Dodgers: A Trade for Alex Colome Makes Perfect Sense
By Jacob Rudner
The Dodgers found themselves amongst the majority this past offseason. The team chose to lay dormant throughout the winter and they spent sparingly on improving the roster. They were in a salary crunch for cap-space and that, along with a stacked 2019 free agency class, served as the team’s motivation to remain thrifty.
In staying cost-effective and cautious, the Dodgers’ offseason activities on the free agency market were limited. The team resigned Chase Utley to a two-year deal and along with him, they added just one other player: Tom Koehler.
The expectations for Koehler were strong. He was coming off a year in which he was lackluster as a starter but really shined once he was moved to the pen. The 31-year-old righty quietly gained a following because fans thought he was going to be the next Brandon Morrow in that he would develop into an elite reliever following many years of mediocrity.
With expectations high and spirits higher, Koehler was ready to play. In his first game, he struggled but his pitches looked fine so there was little to worry about. His second game, however, was a disaster. Koehler entered the game in the second inning and got just one out before walking from the mound with a trainer. It was later announced that he had injured something in his shoulder and could miss “weeks to months.”
So, with Koehler out for the beginning of the year if not longer, the Dodgers are left without their only bullpen pitching addition of the offseason. And, while there may be internal replacement options, the Dodgers should really look to Tampa Bay to acquire a reliever often brought up in trade rumors: Alex Colome.
Alex Colome is a solid reliever. He led the league in saves in 2017 and got the job done with his 3.24 ERA, 128 ERA+, and 1.200 WHIP. He was an All-Star in 2016 and his abilities as a closer are obvious. But, in an offseason that saw the Rays trade away Evan Longoria, the team’s inclination to trade the successful bullpen arm could be at an all-time high and it may be time to take advantage.
The Dodgers have been connected to Colome in the past. The 29-year-old reliever has been in rumors for the last season and a half and Los Angeles has been at the front of those for much of that time. But, a deal for Colome at this moment makes more sense than anything.
For starters, Colome effective both as a high leverage reliever and has the ability to pitch multiple innings. Early on in his career, Colome like many great relievers before him broke into the league as a starting pitcher. When that went poorly, Colome made the move to the pen and has been there ever since. But, now in the pen, the former starter has the arm to throw one or two innings of quality baseball.
Second, Colome is on budget friendly deal with two years of control. Financially speaking it does not get better than that especially for a team trying to watch its spending.
Lastly, the return for the pitcher who showed some regression in 2017 in his strikeout rate and an increase in walk rate could be quite reasonable.
That brings me to my next point: the return itself. No matter how you slice it Colome is a good pitcher that will not sell for anything “cheap”. But, the Dodgers have a surplus in depth and
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prospects and since the Rays are trying to rebuild and get younger, the Dodgers should be able to sweeten the deal with that exact minor league talent.
The first piece the Dodgers would give in my prospect oriented deal is Yadier Alvarez. Alvarez is just 21-years-old and has the raw talent to be either a great starter or late inning reliever. His 100 mile per hour fastball should entice any buyer and he would headline the deal to the Rays.
Player two may come as a surprise to Dodger fans but young catcher, Will Smith, makes sense for this deal. The Rays’ catching depth is weak, to say the least. Their best catching prospect ranks 30th in their system and their major league catching is not great either. Will Smith, on the other hand, is a great young catcher who does very well with both the bat and the glove.
But, if you are confused as to why the Dodgers should give him up allow me to explain. The Dodgers catching depth, unlike the Rays, is stacked. With Austin Barnes being one of the biggest rising names in baseball, Yasmani Grandal still on the roster, and Kyle Farmer crushing the ball in spring, the major league backstop talent alone is outstanding. Behind them is the outstanding prospect Keibert Ruiz and if you take all four of their skills into consideration and notice that the oldest of the four is just 29, the Dodgers can afford to get rid of Smith.
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The reality is this, the Dodgers have plenty of options in-house to fill the hole left by Tom Koehler. But, Koehler’s absence could be a good enough excuse to make a play on Alex Colome who is an upper echelon reliever. Plug him into the eighth inning role and move Scott Alexander to the seventh, and the Dodgers would have arguably the best last three innings in baseball. Making a trade for Colome makes perfect sense.