The Dodgers have acquired left-hander Ryan Yarbrough from the Royals, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Juan C. Toribio (Twitter link). Kansas City is receiving minor league infielders Devin Mann and Derlin Figueroa, Feinsand reports in a follow-up tweet.
While the Dodgers made bids for such high-profile pitchers as Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez prior to the deadline, they’ll still come away with some rotation help in Yarbrough, who has a 3.08 ERA over 38 innings and seven games as a starter for Kansas City this season. Of course, that also comes with a 7.62 ERA over 13 innings as a reliever, but Yarbrough has looked very sharp since he was moved into the K.C. rotation in April.
On-field performance has been a secondary story to Yarbrough’s 2023 season, as the southpaw suffered multiple facial fractures after being struck by a Ryan Noda line drive back on May 7. The injuries sent Yarbrough to the 60-day IL, but he thankfully returned in good health and has been in great form on the mound, with a 2.19 ERA over 24 2/3 innings since being activated off the injured list.
Yarbrough’s secondary metrics are the definition of a mixed bag. On the one hand, his 86.9% fastball velocity, fastball spin rate, and 13.7% strikeout rate are near the very bottom of the league. His 3.8% walk rate, however, is among the league’s elite, and he has done an excellent job of inducing soft contact. His 4.24 ERA is much lower than his 4.97 SIERA, which perhaps better reflects this curious set of Statcast numbers and the move from relief pitching to starting pitching.
The Dodgers have long had a knack for both helping pitchers find a new level of performance or helping them revive their careers altogether, so there’s plenty of promise for Yarbrough in this change of scenery. The left-hander is likely to get some more starts in an L.A. rotation that includes another new face in Lance Lynn, and the Dodgers now technically have seven healthy starting options in Lynn, Yarbrough, Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, and rookies Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, and Michael Grove.
At least two of the youngsters will be moved to Triple-A or to the bullpen in the aftermath of the deadline, and once Clayton Kershaw returned from the 15-day injured list. Yarbrough could also work as a reliever himself, or in a swingman capacity as the situation warrants. He is quite familiar with such a role, both with the Royals this season and from his previous time as a starter, reliever, opener, and bulk pitcher with the Rays from 2018-22.
It’s a rental move for Los Angeles, as Yarbrough is a free agent after the season. He is still owed roughly $1.1MM as the remainder of his $3MM salary for the 2023 season, putting a bit of extra money on the ledger of a Dodgers team already well over the first luxury tax tier ($233MM). With much still to be settled in the wake of the deadline, Roster Resource projects the Dodgers as just narrowly under the $253MM second tier, and staying under that threshold would at least mean a slightly lesser financial penalty for the Dodgers as they pay into the tax for the third consecutive season.
With a one-year deal, Yarbrough was seen as a potential deadline trade chip from basically the moment he signed with the Royals, and Kansas City’s disastrous season only made a deal even more likely. The latest of K.C’s many swaps brings in two more prospects, including a player in Mann ranked by both Baseball America (24th) and MLB Pipeline (29th) within the top 30 of the Los Angeles farm system.
Mann was a fifth-round pick for the Dodgers in 2018, and might be ready for a big league look after hitting .307/.402/.541 with 14 homers over 386 plate appearances at the Triple-A level this season. While the hitter-friendly nature of the Pacific Coast League brings some pause to Mann’s numbers, the 26-year-old has hit pretty well over the course of his minor league career. “Mann is a well-rounded player who does a little bit of everything,” according to Baseball America’s scouting report, and his “bat and defensive versatility give him a chance to carve out a career as a lefty-mashing reserve.” Mann has played all four infield positions and left field this season, and he has logged some time in the other two outfield positions in past years.
The 19-year-old Figueroa was an international signing for L.A. in 2021, and he has hit .237/.372/.376 over 113 PA at the rookie ball level this season. While still very early in his pro career, Figueroa has at least shown a knack for getting on base, even if his overall hitting ability needs some polish. Like Mann, Figueroa is a multi-positional player — he has seen time at first base and both outfield corners this season, and played all the other infield positions in his first two seasons.