Los Angeles Dodgers – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-05-31T02:43:16Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest News, Notes On Minor League Pay]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=198068 2020-05-29T21:36:05Z 2020-05-29T15:57:39Z The manner in which teams are — or, in some cases, aren’t — continuing to pay their minor league players has drawn increased attention as the end of the month draws near. Major League teams agreed back in March to pay minor league players $400 per week through the end of May, but most minor league players now face ongoing financial uncertainty. The Dodgers have already committed to continue that $400 weekly stipend through the end of June, but veteran left-hander David Price is stepping up to add a helping hand, pledging $1,000 to each non-40-man Dodgers minor leaguer, according to a report from Francys Romero (Twitter link). That includes more than 220 minor leaguers, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. It’s a similar gesture to the one Shin-Shoo Choo made with the Rangers back in April.

Of course, the very fact that veterans such as Choo and Price even feel it necessary to step up to help out minor leaguers speaks to the manner in which minor league players are under-compensated. While some clubs — the Marlins and Padres — are reportedly set to pay out that $400 weekly stipend through the end of the minor league season, the Athletics are cutting off the stipend at month’s end. Others have extended the stipend through June but have not committed further.

Here’s how a few other clubs are handling the matter…

  • The Mets, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, Giants and Indians are all extending the $400 weekly stipend through the month of June, per reports from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (tweet), the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak (tweet), the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area (tweet) and Kyle Glaser of Baseball America (tweet). “This money right now, especially for guys who aren’t as well off, this is a huge deal,” Rays minor league catcher Chris Betts tells Topkin. “…I’m beyond excited about it, and I’m honestly just more stoked and proud that the organization I play for took this route more than anything.”
  • The Athletics have, unsurprisingly, drawn a wide array of harsh criticism for their wide-ranging furlough and the full cutoff of minor league payment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Slusser notes that owner John Fisher repeatedly used the word “family” in his letter to fans explaining the cutbacks, but many impacted by the cuts don’t feel the effects of that word. “It’s very hard to preach family and then not act like it when times are difficult,” Class-A pitcher Aiden McIntyre tells Slusser. Triple-A outfielder Jason Krizan added: “…[I]t hurts to see the Marlins continue to pay their players when they made the least in baseball last year,” though he noted he’d rather remain an Athletic and receive benefits than otherwise. Other players, past and present, voiced similar criticisms to Slusser, as did a big league agent and an executive with another club. Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein writes that termination of the stipend saves the Athletics an approximate $1.3MM.
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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Furloughs, Pay Cuts Among MLB Clubs]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197945 2020-05-28T00:08:21Z 2020-05-27T23:09:46Z 6:09pm: The Rangers have committed to $400 a week for their minor leaguers through at least June, Levi Weaver of The Athletic was among those to report. The same goes for the Braves, per David O’Brien of The Athletic, as well as the Diamondbacks, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds.

12:59pm: The Padres will also pay their minor leaguers the $400 weekly stipend through the end of August, Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets.

12:34pm: Most of MLB’s 30 organizations agreed a ways back to pay their employees through the end of May. There were instances of lengthier commitments, but May 31 was broadly used as an initial endpoint, at which time fiscal matters would be reassessed. Minor league players have been receiving $400 weekly stipends during this time, but that arrangement is also only promised through the end of May. As you’d expect, clubs have begun to inform employees (both on the business and baseball operations side) and minor leaguers of their next steps. And, as you’d expect, in some instances it’s not pretty.

Yesterday was a particularly dark day in the Athletics organization, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the team informed minor league players they will no longer be paid their stipend as of June 1. Robert Murray of The Score shares the email that was sent to Oakland minor leaguers — one which was signed by GM David Forst rather than managing partner John J. Fisher. (Forst, of course, is being asked to play the messenger in this instance and is not the one making the decisions.)

Minor league players are generally undercompensated as a whole, and the $400 weekly stipend they’ve received over the past two months will now seemingly go down as the only baseball-related compensation they’ll receive in the calendar year. Their contracts, which are in a state of suspension but not terminated, bar them from “perform[ing] services for any other Club” and also render them ineligible for unemployment benefits, per The Athletic’s Emily Waldon (Twitter link).

As for the operations side of the equation, Athletics front office personnel will be either furloughed or see their pay reduced effective June 1 and running through the end of October, The Athletic’s Alex Coffey reports (Twitter thread). She adds that the maximum cut is 33 percent, and those determinations are based on seniority. Scouts aren’t considered front-office personnel, but they’ll be hit hard as well; USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that A’s amateur and pro scouts alike will be furloughed from June 16 through Oct. 31. Fisher did write a letter to the club’s fanbase confirming the dramatic cuts (Twitter link via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser), emphasizing the pain that went into the decisions and his “deep commitment to the long-term future of the A’s.”

Those cutbacks are similar to the substantial cuts the Angels put in place earlier this month, but other L.A. club isn’t taking such rash measures. The Dodgers have informed all employees earning more than $75K that they’ll be subject to pay reductions beginning June 1, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter thread). The extent of the reductions is dependent on overall salary — larger salaries get larger percentage cuts — and will be capped at 35 percent for the most part, although that they could be greater for the team’s very top executives. Those measures are being taken in an effort to avoid the type of large-scale furloughs being put in place in Oakland and Anaheim.

