Having two of the best starters in baseball is nice, but LA upgraded the middle of their rotation and added some other pieces in a three-team blockbuster. BtBS is splitting coverage of this trade into three separate articles. Read about the Braves' perspective here and the Marlins' perspective here.
*Editor's Note: Bronson Arroyo's inclusion was announced after this article was published.
|Dodgers Receive:||Dodgers Give Up:|
|Alex Wood (from Atlanta)||Hector Olivera (to Atlanta)|
|Mat Latos (from Miami)||Paco Rodriguez (to Atlanta)|
|Michael Morse (from Miami)||Zack Bird (to Atlanta)|
|Jim Johnson (from Atlanta)||Jeff Brigham (to Miami)|
|Luis Avalan (from Atlanta)||Victor Araujo (to Miami)|
|Jose Peraza (from Atlanta)||Kevin Guzman (to Miami)|
|Bronson Arroyo (from Atlanta)|
The Dodgers were rumored to be interested in nearly every strong starting pitcher available. With Brandon McCarthy and Hyun Jin Ryu going down with injuries, the starters behind the Kershaw / Greinke tandem looked rather light.
Enter Wednesday: the trading day to best all trading days. The Dodgers did not land an ‘Ace' but instead chose to go a different route, adding southpaw Alex Wood as the centerpiece of a three-team blockbuster deal in which the Dodgers transacted twelve players.
Wood is the highlight of the deal as his young arm has logged a total of only 300 major league innings. The Braves drafted Wood in the second round of the 2012 draft, and he quickly ascended through the organization making his major league debut in the middle of the 2013 season. Atlanta has a lengthy track record of drafting and developing successful pitchers; Wood is no exception.
This season, Wood has compiled two Wins Above Replacement, tossing 119 slightly above average innings (he has a 95 ERA-). Wood's strikeout rate is down from the mid-twenties to just a shade over 17 percent. He is slightly outperforming his 3.54 ERA, as his FIP currently sits at a decent 3.39.
Wood primarily relies on a 90 miles per hour sinker which he supplements with a curveball and changeup. When he was drafted by the Braves, he would often touch 95-96 MPH with his fastball, but supplement it with excellent location with the secondary offerings. It's worth mentioning that Wood has already had Tommy John Surgery, which contributes to some of the durability concerns, especially considering his unorthodox delivery.
Wood is a an excellent addition to the Dodgers rotation. It is surprising the team decided to exercise some financial restraint by adding a cost-controlled, young arm rather than making a larger splash by getting an older ‘proven Ace' like Hamels or Price. He will slide in nicely behind Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke and would presumably be ahead of Mat Latos who was also sent to LA in the deal.
Wood is arbitration eligible in 2017 and will be a free agent after the 2019 season. He is in his age 24 season and hopefully has his career ahead of him.
Los Angeles also received rental relief pitcher Jim Johnson from the Braves. Johnson has given up 12 runs in 48 innings so far in 2015 and has posted his best season by ERA- since 2008. Johnson will fit in nicely with the Dodgers ‘pen that is already fifth in fWAR and fourth in FIP. JJ does not have a strong strikeout to walk ratio but has learned to live with diminished stuff inevitable for a 32-year-old reliever.
Atlanta also sent to southern California Luis Avilan and Jose Peraza. Avilan is a league-average southpaw who so far this season has logged 37 innings of middle relief. He can throw multiple innings (as he did last weekend in an extra-innings Braves win) and can be effective against both right-handed and left-handed hitters. He is arbitration eligible next year but is cost controlled until 2019.
Jose Peraza is a 21-year-old middle infielder whose main asset is his speed (graded as a 70 by FanGraphs' Kiley McDaniel). He has an average hit tool but little-to-no power either in-game or outside a live game. Peraza has worked his way all the way up to the Braves triple-A team, but he is unlikely to sniff the big leagues this season except for a ‘cup of coffee' in September when the Dodgers are resting their stars for the playoffs. It should not be understated however that Baseball America has Peraza ranked 26th in their midseason rankings on account of his plus speed and excellent defense.
