In what’s been a slow offseason across Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a trade last week that netted ground-ball specialist Scott Alexander from the Kansas City Royals, as part of a six-player, three-team trade that also included the Chicago White Sox.
The Dodgers additionally received utility man Jake Peter from the White Sox in the deal, while veteran relievers Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria now find themselves heading to the South Side. For the Royals to part ways with Alexander, it required Los Angeles yielding prospects Erick Mejia and Trevor Oaks.
Alexander will presumably replace 2017 midseason acquisition Tony Watson as the club’s go-to left-handed option out of the bullpen. The 28-year-old won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2020 and remains under team control for the next five seasons.
Alexander is coming off a strong year with the Royals in which he posted career-bests in ERA (2.48), FIP (3.23), strikeouts (59) and innings pitched (69). He recorded four saves and accumulated 2.2 WAR for his efforts, per Baseball-Reference’s calculations.
While the Santa Rosa, Calif., native enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017, ZiPS projections anticipate some regression this season, via Dan Szymborski of ESPN:
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Most noticeably, the model predicts Alexander’s ERA will increase by more than a full run in his debut season with the Dodgers. That’s despite transitioning to the National League and one of the Major’s most pitcher-friendly ballparks.
On the flip side, the projections foresee the southpaw setting a new career-high in innings pitched and strikeouts. Given the club’s usage of relief pitchers and presence of Austin Barnes and Yasmani Grandal — two of the better pitch framers in baseball — those hypothetical numbers seem more realistic.
All-in-all, ZiPS believes Alexander will accumulate more than a full win above replacement during the 2018 season. Needless to say, if that holds true, the Dodgers will be more than pleased with Alexander’s production.