The Dodgers were fishing in a small pond, to begin with. The fish were big and worth their while but the cost at which they came was debatably not worth it. Felipe Vazquez, the biggest fish in the metaphorical pond, was the most costly to go after. Shane Greene closely followed suit and the Dodgers would ultimately settle for just two deadline deals.
The second deal was announced after time was up. The Dodgers traded a power-hitting prospect with rising stock to Tampa Bay and for him, they got a reliever they hope will fill the shoes of players that never have been and never will be Dodgers. Adam Kolarek will have to be what Vazquez, Will Smith and Greene can’t be: a stable reliever for a team that needs bullpen stability.
Acquiring Kolarek is a deal typical of this time of year. The Dodgers have pursued smaller name bullpen arms at the deadline in the past and Kolarek, a former pawn in the Rays’ intricate bullpen usage system, has been reliable for Tampa Bay enough so that the trade, which had the Dodgers sending just one prospect to Tampa, was well worth it.
But, what about the other move? The only other move the Dodgers made as time expired to make a deal on July 31, 2019. The move that had 30-year-old Jedd Gyorko removed from the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster and added to the Dodgers. That move was a trade from August in July.
On March 13 of this year, Ken Rosenthal put out a series of tweets and wrote in an article that Major League Baseball will, “switch to a single non-waiver deadline on July 31.” The change came in hopes of putting an end to late decisions about buying or selling and forced teams to decide their fates at the end of July rather than almost a month later in August. The rule change, brought to the table by the MLB Players Union, was also put in play in favor of more job security and certainty for players that, otherwise, would have been traded in August.
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The changes were earth-shattering. Teams could no longer make their moves in July, see where they stand just a few weeks later and round out the roster one more time with the waiver deadline still a few days off. Teams had to make their moves from August in July and load themselves up with the stars of July trades and the unsung heroes of the month that follows.
“I can’t wait to begin this new journey with the Dodgers,” Gyorko wrote on his Twitter. “Let’s get that ring!”
The trade was odd for a few reasons. One, the Dodgers made a move in July that sent a highly injured reliever and a 19-year-old unknown foreign prospect back to the Cardinals for a player that has been in the major leagues consistently since 2013 when he finished sixth in the rookie of the year voting. Gyorko hit 50 home runs between 2016 and ’17 and the veteran whose career started in the NL West with the Padres was acquired for the scraps of the Dodgers roster and a mystery prospect.
But, the trade’s true oddity was that it occurred. The Dodgers lead the division marginally as major league baseball heads into its final two months of regular season play. Their offense has been an unstoppable juggernaut and the starting rotation has been equally as impressive.
But, the Dodgers made a trade for a player that hasn’t fit the young and powerful Dodger brand since he hit 30 home runs in 2016. Gyorko, in 2019, has been as useful as a baseball glove with a hole in the middle yet, the Dodgers still pulled the trigger on a trade that saw them send away Tony Cingrani. The Dodgers made their August move in July.
Gyorko hasn’t been a 20 home run threat for a while but he does play second base, shortstop and third fairly well and can mix in left field if need be. His bat is still serviceable especially against left-handed pitching and, after having thrown an inning and a third over the last two seasons, Gyorko lists himself as a pitcher in his twitter bio.
The Dodgers intentions with this trade are fairly obvious: make the “just in case” move that can’t be made in a month from now, right now. It protects the team not being able to make an August waiver trade and those are always necessary.
Gyorko also won’t need a roster spot for a while. He’s on the 60-day IL with a back issue and isn’t expected to reappear until late August or September. He’s collected just 56 at-bats this year and hit .196 but the sample size for success is minuscule and there’s no telling how hurt he was in those 56 chances to collect hits.
Trading for Gyorko was not a horrible idea if he gets healthy. In his career, he’s hitting .271 off left-handed pitching and can play multiple positions. It is as “August trade” as it gets but truth be told, since August doesn’t exist anymore, it was a move worth making. Happy August.