Across the country, the Nationals have implemented a series of partial furloughs both in baseball ops and business ops, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports (Twitter thread). The Nats are still covering full benefits and haven’t made any layoffs, but they’re implementing a sequence of 10 to 30 percent reductions in pay and total hours. The Brewers, meanwhile aren’t making any baseball ops furloughs but are furloughing some business operation employees, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets.

It’s not yet clear how every organization plans to handle the minor league pay dilemma, but Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser has heard from at least three clubs that plan to continue varying levels of compensation. The Phillies will keep paying their minor leaguers through at least June, but likely at less than the current $400 stipend. The White Sox are paying $400 per week through the end of June, and the Marlins have committed to paying their minor leaguers the full $400 per week through August — the would-be conclusion of the 2020 minor league season. The Marlins already informed players earlier this month that about 40 percent of the baseball ops department will be furloughed on June 1.

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Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Which 15 Players Should The Dodgers Protect In An Expansion Draft?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197817 2020-05-26T14:03:50Z 2020-05-26T14:03:50Z In a few weeks, we’ll be running a two-team mock expansion draft here at MLBTR – just for the fun of it!  Currently, we’re creating 15-player protected lists for each of the existing 30 teams.  You can catch up on the rules for player eligibility here.

So far, we’ve covered the PadresGiantsRangersMariners, Athletics, Angels, Astros, Twins, Royals, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles.  The Dodgers are up next.

First, we’ll remove free agents Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Blake Treinen, Joc Pederson, Alex Wood, Enrique Hernandez, Pedro Baez, and Jimmy Nelson from consideration.  Next, we’ll add Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen to our protected list by virtue of their no-trade rights (Jansen will acquire ten-and-five rights this year).  We’ll lock in Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Brusdar Graterol, and Tony Gonsolin as Baseball America Top 100 prospects with a 2020 ETA (they’ve actually all already arrived in the Majors).  I’ll also lock in another six players, giving us these 12:

Clayton Kershaw
Kenley Jansen
Cody Bellinger
Walker Buehler
Max Muncy
Will Smith
Corey Seager
Julio Urias
Gavin Lux
Dustin May
Tony Gonsolin
Brusdar Graterol

That leaves three spots for the following 14 players:

Scott Alexander
Austin Barnes
Matt Beaty
Caleb Ferguson
Dylan Floro
Joe Kelly
Adam Kolarek
A.J. Pollock
David Price
Edwin Rios
Dennis Santana
Josh Sborz
Ross Stripling
Chris Taylor

With that, we turn it over to the MLBTR readership! In the poll below (direct link here), select exactly three players you think the Dodgers should protect in our upcoming mock expansion draft. Click here to view the results.

Create your own user feedback survey

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cancer Survivor Dave Roberts Discusses Managing In Pandemic]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197806 2020-05-26T03:52:39Z 2020-05-26T03:52:39Z
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over the age of 65 and cancer survivors are among those who are at the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus. With that in mind, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times wonders if it will be safe for the Angels’ Joe Maddon (66) or the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts (Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor) to manage during a pandemic-shortened season. Maddon, who has lost 15 pounds via diet and exercise, explained to DiGiovanna he’s “on a mission” to get healthier. Roberts, meanwhile, received the go-ahead from one of the Dodgers’ team physicians, Dr. John Plosay, to continue in his current position. “I asked [the doctor] if I were to go back, does that put me in any different [risk] category, and he said absolutely not,” Roberts told DiGiovanna. “He didn’t really give me any details, and I didn’t really ask.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Remembering A Dodgers Heist]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197490 2020-05-20T06:05:59Z 2020-05-20T06:05:59Z As a versatile defender and a capable offensive player, Chris Taylor has been one of many eminently useful members of the Dodgers’ roster since 2017. But Taylor’s career did not begin in ideal fashion. A fifth-round pick of the Mariners in 2012, Taylor peaked as Baseball America’s ninth-ranked M’s prospect in 2014, and though he reached the majors for the first time that year, it took him a few years to come into his own.

    Taylor showed off almost zero pop early in his big league career, evidenced by his one home run and .076 isolated power number across 318 plate appearances through 2016. Taylor had plenty of high moments in the Mariners’ minor league system, where he hit .314/.401/.455 in 1,856 PA, but could only muster a measly line of .240/296/.296 (71 wRC+) in the majors. Consequently, general manager Jerry Dipoto – who did not draft Taylor – gave him up in June 2016, sending him to the Dodgers for right-hander Zach Lee.

    At the time of the Seattle-LA deal, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote, “Given Taylor’s impressive minor league numbers, it’s not out of the question that he could unlock some of that hitting prowess in the bigs.”

    Mark couldn’t have been more right. Taylor saw little time with the Dodgers in his first year with the organization (just 62 PA), but he became a regular for the club the next season and has been an integral part of the perennial contenders’ roster since then. Going back to 2017, Taylor has slashed .268/.340/.468 (116 wRC+) with 50 homers and 9.6 fWAR, all while making relatively minimal salaries. Taylor’s still under affordable control through 2021, so as someone who can hit and play just about every position (he has lined up at second, third, short and all three outfield spots in LA), it should be a no-brainer for the Dodgers to keep him in the fold for at least the next couple years.

