As the dust settles from what felt like a month-long saga that ends with the Dodgers trading for Mookie Betts and David Price, we can maybe, finally, take stock of what has happened in the world of Dodger baseball.
What is clear is that this trade is going to have lasting ramifications all over the baseball world, and not just in Los Angeles. Arguably, the second-best player in baseball was traded from the only team he knew due to “money constraints.” Betts did not want to be traded from Boston, but he did want to test free agency, which as a top tier player who has waited his whole career, is exceptionally within his rights to do. While I won’t get into Boston’s reasons for trading him, there were interviews suggesting that the 27-year-old outfielder is unhappy with the way it all shook out.
As of this writing, the trade is still not official, so we have yet to hear from Betts himself. While he’s going to miss Boston, I have no doubts he will be the consummate professional and not let that hinder his play for the Dodgers. In fact, it might even give him some extra incentive to show the Sox what they are missing. I’m sure the fact that he was traded to a team with an excellent shot at returning to the World Series helps. The Dodgers will also have a full season of wooing him to remain with them in Southern California.
As far as Price is concerned, there is legitimate worry about the veteran’s health and production. The Dodgers are picking up half of his three-year, $96 million contract, so roughly $16 million a season. Last season, he left-hander went 7-5 with a 4.38 ERA over 107.1 innings of work. He had a 4.00 strikeouts to walk ratio and 1.314 WHIP. But the 34 year old has spent his whole career in the American League, most of it in the AL East. A change of coast, league, and time with the Dodgers’ excellent pitching staff could do him a world of good. And, the best news is, he doesn’t need to be the number one or two pitcher on the staff. He can settle in the third or fourth slot with much less pressure. While his overall playoff resume isn’t the best, in the 2018 World Series, when the Sox needed Price to live up to his contract, he did exceedingly well.
The Dodgers ended up getting Brusdar Graterol instead of having the Minnesota Twins trade him to Boston as part of the first proposed three-way trade. The young righty was deemed not a big enough trade piece by the Red Sox, so now he will be with the Dodgers in exchange for Kenta Maeda. It remains to be seen what exactly his role with the team will be, but is he ends up being a key bullpen piece come October, nothing would be better.
As far as the trade that didn’t happen, I can’t help but feel terrible for Joc Pederson. Yes, I understand it’s a business and trades come with the territory. But, being told through the media and twitter that you are going to be traded, and then have the trade ultimately fall through to return to the team that’s trying to trade you has to be incredibly awkward at best, potentially causing some tensions and anger at worst. Ross Stripling for his part seemed delighted at the thought of staying with L.A., composing then quickly deleting a tweet with a gif of him celebrating.
Regardless of how these players feel, though, the Dodgers still need to clear two spots on the 40-man roster for their new, revamped lineup. There are rumors that Pederson could still be on the move, as the Dodgers are still seemingly open to trading him. The Dodgers definitely have a surplus in the outfield, and Joc is probably at the point where he would like to be more than just a platoon player.
What we know now, is that Andrew Friedman was true to his word. There has been some definite roster changes, and they went out and got the best position player available—the best, overall position player not named Mike Trout. Friedman has set this team up to be a true, offensive juggernaut. Cases can be made for improvements in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and they can be addressed down the line. But this team that was already really good is exceedingly good and heads above the rest of the National League.
The loses of Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs may hurt down the line. But it’s a hell of an upside at the moment. The Dodgers have two of the top five outfielders in all of baseball roaming out there together. Two of the best five in all of baseball. Friedman somehow acquired Betts and still has the Dodgers top two prospects in place alongside a heavily-stocked farm system. To me, it is worth it. This team is built to win a World Series now. Let’s get the season started.