It was August 9, 2007. The Dodgers were five games behind the first place Diamondbacks who were, at the time, the NL’s winningest team with 65 wins. The led the NL West by three games over the second place Padres, five games over the Rockies and Dodgers, both of which were 59-55 and 14.5 games better than the last place Giants.
The Houston Astros were in the NL Central, Clayton Kershaw was finishing his first season of minor league baseball and Cody Bellinger was 12-years-old.
The Dodgers wanted to shift things around on the roster. Then general manager, Ned Colletti told ESPN that the Dodgers needed someone who could work well off the bench, someone who could be a change of pace in the lineup and provide quality plate appearances without the luxury of consistent playing time.
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His solution was in Giants’ outfielder and first baseman, Mark Sweeney.
The trade was simple by the eye test. The Dodgers acquired a guy that played sparingly, one that even Giants’ GM, Brian Sabean knew was necessary, telling ESPN that, “[the Giants] aren’t a good enough team to even have Mark on it as a premium pinch hitter.” But, slightly beyond what the eye could see was the history Mark Sweeney’s trade would belong too. His move down the coast of California was just the third trade between the two franchises since the two moved to the West Coast.
Now, in 2019, the Dodgers may look to add a fourth to that list.
It’s really no secret what the first place Dodgers need this year. In a season that has been all but perfect, the bullpen has been the only area of question and with that even halfway better than it is now, the Dodgers could be looking at their first ring in over three decades. However, to get there, trade is almost certainly necessary and in the Giants’ closer Will Smith, they see that fix.
Smith’s credentials this year fit the bill. He’s a tall left-handed pitcher with a 2019 ERA just slightly above 2.00, a 13.5 K/9 rate and an end of game presence that has rewarded him with 20 saves this season.
Smith has been the bright spot on a rather dark Giants roster and his movement this deadline is certain, the Dodgers joining the mix could, as has been reported, be apart of that movement.
Jon Morosi confirmed on Twitter on Tuesday morning that both sides have not ruled out a transaction between the two teams for the first time since 2007. The trade would send the high productive 29-year-old southpaw to the Dodgers and the return would more than likely have to be an enticing group of prospects to help bolster a weak Giants’ farm system.
That, for many people, presents the biggest challenge, how much are the Dodgers willing to send to a team they face often and every season in players that will be able to hurt them for many more years to come. Sending prospects within a division is always dangerous especially to a team whose goal is to stockpile youth and use it later.
But, Smith joining the Dodgers pen could answer that question fairly swiftly. The lefty’s handedness alone would be of use to the Dodgers whose left-handed relievers beyond Julio Urias are rather lacking. Caleb Ferguson has been up and down, Scott Alexander has battled consistency as well as injury and adding a power lefty with a great four-pitch mix is hard to say no to when the goal of a season becomes as narrow as stay hot and improve the bullpen.
Additionally, acquiring Smith opens the door for struggling Dodgers relievers to figure things out without the pressure of high leverage. Dylan Floro falls into that category and even Joe Kelly, who has, at least lately, gotten back on the horse, could regress and not hurt the team. The Dodgers would have two elite closers in one bullpen and the back end of games would be incredibly effective.
Alternatively, should things sour between the two teams, both of which are led by former coworkers, due to price or divisional issues, the Dodgers could fall back on players like Amir Garrett or Brad Hand to solve the high-leverage lefty needs.
The Dodgers need the bullpen help. The Giants have a guy that would solve tons of problems and all of it would culminate in joining a group of very rare trades. The Dodgers and Giants could easily do that this year and Will Smith would be the centerpiece.