Back before the 2019 season — you know, when the winter meetings were a thing and the months/weeks leading up to Opening Day were characterized by trades, free agency signings, and everything in between — the Los Angeles Dodgers struck a fairly shocking blockbuster deal with the Cincinnati Reds.
Remember that one? You might’ve fallen out of your chair getting the notification on Twitter. And the ripple effects it had certainly did the same.
In December of 2018, the Dodgers sent Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and cash to the Reds in exchange for pitcher Homer Bailey (salary dump) and prospects Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs.
With all the depth LA possesses in its outfield and on its pitching staff, there was a ton of incentive for them to get this deal done and add to their farm system. It also helped that the Dodgers were the only team that knew about Puig’s sexual assault allegations, which were swept under the rug, and were able to offload a liability in the process. Classy stuff.
The Dodgers-Reds trade from 2018 helped LA acquire stars the last few years.
“And prospects?!” Buddy, let us tell you about those prospects! Let’s start with the 2020 trade for Mookie Betts.
The Boston Red Sox agreed to a deal in principle to send Betts to the Dodgers, then expressed concerns over Brusdar Graterol’s medicals. He was supposed to go to Boston from Minnesota in what was going to be a three-team trade.
Instead, the Dodgers turned around, acquired Graterol from Minnesota themselves, and then presented a revised offer to the Red Sox, which included centerpiece Alex Verdugo, catcher Connor Wong, and a shortstop general manager Chaim Bloom so desired: Jeter Downs. Nailed it.
You might’ve wondered if surrendering Downs would’ve posed a problem down the road since Corey Seager was set to hit free agency after 2021, but then Andrew Friedman did the unthinkable this past July when he sent Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz to the Washington Nationals for Trea Turner and Max Scherzer. Filled the shortstop problem with another elite option for at least one more season.
Yup, those are the SAME Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray from that Reds trade in 2018, in case you thought there were others sporting the same funky names out there.
Though other players helped these deals get done, Downs and Gray were intrinsic to the finalization. And now LA has both Betts and Turner under contract for at least 2022, with many expecting Turner to land an extension (and, of course, Betts is signed through 2032).
For those worried that the Dodgers simply have too many roster issues to fill after the lockout in a limited amount of time, just remember how many of these kinds of deals Friedman has pulled off to make others possible.