In the middle of an Ambien-driven offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers awakened to make a trade on Thursday, sending three players to two teams and acquiring a pair of players themselves. The Dodgers received Scott Alexander and Jake Peter, while Luis Avilan was shipped off the Chicago White Sox, and Trevor Oaks and Erick Mejia went to the Kansas City Royals.
Avilan, who was acquired in the Jim Johnson trade, had pitched well for the Dodgers the last two and a half seasons. In 2017, he accumulated a 0.7 WAR (FanGraphs) in just 46 innings, though a bum shoulder kept him off the postseason roster.
Oaks, a local boy selected in the seventh round of the 2014 Draft, posted a 3.27 ERA in 80 Minor League games, with a 2.15 groundball/flyball ratio. Mejia was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Joe Wieland in January 2016. He stole 52 bases over the last two seasons.
Alexander made his MLB debut in 2015 but didn’t stick until last season. He posted a 78.1 percent groundball rate and contributed 1.1 WAR in 69 innings.
Peter spent last year between Double-A and Triple-A in the White Sox system. After hitting 11 homers in his first three pro seasons, he hit 13 in 2017 and had a .857 on-base plus slugging percentage in 45 Triple-A games.
Why did the Dodgers make the trade? Well, they didn’t necessarily get younger, but they did get more control. Avilan was set to hit free agency after the 2019 season, while Alexander will only be arbitration eligible at that point.
Alexander also has two options left, while Avilan has none. Meanwhile, Peter gives the Dodgers a versatile left-handed bat off the bench, something the club was missing last season. He primarily plays second base, but has seen time at third and in the outfield corners.
There’s some belief Peter’s offensive progression wasn’t a fluke and he could provide some power.
While Oaks and Mejia were nice parts of a robust farm system, neither had a clear path to the Majors. Oaks could have been tried in the bullpen, but he likely wouldn’t stick in the rotation. Mejia likely will peak as a utility guy and has no power to speak of, but could offer the Royals some speed and defense up the middle.
Overall, while it wasn’t the huge splash Dodger fans have been hoping for, it’s a trade that makes the team better both now and in the near future. The “nerds” in the front office have done it again.
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