Casey Sadler’s 29th birthday is just five days away, he’ll spend it on a new team and it’ll be the first time in his career, one that has spanned 10 total seasons, that his new team will be the result of a trade.
“Ten seasons in baseball and this was our first time experiencing a trade,” Sadler wrote on his Twitter. “And it was to the Dodgers none the less!”
Sadler was acquired by Los Angeles on July third after the currently 28-year-old righty was designated for assignment by the Rays on June 28th. Sadler was a victim of a roster crunch, one that began with Tampa Bay’s top prospect, two-way player Brendon McCay, needing a spot on the 40-man and active rosters. McCay’s placement on Tampa’s big league squad wouldn’t have been stopped for anyone and Sadler, the odd man out was chosen to go.
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However, it was not because of performance that the 2010 25th round pick was removed from the roster. In 19.1 major league innings this year, Sadler had surrendered four earned runs and had a 1.89 ERA. His ERA+ in those frames was 247. His departure from the second best team in the AL East was purely based on a lack of roster spots and a need for more of them. The Dodgers saw that as an opportunity and swept him up.
First of all, Sadler joining the Dodgers had to have been an at least semi-competitive process and he had to have been a desirable acquisition for multiple teams just by virtue of the fact that he was acquired in exchange for a player. The Dodgers sent Low-A pitcher, Nathan Witt to the Rays to complete the transaction. In DFA cases where a player is picked up by another team, often times it is done for cash or a player to be named later. Sadler was not that way and it appears to be a “best offer” situation.
But, despite needing to pay a little extra for a DFA piece, the Dodgers quick trigger on Sadler could very easily pay off.
Sadler is a sinkerballer relying heavily on a 93 mile per hour arm-side dropper that helps produce his nearly 55 percent ground ball rate. Behind the sinker, Sadler uses a changeup, slider and curveball of which the curveball ranks near the top of the major leagues in spin rate.
That’s what Sadler brings to the table better than many of the recent Dodger pitching acquisitions: he spins the ball at unbelievable rates. His curveball, which sits in the 91st percentile of big league curves by spin, whips around at a rate of 2,836 rpm and a slider that rips in at 2,556 rpm. His sinker also has good spin but the moral of the story is the baseline stuff Sadler throws is unbelievably good. Whether it’s been a coaching issue in the past or simply not being told to use the right stuff in certain situations, Sadler has only warranted two big league call-ups in his lengthy minor league tenure and the Dodgers might be able to re-maximize what he throws.
This feels similar to when the Dodgers traded for Tony Cingrani. Cingrani despite being a lefty, had great baseline stuff. His slider was elite and his fastball was fine but used too often which, in turn, devalued just how good the slider was. The Dodger saw that and took him on to encourage throwing a slider and after some work and a near 20 percent increase in slider usage, Cingrani was a great addition for the bullpen and could continue to be one with good health.
Sadler could easily operate in the same fashion. He has the stuff, especially the curveball and slider to be dangerously good for a bullpen. The Dodgers have an amazing track record of tapping into a guy with more raw talent and turning them into something great and Sadler presents that opportunity.
He was acquired on the back-end of a DFA. The Dodgers saw the potential and the great stuff and now they can take advantage of pitches that are already highly regarded. Sadler may be experiencing his first trade but this new journey should benefit both sides.