While none of the participating teams have yet to officially announce the details of their impending deals, it’s certainly safe to say that front office boss Andrew Friedman will have shaken up the roster of the Dodgers once all the formalities are signed and sealed.
In case you missed the key moves, the initial trade with the Red Sox and the Twins appears to have the most validity, at least at the time of this publication. In summary, gone are outfielder Alex Verdugo and swing man Kenta Maeda. Heading to Los Angeles are outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price. Additionally, there is a whole bunch of money coming to the Dodgers from Boston in terms of salary relief.
Betts will earn $27 million this year and can become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 season. Price has three years and $96 million remaining on his contract.
In the trade that emerged later Tuesday evening, the news that initially broke indicated that outfielder Joc Pederson and outfield prospect Andy Pages were dealt to the Angels in exchange for switch-hitting infielder Luis Rengifo.
However, further developments on Wednesday morning revealed that there are more moving parts involved, specifically righty swing man Ross Stripling being sent to Anaheim with a prospect coming back to Los Angeles.
From an organizational standpoint, perhaps one of the most important parts of the trades are that the departures of Pederson and Stripling suggest the Dodgers are sitting below the 2020 Luxury Tax Threshold, at least for now. Rough calculations at the moment have Los Angeles at about a $200 million payroll, approximately $8 million under the cap.
Nevertheless, the most substance of the trades is the amount of talent that Betts brings to the table. Perhaps Jon Heyman was askew with his initial assessment of the true team in Los Angeles, but the 27-year-old Betts indeed compliments an offensive attack that stands atop all the clubs in the National League.
Who the third mystery player is, we still have no idea.
Regardless, Betts will presumably hit leadoff for the Dodgers, soothing the conscience of the many fans who felt that Pederson was out of his element in the top spot. Over the course of his six-year major league career, Betts hit leadoff 563 times, while batting second 79 times, third 54 times and cleanup 56 times. Depending on the metrics of his production, Betts could be moved around a bit, especially if 22-year-old Gavin Lux ultimately proves to be a legit leadoff option as he increases his ability to get on base.
Last year, Betts OPS’d an impressive .915, but that number was still significantly shy of the 1.078 mark he registered during his MVP year in 2018. Betts will play everday, as splits are not an issue. In 2768 career PA against right-handed pitching, he has slashed .300/.371/.516. Over 861 lifetime PA against southpaws, he has hit .304/.384/.531.
The outfield should set up with reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger in center, A.J. Pollock in left and Betts in right. With Verdugo’s departure, lefty-hitting Matt Beaty is almost assured a roster spot, as he provides legitimate cover to Pollock in left. Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and perhaps even DJ Peters supply additional depth.
Rengifo provides depth at shortstop and second base from both sides of the plate on offense, but being that he has two options remaining on his contract, he could theoretically begin his 2020 campaign at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
If you missed Andy’s column on Monday, she outlined how Price would conceivably fit into the Dodgers’ rotation. With the exoduses of Maeda and Stripling, there are certainly less moving parts on the pitching staff. The team may end up featuring a lefty-dominant rotation with Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and Price as the headliners. Another lefty, 29-year-old Alex Wood, could join the aforementioned crew if he stays healthy and outperforms fellow veteran Jimmy Nelson during the 2020 Cactus League season.
Young right-hander Dustin May is another option for an already impressive starting front-five.
Either way, the choices undoubtedly place the Los Angeles rotation among the best in the National League.
Once we find out the final details on the prospect coming back to the Dodgers from Anaheim, we’ll take a closer look at how the Los Angeles farm was affected by this week’s deals.