With the 2019 MLB trade deadline just a few, short weeks away, fans of the Dodgers shouldn’t be surprised when one or more of the team’s valued prospects is moved in a deal, most likely to upgrade a bullpen that’s been heavily criticized for most of the season.
Aside from everyday outfielder Alex Verdugo, there have been four rookies who have impacted the club in some shape or form—Will Smith, Matt Beaty, Kyle Garlick and Edwin Rios. Obviously, Verdugo is untouchable. And, for all intents and purposes, Smith won’t be dealt anytime soon because he’s the most talented catcher in the system who’s major league ready under Austin Barnes and Russell Martin.
However, it will not be surprising at all if one or more of the remaining three rookies are traded. Rios is a lot like Beaty in many ways, besides having a little more power and a lot less speed. Both can play the corner infield positions, and Rios has even played a little left field in what could be an attempt by management to showcase his versatility. Consequently, being that Beaty had the longer look, Rios could be the first to be moved, although it mainly depends on the requests of the suitors around the league.
While it seem like Rios has been in the system forever, he’s just 25 years old and is still a prospect by most standards around the MLB.
Primarily a first baseman in college, Rios spent three years at FIU, leading the Panthers to a Conference USA title during his third and final season in 2015. During that campaign, he hit .314 while leading the team with 18 home runs and 69 RBI.
Drafted by the Dodgers in the sixth round of the draft later that year, Rios was quickly ushered to the Arizona Rookie League, but eventually ended up in Ogden to finish the season in the Pioneer League, where he hit .235/.307/.471 with three long balls for the Raptors over 20 games.
Starting the 2016 season with the Low-A Great Lakes Loons, Rios slashed .252/.305/.487 with six home runs in 33 games, and quickly earned a promotion to High-A Rancho Cucamonga where he batted a monstrous .367/.394/.712 with 16 homers over 42 games in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League. He earned yet another promotion to Double-A Tulsa to close out the year, hitting .254/.304/.434 with five home runs in his final 33 games.
After another very productive campaign in 2017, he spent the earlier portion of 2018 on the disabled list, but still managed to hit .304/.355/.482 with 25 doubles, 10 long balls and 55 RBI over 88 games for Triple-A OKC.
Surprisingly, Rios was recalled to the big league roster in June and made eight appearances with the club before being optioned this week. He hit .267 (4-for-15) with one double, one triple and one RBI, recording his first career hit and RBI in his first MLB start against Colorado on June 29.
It’s tough to say exactly who could be interested in the left-handed hitting slugger, but there may be a possibility he could be packaged with another prospect if the return is right. In the same breath, front-office boss Andrew Friedman has always been a bit hesitant to sacrifice a decent farmhand for a reliever, so it should be interesting to see what the Dodgers decide to do at this year’s deadline.
But, while Friedman has always lived by the philosophy of building a bullpen from within or partaking in one of his infamous reclamation projects, 2019 could finally be the year when he offers up a few of the organization’s best resources for a proven arm that can make a positive, immediate impact on the big league bullpen crew.