Over recent years the Los Angeles Dodgers rebuffed trade offers for their top prospects, which in turn led to the club restocking their farm system with blue chip talent. However, that changed this winter with Los Angeles trading Jose De Leon to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Logan Forsythe.
Prior to the Jan. 23 deal, De Leon’s named was included in trade speculation while the Dodgers were connected to Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. Although the Twins were open to receiving De Leon for their All-Star, Minnesota reportedly sought additional top prospects in the package.
After trade talks reportedly reached an impasse, the Dodgers turned their focus elsewhere and quickly assembled a one-for-one swap to fill their need at second base.
The small shift from their previous philosophy was a byproduct of having pitching depth to trade from, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman explained, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“We feel we have a tremendous amount of depth on the prospect pitching side and it allowed us to address our most acute need.”
Although the Dodgers were willing to send De Leon to Tampa Bay and include him in a potential trade for Dozier, fellow right-handed pitching prospects Yadier Alvarez and Walker Buehler were said to be off-limits.
De Leon was the Dodgers’ 24th-round selection in the 2013 Draft. He was named the organization’s No. 3 prospect for the 2017 season by Baseball America prior to the trade.
The 24-year-old battled ankle and arm injuries early last season, then went 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 86.1 innings pitched in 16 starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City. De Leon was went 2-0 in four starts with the Dodgers, but had a 6.35 ERA, 6.97 FIP, 1.53 WHIP and averaged nearly four walks per nine innings.
Although there’s some dissension on what he ultimately projects to become, Rays general manager Erik Neander felt his club could not pass on the opportunity to acquire a pitcher of De Leon’s caliber.
From the Dodgers’ perspective, they boast organizational pitching depth in Alvarez, Buehler, Chase De Jong, Jordan Sheffield and Brock Stewart, among others.