Just before the non-waiver trade deadline came and passed on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers made another move to shore up their offense.
After trying to acquire him for the last few seasons, the Dodgers finally got their man in Brian Dozier. They sent Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for the veteran second baseman.
Dozier established himself as one of the premier second basemen in baseball in 2016 after clubbing 42 home runs for the Twins. He followed that up with a 34 homer campaign in 2017.
However, this year, the power hasn’t quite been at the same level, as he’s hit 16 long balls in 102 games.
The veteran infielder has seen a decline in his offense over the last two seasons, culminating in a 91 wRC+ this season, thanks in large part to a .252 BABIP which has led to a .224 batting average. He’s also struggled with the glove, posting a -6 DRS in 906.1 innings.
However, the Dodgers have faith that the 31-year-old will turn things around in the second half. In the last two seasons, Dozier has posted excellent numbers after the All-Star break, with a wRC+ of 155 in 2016 and 158 in 2017. He’ll need a strong final two months to avoid posting his first sub-100 wRC+ since 2013.
As for what the Dodgers gave up in the trade, the cost wasn’t very high. Forsythe was the only Major Leaguer heading to the Twin Cities and his value wasn’t at its highest.
While he was productive against left-handed pitching in 2017, Forsythe’s offensive value completely disappeared this season. His 55 wRC+ is the 10th-worst mark in the Majors of any batter with at least 200 plate appearances.
While he still offers value with the glove at both second and third base, the emergence of Max Muncy and acquisition of Manny Machado limited Forsythe’s versatility. The fact that the Dodgers were able to trade him, despite his struggles, is a testament to the abilities of this collective front office.
Along with Forsythe, the Dodgers dealt a pair of Minor Leaguers with fringy prospect statuses and a low likelihood of helping the Major League club in Raley and Smeltzer.
Raley was drafted in the seventh round in 2016 and quickly ascended through the system. After dominating rookie ball in his debut, the infielder/outfielder cooled off in Low-A Great Lakes with a .689 on-base plus slugging percentage.
But, over the last two seasons, he’s been a productive hitter with both High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. This year, Raley batted .275/.345/.477 with 17 home runs (good for ninth in the Texas League) in 93 games before being dealt.
Raley’s future role is likely that of a bench bat. He plays left and right field, as well as first base, and will have to hit his way to the Major Leagues. His production hasn’t been exceptional and, while his power is coming around, he’s not getting on base a ton for a 23-year-old in the upper Minors. Barring a breakout, he’s probably a part-time player.
Smeltzer is one of the better stories in the Minors. After being diagnosed with cancer at 9 years old, he went into remission in 2012 and was selected by the Dodgers in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft.
The left-hander worked out of the bullpen in his debut, then moved to the rotation in 2017 which he split between Great Lakes and Rancho. He broke camp with the Drillers this season and has been solid, posting a 4.73 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 19 walks in 83.2 innings.
He’s a funky, kitchen-sink type that probably doesn’t stick in the rotation at the Major League level. However, thanks to his low arm slot, he may be able to get a cup of coffee as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.
Overall, the Dodgers did well to upgrade at second base without having to give up much in the way of prospects. There’s a chance Dozier doesn’t have a resurgent second half and produces below average offense for the rest of the year.
But, the risk is definitely worth the reward in this case. Another good trade deadline pickup from the Dodgers.
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