The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent MLB history back at the deadline in 2021, trading two premier prospects in Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz for the pair of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.
Scherzer spent half a season in LA, then complained about the team being safe with his workload down the stretch and blamed that for his mediocre pitching and dead arm in the playoffs. Turner lasted a year and a half with the Dodgers and painfully was not re-signed, as the Dodgers planned to hand shortstop over to Gavin Lux, who then tore his ACL in spring training.
Gray and Ruiz — who were top-100 prospects at the time — have been a work in progress in Washington. Gray has been the worse of the two, with a 5.10 ERA in 42 starts for the Nationals. It is always hard for someone to follow up Scherzer in the pitching staff, and the former Dodgers prospect admitted that was partly to blame for his struggles in Washington.
It is unfortunate to see a young player with potential like Gray psych himself out because of a reason like this, but it at least looks like the right-handed pitcher has turned some kind of corner. Gray continued:
"'The weight of the trade is off me, I think,' Gray said toward the end of spring training. 'The Dodgers have moved on. Max is about to be in his second year with the Mets. Trea left and signed with the Phillies this winter. That helped put everything behind me, you know?'"- Josiah Gray
Josiah Gray isn't the first former Dodgers prospect to struggle after being traded
The Los Angeles Dodgers consistently have one of the best farm systems in baseball, full of prospects that are lauded. The team also possesses the ability to choose which prospects to keep and which to ship off, as there are several examples of top prospects who never amounted to anything after they were traded.
Jeter Downs — who was traded with Gray to the Dodgers, then blossomed into a top-100 prospect — was the key prospect in the Boston Red Sox trade involving Mookie Betts. Downs never took off with the Red Sox and eventually was DFA'd by Boston before the 2023 season.
Yusniel Diaz — who was the main prospect in the Manny Machado trade and was a top-100 prospect — has exactly one big-league at-bat to his name four full years after being traded. Fittingly, Diaz is back with the Dodgers in 2023, as he currently plays for Double-A Tulsa.
Willie Calhoun never worked for the Texas Rangers after he was traded for Yu Darvish. Jose De Leon never worked for the Tampa Bay Rays after he was traded for Logan Forsythe. Sure, there are examples such as Yordan Alvarez and Oneil Cruz that kill this narrative, but neither of those players were top prospects when they were traded.
Josiah Gray's comments prove that there is added pressure when you are traded as a top prospect from a decorated team like the Los Angeles Dodgers. Perhaps that is why the team has such a great track record with trading prospects.