Thanks to a tip from Talking Chop last evening, I heard about the Dodgers/Braves swap well before it was announced, but I wanted to sleep on this one before diving in. Wilson Betemit, a player capable of handling most of the infield duties himself, was traded to the Dodgers in exchange for Proven CloserTM Danys Baez and 23-year old Willy Aybar.
The deal makes a great deal of sense for both sides: The Dodgers have realized that they have a deep bullpen, and that Baez still had value on the trade market. They packaged Baez -- who they were going to lose at the end of the year so he could rack up gaudy save totals elsewhere -- along with someone who might turn out to be Betemit-Lite in exchange for the guy who they know can help them solve their third base problems this year and in the future. Danys Baez is not really a quality reliever -- his lineup-adjusted Win Expectation above Replacement (WXRL) is negative, at -0.23 -- but he's certainly better than some of the dredge Atlanta has ground through this season, and he's a tad more stable than Bob Wickman, who the Braves acquired earlier this month.
As for Aybar and Betemit, let's have some fun with tables and positionally-adjusted Net Runs Above Average:
I included Cesar Izturis' season to show what Wilson Betemit would be replacing in the Dodger lineup. As you can see, Wilson Betemit is an improvement over Izturis of roughly +38 runs above average over the course of 150 games; with 59 games remaining on the season, that difference is cut down to about +13 runs above average, which is still a pretty good chunk of production. Willy Aybar also would have been an improvement over Izturis, but Betemit is probably the better player in the long run anyways.
Aybar should improve with more consistent playing time in Atlanta; considering Betemit has appeared in 83 games in the utility/starting role for Atlanta as opposed to the 43 games Aybar played in LA, he'll get what he needs to thrive. Even with the way he handled major league pitching in his 2005 debut (.326/.448/.453) Aybar most likely could have used some more seasoning in Triple-A in order to let him play everyday.
PECOTA sees Willy Aybar hitting .272/.346/.422 (.268 Eqa) in his age 27 season in 2010; PECOTA projected a line resembling that for Betemit at age 24 this year (.275/.339/.432, .262 EqA) but sees Betemit peaking around .286/.355/.460 at age 27. It seems as if a lot of the differences between the two will be decided by their defensive prowess, but the bats are very similar, even if Betemit is more polished than Aybar at this point.
The Braves get themselves a potential Betemit clone who is a year younger, along with a reliever who can help them stay in the race in 2006 by helping to stabilize a beleaguered bullpen. The Dodgers get themselves a player coming into his own who can start at third base immediately and play shortstop if necessary. A solid deal for both sides, although I do question Schuerholz's desire to trade Betemit away in a Baez deal when there had to be better offers out there. I could be wrong though, so I won't make too much of a fuss.