    While the Dodgers struck gold on Taylor, the Mariners got nothing out of this swap. Lee entered the pro ranks as the 28th overall pick of the Dodgers in 2010, deciding to try for a baseball career instead of playing football at LSU. Signing the former quarterback cost the Dodgers a franchise-record bonus of $5.25MM, and Lee lived up to the hype for a little while. He was among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects three times (2011, ’12 and ’14), but Lee had an up-and-down minor league run as a Dodger and made just one appearance with the big club. In a 15-2 loss to the Mets in July 2015, Lee yielded seven earned runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. That was the only time he took the mound as a Dodger.

    So what has become of Lee since the Mariners acquired him? Well, he had a fleeting run in the Seattle org, which lost him on waivers to San Diego in December 2016. Lee has since been with three other franchises – the Rays, Mets and Athletics (the A’s signed him to a minors pact this past offseason). He’s still just 28, and as a former high-end prospect, it may be too soon to give up on Lee. However, as the owner of a 5.41 ERA over 625 1/3 innings in Triple-A ball, it seems unlikely he’ll amount to much in the majors. Considering how Lee’s pro career has gone thus far, the Dodgers have to be thrilled with the return they got for him.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Universal DH Would Highlight Dodgers’ Ridiculous Depth]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=197108 2020-05-14T14:20:27Z 2020-05-14T14:10:24Z The designated hitter is likely coming to the National League in 2020. And while many lifelong NL fans will have strong feelings against the change, Dodgers fans may be most amenable to the switch, knowing how strongly their club is positioned to take advantage of the rule change.

    Among the 18 non-pitchers who took at least 50 plate appearances with the Dodgers last season, a whopping 13 of them were better than the league average in terms of wRC+. That doesn’t even include projected second baseman Gavin Lux, who is widely regarded as the game’s No. 2 overall prospect due largely to his upside at the plate (.392/.478/.719 in 232 Triple-A plate appearances last year). It seems safe to expect him to join that group of above-average bats.

    It’s true that the Dodgers lost three of those above-average hitters — David Freese retired, Alex Verdugo and Kyle Garlick were traded — but L.A. also added one of the best hitters on the planet in Mookie Betts. He’ll pair with Cody Bellinger and some type of platoon between Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock and Chris Taylor in the outfield.

    That’s only part of the Dodgers’ outfield depth, of course, and the infield is similarly stacked with talent and much better-than-average bench pieces. The arrival of Lux at second base likely pushes Max Muncy to first base, leaving Corey Seager and Justin Turner to continue suiting up on the left side of the diamond. Will Smith has the makings of a very good hitter behind the plate, as well.

    That’s an extremely deep starting lineup as is, but the Dodgers could field nearly an entire second starting infield with their bench options. Taylor, already mentioned, hasn’t quite replicated his huge debut season in L.A., but his .257/.332/.451 slash over the past two seasons is strong. First baseman/left fielder Matt Beaty was a roughly league-average hitter in 268 PAs last year, and fellow corner option Edwin Rios would be in the mix to start at third base for some clubs after posting a 112 wRC+ in Triple-A last year and hitting .277/.393/.617 in 56 big league plate appearances. Enrique Hernandez had a down season but is only a year removed from hitting .256/.336/.470.

    Beaty and Rios give manager Dave Roberts a pair of lefty-swinging bats to work into the mix at first base (either player), third base (Rios) and in left field (Beaty). Hernandez and Taylor can both play shortstop, second base or any outfield slot. No matter who needs a breather at DH on a given day or what hand the opposing starter throws with, Roberts has versatile option with quality offensive track records. The Dodgers also got a nice showing from outfielder DJ Peters in Triple-A last year and reacquired first baseman/outfielder Luke Raley from the Twins this winter on the heels of a 122 wRC+ in Triple-A. Don’t worry — platoon options abound there as well; Peters hits right-handed to Raley’s left-handed bat.

    As it already stood, the Dodgers could’ve rolled out a lineup featuring Betts, Bellinger, Pederson/Pollock, Turner, Seager, Lux, Muncy and Smith on any given day. Now, it seems they’ll be able to rotate any of those regulars through the DH position while replacing him in the field with a versatile piece in a favorable platoon matchup. And on days when that projected lineup is out there, virtually any bench bat at Roberts’ disposal should be equipped to deliver well above-average offense — particularly given the ability to tweak based on matchups.

    The Dodgers led the NL with a 111 wRC+ last year, and with a deep stable of balanced bats who have versatile gloves, they should excel in 2020 without even needing to think about another addition for the new DH spot.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers, Turner Hadn’t Discussed Extension Prior To Transaction Freeze]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196765 2020-05-08T18:02:39Z 2020-05-08T18:02:39Z Justin Turner is in the final season of his four-year, $64MM contract with the Dodgers, but the star third baseman tells Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times that he hasn’t discussed a contract extension with the team yet. Extension talks are prohibited while the league is under a transaction freeze, but it’s nevertheless notable that they’d not yet broached the topic of a new contract when such negotiations were permissible.

