Dodgers Make… Lots Of Moves
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Last night was kinda crazy, huh? This front office wears me out, man after long stretches of inactivity and seemingly moments of ineptitude (where were you guys on Tyler Clippard!?), the Dodgers dropped a hammer on the league yesterday, the trade:
Dodgers: Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson, Michael Morse (????)
Marlins: Lots of dollars, Jeff Brigham, Victor Araujo and Kevin Guzman
Braves: Next year’s 34th overall pick, Zack Bird, Hector Olivera, Paco Rodriguez
Did I miss anything?
This felt a whole lot like the Andrew Heaney 3 way trade that happened, December of last year where the Dodgers completed an absolute blockbuster of a trade while giving up nothing other than money.
I feel like this has to be clear, for basically anybody who performs analysis of this trade must assume that the Dodgers are so freaking rich to where not only does the luxury tax not hurt them, but the operation they are running (buying good talent from teams who either A: have cheap owners or B: cannot sustain a large payroll) is actually a sustainable one. Saying these things would be unprecedented, and maybe it is in the context of an ever expanding television market, but hell who knows how sustainable that time warner cable TV deal really is.
Good freaking job, Friedman and Zaidi. Buying talent that is comparable to the alternative is what we should have expected from this team and that’s exactly what they’re doing. Even if you assume that Alex Wood isn’t the “dirt cheap pseudo ace pitcher” that some metrics will have you believe, the value that they got (retained) by not trading away Jose De Leon and Grant Holmes while also getting a proven #3 starter with some apparent upside is a really cool and good deal.
Talking about Alex Wood, he’s only 24 years old and doesn’t turn 25 until next year, he has a career 3.10 ERA and a 3.17 FIP, which (by rate stats) are on par with the best players traded this trade deadline. I won’t go as far as to say that Wood is a middle class man’s David Price or Cole Hamels, because Wood very clearly lags behind in the innings pitched department, but I dare you to complain about a man who has a 84 ERA- and a 85 FIP-.
The concerns are legitimate with that type of pitcher sporting that type of delivery, and the concerns have been there since his tommy john surgery 5 years ago, “will he hold up”?
It’s a question I can’t answer, but it’s also one that I shouldn’t have to answer because he seems like a good bet to hold up this season, and the Dodgers got him for nothing. His status in the future is impending, and ironically years of control is the big get in this trade, but as a win now piece, he’s certainly better than Yovani Gallardo or Mike Leake so i’m absolutely on board with his acquisition (as long as this predicates the team signing a durable ace this offseason).
As for the rest, Jim Johnson has a 2.25 ERA and a 3.18 FIP this season with a 60.8% GB%, 2014 appears to be an aberration of a year, and he looks closer to the pitcher that he was when he was closing games with the Orioles than wetting the bed with the A’s last season. Luis Avilan is holding left handed pitchers to a 1.49 FIP this season and insurance in case Liberatore can’t regain his April form.
Michael Morse seems like a classic “flip” candidate and might even go to Atlanta in this trade, so his existence on the roster seems extraneous at best.
But this trade deadline has brought us some interesting names, and in the same way that Alex Wood compares favorably to Drew Smyly in terms of handedness, underratedness, and a quality controllable asset, Mat Latos seems to compare to Brandon McCarthy in the sense that some team that believes in predictive stats will take a flyer on him and reap the benefits.
Last year the Yankees traded for (rental) Brandon McCarthy after seeing him post a 5.01 ERA through July 3rd. The team clearly believed that the 20.0% HR/FB rate was going to regress, and it absolutely did, as he posted a 2.89 ERA/2.85 xFIP from July 9th onward, that xFIP was almost exactly in line with his 2.88 xFIP prior to July 9th.
This could work out similarly with the Dodgers and Latos considering Mat’s 4.48 ERA/3.35 FIP split. Latos and McCarthy are different in the sense that Latos underperforming his FIP probably had some real bearing on his ability, like Jeff Sullivan points out, his fastball velocity was 2 ticks less than it was in 2012 and 2013, Latos went on the DL with a knee issue this year and his velocity returned basically to where it was when he was a 85 ERA-/88 FIP- type talent. Latos was likely more hittable for the first part of this year and when his velocity returned, so did his form. If his returning velocity and FIP have anything to say about the last 2 months of this year, it’s that the Dodgers are going to get a good to very good starter that is only 27 years old.
Health is the key for all of these pitchers, and it didn’t work out when the Dodgers signed McCarthy, but now instead of the backup plan being Carlos Frias and a severely compromised Brandon Beachy, it’s Mike Bolsinger!
And OH BY THE WAY, the Dodgers got the best 2b prospect in the minors in Jose Peraza who’s been pegged by fangraphs as a 55 future value. Peraza, if they keep him, might be the heir apparent to Howie Kendrick at the keystone, he doesn’t walk much (3.5% BB% in AAA this season) but he makes a ton of contact and is said to have 70 grade speed, which isn’t that far behind Dee Gordon. If you want to use that kind of player as a comparison, it’d be a good starting point for Jose. At this point he is only 21 years old and has a 97 wRC+ at AAA, so while the results aren’t totally there he’s 6 years younger than the league average fringe major leaguer, so he has time to figure it out.
The repercussions of this deal are massive, Hector Olivera, the 60+ million dollar Cuban defectee won’t play for the Dodgers, but the Dodgers did use him to get massive talent available, and while he should it at the major league level, he might not have a defensive position. Besides, there is no way to convince me that he will provide more value at 2b for the Dodgers at age 31+ than he will in this particular deal for some premium talent.
Paco will be missed, I suppose, but all of the other pieces are either draft picks who were used to get better value, or lottery tickets. Zach Bird might not ever put it all together, plus Jeff Brigham, Victor Aruajo and Kevin Guzman are probably organizational type arms that nobody will notice.