From Miami, the Dodgers took $15 million total for taking on Mat Latos and Michael Morse. Morse seems to be a clear salary dump, as he makes $7.5 million this year and $8.5 million in 2016. It will be interesting to see if the Dodgers actually keep him on the 25 man roster, as he would likely be deemed superfluous for a team that has depth and versatility in Scott Van Slyke and Justin Turner.
Latos is an interesting addition for Los Angeles. Since his debut in 2009, Latos has been traded three times and has played for the Padres, Reds, Marlins, and now Dodgers over the course of the past five years. Until this season, Latos had been an effective above average pitcher, but he is currently posting an ERA- of 119 (19 percent below league average). Latos' strand rate is a bit lower than his career average, but with an xFIP of 92, he has a chance to recover.
In exchange, Los Angeles is sending a trio of pitchers to Atlanta in Hector Olivera, Paco Rodriguez and Zack Bird and another trio to Miami in Jeff Brigham, Victor Araujo, and Kevin Guzman.
Third baseman Hector Olivera signed out of Cuba for $62.5 million last spring, though $28 million of that was in a bonus that has already been paid. The 30-year-old has been crushing the ball in the minors through a small sample 19 games. He's been in the PCL, so the numbers do need to be regressed a bit, but Olivera had been out with a hamstring injury and is just now starting to find his groove. It's unclear why Atlanta wants a 30-year-old with no proven MLB experience, but it's a win for the Dodgers to get out from under the rest of the contract, especially when adding immediate upgrades to their rotation.
In addition to Olivera, Atlanta will be receiving 24 year old reliever Paco Rodriguez, who has missed the last month of the season in order to remove "loose bodies" from his elbow. He is not expected to return until September at the earliest. Rodriguez ranked as the Dodgers number eight prospect after the 2012 season per Baseball America, and has contributed in the Dodgers bullpen since tossing over 50 innings in 2013.
Zack Bird is also heading to the Braves. Selected in the ninth round of the 2012 draft. Bird has been in the Dodgers top 25 prospects list per Baseball America. The righty starter is currently in high-A and has a long way to go before impacting the major league club. He was ranked 19th in the Dodgers system after the 2014 season. Bird has not been entirely effective, as he has a 4.75 career ERA in the low minors.
Miami will receive 2014 Dodgers draft pick Jeff Brigham. Brigham was selected in the fourth round of the draft. The 23-year-old started ten games in rookie ball last season then spent a short time in low-A ball before being promoted to high-A. Brigham is another Tommy John survivor who per Kiley McDaniel is likely to be a bullpen arm. He has a decent fastball that tops out at 97 MPH, and he's been expanding the use of his solid/average slider. John Manuel of Baseball America mentioned Brigham's fastball has excellent sink to it, which provides a significant number of ground balls.
Miami will also receive 25-year-old pitcher Victor Araujo. Araujo has never been a highly regarded prospect and has not started a game in the Dodgers system since 2013. He is 25 years old and has not progressed past high-A ball.
Another pitcher heading to Miami is 20-year-old Kevin Guzman. The right-handed Venezuelan was promoted to A-ball to start 2015, where he has posted a 3.90 ERA and 3.79 FIP. Like Araujo, Guzman has never been a top-30 prospect in the Dodgers system and has a limited ceiling. On the plus side, he is only 20 years old with plenty of time to blossom in the Marlins system.
All in all, this seems like a pretty decent deal for the Dodgers. They did not have to give up any of their top positional prospects despite hitting being more of a premium than pitching. The myriad of pitchers LA traded away were not at the top of their prospect list (how they improved this much without giving up Julio Urias is a credit to the front office) They also divested an expensive corner infielder in Hector Olivera. The team picked up some cost-controlled arms AND a top-30 prospect in Peraza at the expense of non-prospect pitchers, an overpriced / over 30 third baseman for what really amounts to $45 million.
Everyone wondered what Andrew Friedman would do with a budget the size of Montana, but this is a pretty Rays-tastic move for the Dodgers from a personnel standpoint, and they did not end up having to eat much dead salary beyond Morse.
Editor's Note: Paco Rodriguez no longer had prospect status past 2012 since he logged 54 innings in 2013. A previous edition alluded to Rodriguez falling off the list due to performance as a prospect.