    Turner missed some time back in 2018 due to a fractured wrist and a hamstring strain but has mostly avoided the injured list in recent seasons. While he’ll turn 36 in the offseason, he’s been nothing short of excellent at the plate. Given all the star power up and down the Dodger lineup, it’s easy for Turner to get lost in the shuffle. Over the past three seasons, he’s posted an outstanding .307/.397/.519 batting line with 62 homers, 87 doubles and a triple. He’s been one of the toughest players in the league to strike out in that time — just 13 percent — while drawing a walk in just over 10 percent of his trips to the plate. Since 2017, the only qualified hitters in baseball with a better OBP are Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Juan Soto, Aaron Judge and Christian Yelich.

    The Dodgers have some internal options. Edwin Rios and Chris Taylor are both capable of playing third base, and on a speculative basis, Corey Seager could slide over with Gavin Lux taking over at shortstop. Max Muncy has also appeared in at least 30 games at the hot corner in each of the past two seasons.

    On the one hand, Turner’s outstanding offensive production and the relatively short-term commitment he’d command due to his age make a reunion a sensible pursuit for the Dodgers. Then again, the club pursued Anthony Rendon this winter with an eye toward Turner changing positions, so perhaps the preference is to lock in a younger third base option with better defensive contributions. (Turner once rated as a premium defender but has seen his numbers deteriorate a bit in his mid-30s.)

    [Related: 2020-21 Free Agent Third Basemen]

    If Turner ultimately reaches the open market, he’ll be among the best bats available in free agency, although he spoke fondly of the Dodgers when chatting with Castillo. “Obviously there’s a possibility that there’s no season and my Dodger career could’ve ended last year in the playoffs, which would be tough,” said Turner. “It would be sad. Sad to think about.”

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[10 MLB Teams Whose Business Initiatives Face Coronavirus Hurdles]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196402 2020-05-02T03:35:02Z 2020-05-02T02:34:53Z Like most every person or business, all thirty MLB teams face tough questions during the time of COVID-19. Some are relatively similar for all ballclubs, but there are obviously quite a few unique issues — some more pressing than others.

    Dealing with the implications of this pandemic is probably toughest for organizations that are in the midst of executing or planning major business initiatives. We’ll run down some of those here.

    Angels: The team has been cooking up potentially massive plans to develop the area around Angel Stadium. Fortunately, nothing is really in process at the moment, but it stands to reason that the project could end up being reduced in scope and/or delayed.

    Athletics: Oof. The A’s have done a ton of work to put a highly ambitious stadium plan in motion. Massive uncertainty of this type can’t help. It isn’t clear just yet how the effort will be impacted, but it seems reasonable to believe the organization is pondering some tough decisions.

    Braves: Luckily for the Atlanta-area organization, the team’s new park and most of the surrounding development is already fully operational. But with the added earning capacity from retail operations in a ballpark village comes greater exposure to turmoil.

    Cubs: Like the Braves, the Cubs have already done most of the work at and around their park, but were counting on big revenue to pay back what’s owed (and then some). Plus, the Cubbies have a new TV network to bring up to speed.

    Diamondbacks: Vegas?! Vancouver?! Probably not, but the Snakes do want to find a new home somewhere in Arizona. That effort is sure to be dented. Plus, the team’s recent initiative to host non-baseball events at Chase Field will now go on hiatus.

    Marlins: The new ownership group has had some good vibes going and hoped to convert some of the positivity into a healthy new TV deal. That critical negotiation will now take place in a brutal economic environment.

    Mets: So … this is probably not an optimal moment to be selling your sports franchise. The Wilpon family is pressing ahead with an effort to strike a new deal after their prior one broke down (at the worst possible time).

    Orioles: That bitter television rights fee dispute that just won’t stop … it’s not going to be easier to find a resolution with less cash coming through the door. It was already setting up to be a rough stretch for the Baltimore org, with past TV money due to the Nationals and more bills to come, even while going through brutally lean years on the playing field.

    Rangers: The new park is now built. While taxpayers footed much of the bill, the club still has to pay back a $600MM loan. Suffice to say the Rangers (and municipal authorities) anticipated game day revenues of more than $0 in year one when they planned out the loan repayment method.

    Rays: The club’s preferred Ybor City option flamed out and it is currently engaged in a somewhat confusing effort to split time between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal. Existing hurdles to that arrangement seem only to be taller in the age of the coronavirus.

    Others: We may be missing some, but it seems most other organizations are engaged more in usual-course sorts of business initiatives rather than franchise-altering efforts. For instance, the Nats have an interest in that TV deal as well. The Red Sox have been working to redevelop areas around Fenway Park. The Blue Jays are dabbling in future plans. And the Dodgers have a new TV rights deal, though that came to fruition after the pandemic hit and may not be impacted any more than any other existing carriage arrangements.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[The Dodgers’ Underappreciated 2018 Trade Heist]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196232 2020-04-29T20:33:15Z 2020-04-29T20:17:11Z Just before the calendar flipped from 2018 to 2019, the Dodgers and Reds formally executed a deal that sent short-term veterans to Cincinnati and prospects to Los Angeles … a bit of an oddity in and of itself, given the expectations and eventual results for those two clubs in 2019. The ever-fascinating Yasiel Puig! Former star Matt Kemp, fresh off of a resurgent ’18 effort! Excellent lefty Alex Wood, probably the best present-talent player in the deal! And going in the other direction: Homer Bailey, the guy (some fans allege) the Reds chose to keep over Johnny Cueto!

