpoint but felt good about making because of the team that we have.”
The subtext here is a tough one for some to accept: it was only worth so much future value to improve in the immediate term. Every team has had to reckon with such considerations, even before the analytical explosion. The narrative of the Dodgers as prospect-clutching misers is not really a fair one. This club went big for Yu Darvish and Manny Machado in successive deadlines. There really wasn’t much need for the team to seek marginal improvements to this particular roster, given the monster lead it has already built in the NL West.
Still, it’s tough for Dodgers fans not to wish that this team had somehow managed to install a premium new relief arm at the back of the pen. That’s especially true given how agonizingly close the team has come to a championship in recent campaigns, and how good it is already. The L.A. front office is confident it handled the trade market in a responsible manner, but it’s also aware that one never knows how the picture will look until the games are played. “A year or two from now, that could end up being a really good thing,” Friedman said of the way the deadline played out. “We’re not sure.”