Whenever the opportunity to acquire two generational players in one trade comes along, you do it 10 times out of 10. When it only costs you your top two prospects -- both of whom were, at the time, blocked by superior talent, you do that 15 times out of 10.
That's what happened when the Los Angeles Dodgers swapped pitching prospect Josiah Gray and catching prospect Keibert Ruiz for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the 2021 deadline, leading everyone to believe LA was unbeatable.
Unfortunately, that ended up being the Braves' magical year. Scherzer experienced "dead arm" when he was needed most, and then cashed out for a $130 million contract with the Mets. Turner remained in Los Angeles for another year, but the Dodgers passed on him as the Phillies jumped on a $300 million offer to sign him away.
Cut to 2023 and the Dodgers are just fine, but they could be better, especially in the pitching department. The loss of Ruiz couldn't be any less relevant, but shipping out Gray? Captain Hindsight reporting for duty! The Dodgers might be regretting this one right about now.
Gray was named an All-Star in 2023. He rebounded tremendously after a rough rookie campaign in 2022. His walks still remain an issue, but he's surrendering fewer homers and logging more innings per start. Across 18 outings, he's pitched 100.1 innings and owns a 3.41 ERA.
Dodgers possibly regretting trading Josiah Gray right about now?
As for the Dodgers? They lost Walker Buehler in the middle of the 2022 season and he may not return this year. Dustin May is undergoing his second major elbow surgery since 2021. Tony Gonsolin has continuously failed to take the next step. Noah Syndergaard has been a disaster and hasn't pitched in a month. Both Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw have landed on the injured list this season.
The Dodgers desperately need starting pitching right now. Their trade deadline plans have been completely altered since their short-term additions on the position player end have been cruising, while the pitching has been decimated in so many ways.
On the flip side, however, the Dodgers had a superior rotation in 2022 and didn't need Gray. They had well thought out plans to keep the train rolling in 2023. Things just fell by the wayside in spectacular fashion.
And as for Gray's other metrics? His 4.79 FIP and 1.44 WHIP still provide reason for concern. His advanced stats are mostly all in the blue (per Baseball Savant) with the exception of average exit velocity, hard hit percentage and whiff percentage. And don't forget, Gray was essentially acquired for free in the 2018 blockbuster with the Cincinnati Reds. Los Angeles got rid of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp and freed up money and used Gray and fellow top prospect Jeter Downs to acquire Scherzer, Turner and Mookie Betts.
Additionally, some might say the future prospects of Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone, Emmet Sheehan and Landon Knack might outweigh Gray's outlook.
So while it might not all seem ideal at this very moment. it's hard to argue this was a regrettable move at the time when the Dodgers literally turned the baseball world upside.