    For a trade that involved some huge names, this one didn’t get a ton of hype at the time. And it faded from memory rather quickly, in no small part because the most visible players in the deal ended up in other uniforms. That’s not to say there weren’t some big moments along the way, it’s just … the most memorable one occurred minutes after Puig was traded away to the Indians, when he took part in an on-field brawl with his technically former Reds teammates.

    Looking back on the deal, you can see what the Reds were trying to accomplish and why they hoped it would work out. But it stung in retrospect, even with Puig helping the club secure the services of Trevor Bauer in that summer swap. More than a loss for the Reds, though, it stands out as a masterstroke by the Dodgers, who didn’t miss the veteran talent they parted with, re-filled their farm system, saved money, and gained payroll flexibility.

    Let’s break it all back down and see what precisely each side got and gave up …

    Dodgers Receive

    • Homer Bailey, SP: one year, $23MM + $5MM buyout
    • Josiah Gray, SP: 6+ seasons of control; not yet on 40-man roster
    • Jeter Downs, INF: 6+ seasons of control; not yet on 40-man roster

    Reds Receive

    • Matt Kemp, OF: one year, $21.5MM
    • Yasiel Puig, OF: one year, $9.7MM
    • Alex Wood, SP: one year, $9.65MM
    • Kyle Farmer, C/INF: 5 seasons of control; pre-arbitration
    • $7MM cash

    So, the Dodgers took on $28MM in salary and sent another $7MM to Cincinnati, while the Reds absorbed $40.85MM in 2019 spending obligations.

    You can see how the Reds convinced themselves to gamble some young talent here. They added less than $6MM in payroll obligations to get a trio of veterans who had long track records of success. In 2018, Puig turned in a 123 wRC+ effort while Kemp hit at a nearly identical rate (122 wRC+). Wood spun 151 2/3 innings of 3.68 ERA ball and had been even better the season prior. Farmer was a cheap and useful player to sweeten the pot. Even if the Cincinnati club didn’t break out, the front office likely felt it’d be able to recoup some value at the deadline (which, to an extent, it did).

    On the Dodgers’ side, there was an added piece of value. Competitive balance tax considerations were of no concern to the lower-spending Redlegs, but the Los Angeles organization strongly preferred to stay under the luxury line. Bailey’s contract helped make that possible, because the average annual value of his deal was much lower than the remaining cash he was actually owed. As it turns out, the Dodgers skated in just under the $206MM payroll line. In addition to moving the salaries of Puig and Wood, changing out Kemp money ($20MM CBT hit) for Bailey money ($17.5MM) made the difference.

    That critical piece of accounting work was accomplished without really taking anything from the Reds at all, leaving the Dodgers room to structure a swap that brought in serious prospect value. Both Gray and Downs were seen as solid talents at the time of the deal, but they’ve only boosted their stock since.

    After one year of added seasoning, we now know, the Dodgers secured two leaguewide top-100 prospects out of this deal. Gray rocketed through the low minors to finish the 2019 season at Double-A, where he ran up 39 1/3 innings of 2.75 ERA pitching in his age-21 campaign. He’s now a significant part of the Dodgers’ near-term rotation picture.

    Downs also took off and reached the penultimate level of the minors in his first (and, it turns out, only) season in the Los Angeles organization. The middle infielder spent most of the season pummeling High-A pitching and ended the campaign with a cumulative .276/.362/.526 slash and 24 home runs through 535 plate appearances. The Dodgers preferred to keep Downs, but he ended up being a necessary piece of the team’s bold bid to add superstar Mookie Betts. When the original deal fell apart, the club agreed to a modified pact that sent Downs to the Red Sox as the key prospect asset.

    The original Dodgers-Reds trade unquestionably delivered a hit to the Dodgers’ 2019 talent pool. Otherwise, they never would’ve been able to pull it off. But the club’s immense depth left a robust mix in both the outfield and the rotation. The Dodgers rightly anticipated they’d be just fine with losing this trio of players. Sure enough, the club led all of baseball in outfield WAR and tied for second in the rotation.

    Funny enough, this one could’ve worked out even better for the Dodgers. Baseball being the bizarre game that it is, Bailey actually ended up being the most productive player in this deal in 2019. He contributed 2.0 rWAR/2.9 fWAR … though not to the Dodgers, who cut him loose after the swap. Bailey caught on with the Royals and ended up being acquired by the Athletics, throwing well enough to earn a $7MM contract with the Twins this winter. To be fair, even had the Dodgers given it a shot, they may not have had room for Bailey on their already loaded staff.

