- The Dodgers didn't end up with Brian Dozier, but will their move to acquire Logan Forsythe from the Rays pay off instead? And did Tampa Bay get enough back?
This story originally appeared on FoxSports.com.
As always with trades, we’ll see which teams evaluated best.
Should the Dodgers have paid the extra price for second baseman Brian Dozier? Will righthander Jose De Leon give the Rays enough of a return for second baseman Logan Forsythe? Did the Twins blow it by asking too much from the Dodgers for Dozier?
None of those answers was clear Monday night in the immediate aftermath of the Dodgers’ acquisition of Forsythe for De Leon. But starting at the non-waiver deadline, the next opportunity for the Twins to trade Dozier, we will start to learn more.
The Dodgers pivoted to Forsythe only after reaching an impasse in their talks with the Twins on Dozier. De Leon was part of both deals. But the Rays accepted De Leon straight up while the Twins wanted additional prospects—asking, in the estimation of the Dodgers, for too much.
Well, Dozier hit 42 homers to Forsythe’s 20 last season and finished with an .886 OPS to Forsythe’s .778. The Dodgers, though, didn’t believe that the difference in the players justified the difference in price. A rival executive with no stake in the discussions even said that Forsythe was “remarkably similar” to Dozier, offering less power but more contact.
Dozier’s edge in career OPS+—that is, OPS adjusted for league and park, with the average set to 100—is just 108 to 103. Forsythe holds the advantage in defensive runs saved at second base over the past four seasons, and also has played first, third and even the outfield. Both players are under club control for two more seasons at virtually identical, below-market rates.
Consider as well the opinion expressed on Twitter by former major league catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was briefly a teammate of Forsythe’s at the end of the 2015 season:
Don't care about numbers/sabermetrics. The way Forsythe plays the game, his abilities, his leadership and the ultimate pro he is...— Jp Arencibia (@jparencibia9) January 24, 2017
Dodgers just got a star... one of the most underrated players in the game.— Jp Arencibia (@jparencibia9) January 24, 2017
That’s high praise, but others would say that Dozier shares many of the same intangible qualities, not to mention 40-homer power—if only last season.
One question is whether the Twins can get the equivalent of De Leon-plus for Dozier at the deadline or even next off-season, when his club control will be down to one year.
Another question is whether they were right to pass on De Leon to begin with.
De Leon, 24, had a 33% strikeout rate at Triple A last season, the highest by any Triple A pitcher with 15 starts since 2012. But he did not pitch more than 114 1/3 innings in any of his first four professional seasons, so his durability remains uncertain.
A second rival executive with no stake in the discussions viewed De Leon as no more than a No. 4 starter. The Rays, though, view him as a top starting-pitching prospect, close to major league ready, pointing to his sterling performances at Double A and Triple A. Club officials even compare him to their own righthander, Jake Odorizzi—“not overpowering but can pitch with his fastball/changeup combination,” one team exec said. “Swing-and-miss stuff.”
The Rays, who routinely churn their roster in their endless quest to find younger, more affordable talent, now must figure out second base. Daniel Robertson, Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin are the internal options, and free agents such as Stephen Drew, Dustin Ackley and Chase Utley remain available.
How will it all play out? Only time will tell.
The Rays, remember, acquired Robertson from the Athletics in Jan. 2015, along with John Jaso and minor league outfielder Boog Powell, for infielders Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar. Six good years from Robertson would make that deal worthwhile. Six good ones from De Leon would justify the sacrifice of Forsythe.
We’ll see which teams evaluated best. We always do.