Revisiting Dodgers' Matt Beaty trade steal after latest roster shuffle

San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers
San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

Last March, the Dodgers cleared up a 40-man roster logjam by offering one of their up-and-down Quad-A outfielders, Matt Beaty, to the San Diego Padres.

He was exactly what the Pads needed, right? A World Champion fourth outfielder with bonafides? Someone with versatility who could level up every once in a while, potentially while facing his former team?

Don't worry, San Diego. It won't cost much. Just fork over someone CBS Sports referred to as a "two-way player" at the time of the deal, and the Dodgers will shake hands and move along.

Except ... the thing is ... the Dodgers saw potential that the Pads didn't see in right-handed pitcher River Ryan. Either that, or the Padres improperly evaluated (or improperly valued) Beaty. Whatever the reasoning, the Dodgers walked away with a fast-rising pitching prospect who now ranks 12th on MLB Pipeline's system evaluation, and Beaty hit .093 in 20 games with the '22 Padres and just showed up on the Kansas City Royals for the second time this season.

Former Dodgers OF Matt Beaty with Royals now, River Ryan sitting pretty in LA's farm

Beaty remains a beloved Dodger, as evidenced by the disbelieving California crowd gathered around his recent sideline signing at Triple-A Omaha. And for good reason! He hit .270 with a .363 OBP in 234 plate appearances with the 2021 Dodgers, good for a 107 OPS+ (his defense docked his WAR to just 0.1). He won a ring with the drought-breaking squad. He could certainly swing it by the end of his tenure in LA.

But, when confronted with two men for one roster spot before the 2022 campaign, the Dodgers DFA'd Beaty and banked on being able to replace his production. They were ready to release him, if it came to that. Instead, the Padres swooped in and saved them, offering Ryan, who had yet to make his pro debut.

In the Dodgers' system? (Pfffff) Head explodes. Last year, Ryan struck out 70 in 47.2 innings between Low- and High-A, posting a 2.45 ERA. This season, he's been a key member of the hardest-throwing rotation in professional baseball with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, posting a 3.05 ERA in 11 appearances.

Whether Ryan is a starter or reliever is a question for another day. All that matters is the Dodgers took a "two-way prospect" and turned him into a near-top-10 prospect, all in exchange for Beaty, someone they were willing to lose for nothing. Since his release from San Diego, the ex-Dodger has been a Royal at camp in 2023, briefly a Giant in the bigs (five at-bats, one hit), and a Royal again now, looking for his next taste of big-league ball.

Perhaps he and Ryan will arrive on the same day.