    The others involved didn’t fare as well, last season or in free agency. Puig didn’t play quite to expectations before the mid-summer trade. He remains the best free agent that has yet to sign. Kemp was cut loose after a brutal early showing and is now on a minor-league pact with the Marlins. And Wood? He missed most of 2019 with injury, severely curtailing the Reds’ side of this deal. But he did return late in the season, just enough to show he’s back to health … and to earn a return to Los Angeles on an incentive-laden, $4MM deal that could work out quite nicely for the Dodgers if he can return to form.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[A Max Return On Investment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=196113 2020-04-28T06:25:06Z 2020-04-28T06:25:06Z Even in April, the first full month of a typical Major League Baseball season, there’s room for high-impact transactions. To name one example, we’re coming up on exactly three years since Dodgers president Andrew Friedman further stacked the perennial NL West champions’ roster. On April 29, 2017, Friedman and the Dodgers announced the signing of infielder Max Muncy to a minor league contract. What looked like a nondescript signing then has turned into yet another of Friedman-led front office’s wise moves in Los Angeles.

    Muncy came into the pros as a fifth-round pick of the Athletics in 2012, and he reached the majors three years later. However, from 2015-16, Muncy was anything but a valuable player for Oakland. He took 245 major league trips to the plate during that span and struggled to a .195/.290/.321 line with minus-0.7 fWAR. And Muncy wasn’t a world-beater with the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, where he posted an OPS under .800 in parts of two seasons there. The A’s outrighted him in January 2017.

    If you were an A’s fan whose team lost Muncy three years ago or a Dodgers loyalist whose club added him, “Who cares?” may have been a justifiable reaction. But nobody knew then that Muncy would soon establish himself as one of the biggest-hitting players in the sport.

    Muncy didn’t appear in the majors during his first season with the Dodgers, but he did slash an encouraging .309/.414/.491 across 379 plate appearances with their Triple-A team in Oklahoma City. Muncy has scarcely played in the minors since then because he has simply been too good in the majors to go back.

    Muncy took his first at-bat with the Dodgers on April 17, 2018, chipping in a pinch-hit single in an extra-innings victory over the Padres. He has piled up 225 more regular-season hits since then while slashing .256/.381/.545 with 70 home runs in 1,070 trips to the plate. Since Muncy joined the big club, just 14 major league position players have outdone his fWAR total (10.0), while only seven have bettered him in wRC+ (146). He’s right there with Nelson Cruz, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and teammate Cody Bellinger in the latter category. Hard to believe when you consider where he was a few years back. But it’s not just about the regular season for the Dodgers. They’re a playoff team every year, and Muncy hasn’t wilted on that stage. Remember this homer?

    Adding to the 29-year-old Muncy’s value, he’s no slouch in the field. He accounted for a positive Defensive Runs Saved figure last year at three different positions – first, second and third. He’s one of seemingly countless Swiss Army knife-type players on the Dodgers’ roster, and among the key contributors to a team that has stayed dominant of late and should again vie for a championship whenever baseball resumes. The Dodgers are believers, having given Muncy a three-year, $26MM extension in February. Not a bad outcome for someone who first joined the organization on a non-guaranteed deal.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Standing Up For Stripling]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=195815 2020-04-23T06:47:03Z 2020-04-23T05:17:08Z Right-hander Ross Stripling has been a member of the Dodgers organization since going in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, but he came close to joining one of the majors’ other Southern California-based teams over the winter. Back in February, the Dodgers were on the cusp of a trade that would have sent Stripling to the Angels in a deal headlined by Joc Pederson (more on Pederson here). That plan fell through, however, and Stripling is still a member of the Dodgers. Frankly, that doesn’t look like a bad thing at all for the club.

    Set to enter his age-30 season (that’s if we get one), Stripling has established himself as a valuable Swiss Army knife for the Dodgers’ pitching staff. Whether as a starter or a reliever, Stripling has gotten the job done since he debuted in the majors in 2016. He’s the owner of a 3.51 ERA with an almost identical 3.60 FIP across 387 career innings. He continued his sturdy pitching last season, a 90 2/3-inning effort in which he posted a matching 3.47 ERA/FIP across 32 appearances and 15 starts.

    With 9.23 K/9 against 1.99 BB/9, Stripling finished 21st among all pitchers who threw at least 90 innings in K/BB ratio in 2019, sandwiching him between the Indians’ Mike Clevinger and teammate Clayton Kershaw. Stripling also induced grounders at a little better than a 50 percent clip, and despite well-below-average velocity (90.5 mph on his fastball), Statcast was generally a fan of his work. He limited hitters to a .294 weighted on-base average, essentially turning them into the 2019 version of light-hitting White Sox utilityman Leury Garcia, and managed an even better .278 expected wOBA. Stripling ranked in the majors’ 84th percentile in the xwOBA category, and that’s nothing new for a pitcher who has held batters to a nonthreatening .284 xwOBA during his time in the majors.

    Assuming Stripling does remain a Dodger going forward, it’s unclear how many starts he’ll be in position to rack up. Some of Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Alex Wood, Jimmy Nelson and Tony Gonsolin are locks to wind up in their 2020 rotation or, if there is no season, the ’21 version. Others are at least solid candidates to pick up starts. But one of the juggernaut Dodgers’ greatest strengths is their ability to build depth just about everywhere on the diamond. Stripling’s part of that, even if he doesn’t have a defined role, and the fact he’s under affordable control via arbitration for the next three seasons should only make him more appealing from the club’s perspective.

    Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has made one shrewd move after another since he took the helm of the team’s front office after the 2014 season. It’s hard to second-guess him, so maybe he was on to something with his willingness to move on from Stripling. Based on what Stripling has done to date, though, keeping him has a chance to go down as a blessing for LA.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Is There Any Way The Dodgers Can Win The Mookie Betts Trade?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=195671 2020-04-22T06:44:49Z 2020-04-22T06:44:06Z In today’s video, Jeff Todd and I discuss how the Mookie Betts trade is affected by the coronavirus, and whether there might be a silver lining for the Dodgers.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Ace-Off: Buehler v. Bieber]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=195401 2020-04-18T00:59:13Z 2020-04-18T00:59:13Z Two of the preeminent young starters in baseball have emerged in the cities of Los Angeles and Cleveland over the past couple years. With no disrespect to Dodgers great Clayton Kershaw, who’s one of the best to ever take the mound, right-hander Walker Buehler has assumed the mantle of the club’s most valuable starter when you combine age, contract and performance. Meanwhile, the Indians have a similarly enviable rotation piece to build around in righty Shane Bieber, who joined Buehler among the majors’ most productive pitchers in 2019. So, here’s a question that has no wrong answer: If you had to pick one, which of the two would you choose?

    To begin, they’re almost the same age, and they’re under team control for the same number of years. The 25-year-old Buehler won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2024. As a Super Two player, he brings one more pre-arbitration campaign to the table (though it won’t matter if there is no 2020 season). Bieber, who will turn 25 next month, is due to reach free agency at the same time, but he’s in his penultimate pre-arb year.

    As for on-field results, Buehler has the edge on Bieber thus far in terms of run prevention. Excluding 9 1/3 rough debut innings as a reliever in 2017, Buehler has parlayed a 96 mph-plus fastball into a sterling 2.98 ERA/3.02 FIP with 10.3 K/9 and 2.08 BB/9 across 319 2/3 innings over the past two seasons.

    Bieber also began to make his mark in 2018, and while his 4.55 ERA didn’t wow anyone, his peripherals indicated that he deserved better. Although he doesn’t match Buehler’s velocity (Bieber averages 93 mph on his heater), he nonetheless broke out in earnest last season. Bieber notched a 3.28 ERA/3.32 FIP and put up 10.88 K/9 against 1.68 BB/9 in 214 1/3 frames – the second-highest total in the game (only AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander amassed a larger amount) and 32 more than Buehler’s 182 1/3. Buehler had a very similar year otherwise, though, posting a 3.26 ERA/3.01 FIP and recording 10.61 K/9 versus 1.83 BB/9. He further put himself on the map with 12 2/3 exemplary innings of one-run ball in a playoff series loss to the eventual World Series champion Nationals.

    It’s obvious there’s a ton to like about this tandem. Buehler and Bieber have not only already established themselves as elite pitchers in their mid-20s, but perhaps elite players in general. Going forward, however, which one would you take to head up your rotation? (Poll link for app users)

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[The Awkward Tenure & Uncertain Future Of A Steady Dodgers Slugger]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=194955 2020-04-16T15:44:07Z 2020-04-16T15:44:07Z Any guesses as to which Dodgers player has hit the most total dingers since the start of the 2015 season? That’d be outfielder Joc Pederson, with a tally of 123.

    Sure, he has since been bypassed in more recent seasons by younger slugger Cody Bellinger and the suddenly emergent Max Muncy. And several other excellent players have delivered more WAR to the L.A. franchise over the years. But Joc has been a consistent source of prodigious power for the Dodgers since he first emerged in the majors.

    There’s a major caveat here, of course. Last year, all of Pederson’s 36 home runs came against right-handed pitching. He stepped into the box only fifty times against southpaws, managing only a putrid .224/.240/.265 batting line. That’s only marginally better than his .188/.263/.310 lifetime mark against same-handed hurlers. But against righties? Pederson owns a stellar 131 wRC+ in his MLB career.

    That excellent output against righties is of obvious value to the Dodgers, but hardly assured Pederson’s place on the roster. He’s set to earn $7.75MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility — a bit spendy given the team’s other players and roster plans. The Dodgers worked hard to deal him this past offseason, reportedly holding talks with the White Sox before finally agreeing to a deal with the Angels … one that ultimately fell apart for other reasons (more details on that collapse here).

    This wasn’t the first time we heard trade chatter on Joc … far from it, in fact. Pederson’s status in Los Angeles has never really been assured — even when he was flying up the prospect charts and emerging as a high-end young MLB talent. A former 11th-round draft pick, Pederson was batted around in trade talks long before he reached the majors and the chatter never stopped thereafter.

    The Dodgers wouldn’t include Pederson in trade talks involving Jon Lester (link), Cole Hamels (link), David Price (link), and Shelby Miller (link). At one point Pederson was asked about in talks involving Marlins star Jose Fernandez. There was talk of a deal even after a rough 2017 season during which he was temporarily demoted. He was connected to the Braves last winter.

