Admittedly, I’m not one of those people who like to draw up endless hypothetical trades guessing which players could end up making a club better. It’s hard to estimate what’s going on inside the minds of most general managers, and it’s difficult to dig deep enough into an opposition’s farm system to decipher the needs of a particular organization. Nevertheless, I’m good for one or two imaginary deals per season, as I believe they can be a good tools for determining players’ worth and values.
With everything that’s happened to the Dodgers already this winter in the management and coaching departments, there’s no question that boss Andrew Friedman is up to his ears with matters regarding his personnel department. There have been rumors that the folks in the front office will assume former GM Farhan Zaidi’s duties by committee, which could prospectively lead to Los Angeles not making any huge splashes in terms of trades this winter. However, there will be some roster moves, as there are more than a handful of players who have departed because of free agency.
So, in order to lend Friedman a hand in getting the trade brainstorming started this winter, I have come up with my first fictitious proposal.
There will always be criticism, even in the most carefully thought out deals by the most sensible front office executives. Many will believe they are lopsided, but again, it all has to do with what the teams need to succeed or grow, and the true value of a player isn’t always the bottom line of what’s actually bartered. Still, the Dodgers may be just a little short on this deal, but it could be a decent starting point.
Right off the top, there are probably a ton of Dodgers fans saying that Los Angeles would be giving away too much. But, from the Pittsburgh perspective, Pirates fans are likely to think that they’re getting way too little. It may look like I’m skimming a bit here, but I think it’s important to remember that Cervelli is entering the final year of his contract and that he could be moved at some point next year anyway, as the Pirates are notorious for trading such players, especially if they’re out of the playoff picture close to the trade deadlines.
From the Los Angeles perspective, the Dodgers get a much-needed bullpen arm, which is also effective as a setup man or a closer, plus a top-notch catcher who can hold the organization over until either Will Smith or Keibert Ruiz is ready to handle the primary duties behind the plate.
The 32-year-old Cervelli hammered double-digit home runs for the first time in his career last season, but more importantly, his .378 OBP is a significant improvement over the .349 mark of Yasmani Grandal. The right-handed hitting Venezuela native has been paving the way for Elias Diaz, who hit .286 with 10 homers in 82 games last season.
Vazquez made his first-ever All-Star squad in 2018, posting 37 saves, a 2.43 FIP, and an 11.4 K/9 after throwing an even 70 innings over 70 appearances. Vazquez, 27, is entering the second year of a four-year/$22.5 million deal, and he’ll earn $4,5 million in 2019, which includes a partial payment of his signing bonus.
With the 28-year-old, left-handed hitting Muncy, the Pirates receive a huge upgrade to their power department. The Bucs had just two players on their roster—Starling Marte (20) and Gregory Polanco (23)—who hit more than 20 long balls in 2018. Muncy slammed 35 regular-season bombs for the Dodgers last season.
White, a 23-year-old, right handed Santa Clara product, has seen a spike in his fastball velocity in recent years. He’s now sitting in the 93-97 range, but perhaps more importantly, has plenty of natural sink. The 2016 second-round pick’s best offering, though, is a power slider with a huge amount of late bite. He’s currently ranked as the seventh best prospect in the Los Angeles system, profiling as either a quality starter or a reliable back-end reliever.
Wong, 22, was selected in the third round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Houston. For High-A Rancho last year, he hit .269/.350/.480 with 20 doubles, 19 long balls and 60 RBI. Wong’s currently buried on the Los Angeles depth chart below Austin Barnes, Smith and Ruiz.
Anderson is a 25-year-old, righty swing man who threw a combined 121 innings over 32 appearances—17 of which were starts—for Rancho and Double-A Tulsa last season. He tallied a 10.0 K/9 with a 3.99 ERA in his fourth full year with the organization.
As much as I wanted to include an outfielder from the Los Angeles system, the Pirates are plentifully stocked, and I just can’t see anybody from the Dodgers drawing interest, including Alex Verdugo or Yasiel Puig. Instead, Muncy became my centerpiece, based on the assumption that his current value is at an all-time high.
Of course, Grandal may surprise everybody and accpet the $17.4 million qualifying offer that was extended to him by the Dodgers last week. Still, it doesn’t help the Los Angeles bullpen, which needs more than one reliable addition in a huge kind of way.