Dodgers trade Willie Calhoun, others for Yu Darvish
As mentioned above, Andrew Friedman has done a great job of steering trade partners towards less-rated prospects in the system, preserving some of the top talents to contribute to the big league club over the years. However, there was one trade that Friedman was forced to stray from that path and give up one of his best prospects.
That was the July 31, 2017 trade that brought Yu Darvish to the Dodgers.
A two-time All-Star in Texas, Darvish was set to be a free agent after the 2017 season and was easily the top available starter on the market. Los Angeles had a 14-game lead in the NL West and didn’t show any signs of needing a big addition at the deadline. However, Friedman and Farhan Zaidi opted to add Darvish because they thought the club was a World Series contender and needed one more piece to make them the favorite to win it all.
To make a trade happen with Texas, and likely keep Darvish from other contenders, the Dodgers parted ways with then #3 overall prospect Willie Calhoun, as well as pitcher A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis.
Darvish gave the Dodgers nine starts down the stretch, working to a 4-3 record with a 3.44 ERA, a 3.38 FIP, and an 11.1 K/9 ratio. In particular, his final three starts of the season looked promising, with Darvish going 2-0, surrendering just one earned run and striking out 21 over 19.1 innings of work. He would add two quality starts in the NLDS and NLCS respectively, allowing just two earned runs (both on solo home runs) over his 11.1 innings.
The rest, they say, is written in history.
Darvish would get rocked in two World Series starts, allowing nine hits, two home runs, and eight earned runs (nine total) over just 3.2 combined innings and contributing to the Dodgers’ loss in the 2017 World Series. Of course, that performance comes with two asterisks; one for Darvish purportedly tipping his pitches and the other for the Astros cheating scandal.
The deal hurt all the more for the Dodgers due to the cost to acquire Darvish. While Alexy and Davis are not likely to amount to everyday pieces, Calhoun blossomed in his first extended stay in the big leagues in 2019. Getting ample opportunity starting in mid-May, Calhoun went on to slash .269/.323/.524 with 21 home runs and 48 RBI over 309 at-bats for the Rangers. Now 25-years-old, Calhoun was flagged as a breakout candidate in 2020, before he took a fastball to the face in Spring Training and the season was put on hold due to Coronavirus concerns.
It’s tough to know if Calhoun would have factored into the Dodgers plans currently, with Gavin Lux being a better prospect at second base and the outfield well-manned, but his bat certainly would have played.