    It seems now that the Dodgers might’ve been better served cashing in on Pederson’s trade value when it peaked. But it’s far from a total whiff. He has provided 10.9 rWAR and 13.1 fWAR to the Los Angeles club in 705 games. Strikeouts were the concern when he was younger, but they haven’t prevented him from achieving a lifetime 120 wRC+. The real issue has been the intense platoon needs, though that probably bothers this organization less than any other.

    Throughout this lengthy run of success, the Dodgers have moved through quite a number of different players. They’ve leaned on some huge stars and many role players. One of the steadiest forces has been Pederson’s prodigious output against right-handed pitching. And he has risen to the occasion in the postseason, turning in a cumulative .239/.326/.487 slash with seven long balls in 133 plate appearances.

    The waiting game that all teams are presently experiencing is even more awkward for Pederson and the Dodgers. It was already weird for him to return to camp after the collapsed trade. Now, as he closes in on his 28th birthday, it’s still possible the California native has already played his last game in a Dodgers uniform after a decade in the organization. If the 2020 season does indeed get underway, Pederson is sure to get plenty of plate appearances against right-handed pitching, but not much opportunity to prove to potential future suitors that he can be trusted to hit lefties.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[What Happens To The Mookie Betts Trade If The Season Is Canceled?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=195140 2020-04-21T18:39:18Z 2020-04-15T05:00:27Z If the 2020 MLB season is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, players will receive service time equal to the amount they accrued in 2019.  That’s a win for any player who received a full year in ’19, as they’d remain on track for free agency as expected.  That includes Mookie Betts, George Springer, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, and everyone else expected to be in the 2020-21 free agent class.

    A canceled season would sting for someone like Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux, who picked up 28 days of Major League service as a rookie last year but was likely to get a full season in 2020.  Lux’s free agency would have arrived after the 2025 season, but if this season is canceled, he’ll project to become a free agent after ’26.  And then there are others who didn’t get any MLB service in ’19 but were expected to in ’20, such as Wander Franco, Jo Adell, and Nate Pearson.

    It’s worth considering how the balance would shift in recent major trades if there’s no 2020 season.  The Betts trade, where the Dodgers’ main acquisition was a star rental player, dramatically shifts toward the Red Sox.

    Pre-coronavirus expectations of the Mookie Betts trade:

    • Dodgers get one year of Mookie Betts, three years of David Price, $48MM from the Red Sox and can make Betts a qualifying offer after the season
    • Red Sox get five years of Alex Verdugo, six years of Jeter Downs and six years of Connor Wong

    Canceled season results of the Mookie Betts trade:

    • Dodgers get zero years of Mookie Betts, two years of David Price, $32MM from Red Sox and can make Betts a qualifying offer
    • Red Sox get four years of Alex Verdugo, six years of Jeter Downs and six years of Connor Wong

    The Red Sox had been scheduled to pay $48MM to the Dodgers in 18 equal installments, starting tomorrow.  However, MLBTR has confirmed that all cash considerations will be adjusted proportionally to the salary reductions that end up occurring in 2020.  So if the Dodgers don’t wind up paying Price in 2020, the Red Sox won’t send money to them.  My $32MM figure assumes the 2021 season is played in full.

    Price remains a useful pitcher, so it’s not as if the Red Sox gave up nothing of value.  And while they’d still pay the Dodgers $32MM in 2021-22, that’s only half what they’d have originally owed Price for his age 35-36 seasons.  The Sox might have accepted that arrangement with nothing in return from the Dodgers, but they still get to keep Verdugo, Downs, and Wong.  Though a canceled season would mean the Red Sox would lose the chance to reset under the luxury tax in 2020, that will be less challenging in ’21 given the Price trade and the fact that Jackie Bradley Jr. ($11MM) will be coming off the books.

    The Dodgers, meanwhile, would find themselves without Betts, Verdugo, or Joc Pederson for the 2021 season (unless they re-sign Pederson as a free agent).  They’d lose a crucial year of control of Cody Bellinger, who would likely settle back in as the regular right fielder.  That would leave A.J. Pollock as the regular center fielder.  The Dodgers would have an even bigger question mark in left, where Pederson, Verdugo, and Pollock combined to take more than half of the innings in 2019.  Chris Taylor and Matt Beaty would be the main in-house candidates, so the Dodgers would likely have to make an outfield acquisition.

    Betts could still wind up playing meaningful games for the Dodgers if the 2020 season is canceled, as they’d be a top contender for him in what could be a strange free agency period.  It would hardly be a shock to see the entire free agent market suffer due to teams’ lost revenue in 2020, forcing Betts to settle for less than he expected prior to the pandemic.

    Could the Dodgers receive some sort of recourse on the Betts trade if the season is canceled?  I polled MLBTR writers Steve Adams, Jeff Todd, and Connor Byrne, and none of them find that likely.  As Steve put it, “If there’s an alteration to the Betts deal, that just seems like opening Pandora’s box. Every team in the league would be clamoring for compensation because almost everyone would be getting screwed to some extent.”  Whether it’s the Reds acquiring Trevor Bauer last summer with an eye toward 2020, the Diamondbacks losing one of their two years of Starling Marte, or the Rangers losing a year of Corey Kluber, many teams are dealing with a similar situation.

    For more on this topic, check out my new video discussion with Jeff Todd:

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