• Trade Target Team Profile: L.A. Dodgers

    The Big Picture
    The Dodgers have a very loyal following. They attracted over 3 million fans every year from 1997-2010. Then there was an ugly divorce between owners and a multi-billion dollar sale of the team. New ownership is trying to put all of that in the rearview and make the playoffs for the first time since winning their division in 2009.

    The Dodgers were the hottest team in baseball out of the gates and were 17 games over .500 as recently as June 17. A late-June swoon – losers in eleven of their last twelve games – where injuries to key players certainly played a part, dropped them back to reality and they now trail the Giants in the NL West, with the Diamondbacks quickly gaining ground.


    Why They Will Trade With The Twins
    The Dodgers offense in June was downright ugly. They scored only 83 runs in June (including a six-game stretch in which they were shutout five times), the least in the Major Leagues. Their June OPS was .571. That’s not quite Buteran; but it is 40 points worse than Nick Punto during his worst Twins year! To add insult to injury (or maybe the other way around…), stud outfielder and clean-up hitter Andre Ethier went down with an oblique injury: One of the most fickle of all injuries. He could be out days or months.

    If they have to throw him on the disabled list, he’d join the likes of All-World CF Matt Kemp, starting 2B Mark Ellis, starting P Ted Lilly, set-up man Matt Guerrier and closer Javy Guerra. As you probably guessed, the Dodgers are actively working the phones, looking for help – not only in the middle of the order – but presumably at the back of the bullpen.

    Despite all of the injuries and off-the-field distractions, GM Ned Colletti has put together a collection of players that, when healthy, are arguably the most-talented group in the National League, if not Los Angeles and all of baseball.

    As the word gets out that the Dodgers are looking for “middle-of-the-order thumpers”, it would be wise for the Twins to make a courtesy call. You see, where the Dodgers need power the most (left field, first base and third base), just so happens to be the positions of the Twins three most-powerful hitters.

    I’m not going to suggest that the Dodgers can “afford” to take on Justin Morneau’s remaining salary of over $20m. I will, however, point out that the Dodgers current 1B combo of James Loney/Juan Rivera has a combined OPS of around .650. And their 2013 commitment to the two? Only Rivera’s $500,000 buyout. The Dodgers are in the market for a first baseman. Right now.

    LF Bobby Abreu isn’t nearly the player he used to be (when he was drilling line drives off Nick Blackburn’s face), yet he’s batting 3rd due to all the injuries. If I were the Dodgers, I would feel much better using the 38-year old’s bat in a pinch-hitting role. When Kemp (batting 3rd/RH) and Either (4th/LH) come back, having a RH/LF “masher” batting 5th would be the ideal situation. The Twins also have one of them – signed to a very reasonable contract – in Josh Willingham.

    Moving onto the final (and probably most controversial) position: Third base. Juan Uribe is listed as 33 years old. Does anyone actually believe that? If you’re fat and 33, fine. But when you’re fat and Uribe’s age (whatever that actually is… 36? 37?), that’s not a good sign. Regardless, Uribe, when healthy in 2012, is hitting .205 with an OBP of .248 and an OPS of .535. Sheesh, up until a month ago, I thought the Twins 3B situation was bad.

    Might the Twins listen if the Dodgers called about Trevor Plouffe? His value over the last few weeks is the highest it’s ever been (and probably the highest it ever will be). Is this power we've seen over the hot streak sustainable? He did cool off a little, but hit two home runs again today. What do the Dodgers think? How much could you get for him, who has five more years of team control? Trading Plouffe would be a unique attempt by the Twins to “sell high”.

    If not, Dodger fans, there’s always Danny Valencia…

    Options that may help the Dodgers bullpen would obviously be Jared Burton and/or possibly Matt Capps. If I were the Dodgers (or any team), I would inquire on Jared Burton, he would be a Matt Guerrier-type asset to a bullpen that misses the real (and more expensive) Matt Guerrier. I would also fake bad reception if the Twins bring up Matt Capps’s name.

    Why They Won’t Trade With The Twins
    Listen, the Dodgers have a window of opportunity right now and they can’t afford to let this season slip away. The underlying issue is that their best players are hurt now… and they need reinforcements now. By the end of July, there is a pretty good chance (or at least the hope) that they’ll have the heart of their offense back and rolling. If the Twins want to maximize value, dealing a month before the deadline isn’t the best way to achieve it.

    As far as first baseman, where there will continue to be a need, there are options out there with less risk. The Dodgers have been linked to Astros 1B Carlos Lee. Lee has finally returned from a hamstring injury. The rumors of the Astros getting back a solid pitching prospect – and the Dodgers picking up some of his remaining salary (close to $10m of the $18.5m 2012 salary) – would be hard for the Astros to turn down.

    There are conflicting reports about who the Astros would acquire in this trade as well as who would pick up what amount of Lee’s bill. The hang-up, as I type this, is whether El Caballo will waive his no-trade clause and accept a trade to L.A. (away from his ranches in Texas).

    Acquiring Lee would probably mitigate any interest the team might have had in Justin Morneau, though the Dodgers apparently believe Lee can still play a little in the outfield.

    Conclusion
    The Dodgers are going to deal, so keep an eye on them. They also made a trade for an aging player (Casey Blake) a few years ago and because they didn’t want to pick up the $6.1m tab that was owed to him, they shipped a top prospect (Carlos Santana) back. If the Twins were willing to pick up most of Morneau’s contract, would the Dodgers sweeten the pot?

    Something worth noting from the Dodgers perspective: They have 3 guys on the 60-day DL, so they have 43 players on their 40-man. To take on more guys, you’d have to assume they’d be dealing from their active roster.

    They’ve also recently agreed to sign Cuban OF Yasiel Puig to an absurd 7-yr, $42m major-league deal, so they’ll have to make more room… and might be less inclined to take on an outfielder in a deal. Though I don’t believe Puig is going to be contributing this year (or next).

    ~~~

    Possible Trade Targets
    Zach Lee – RHP
    Lee, the 28th overall pick in 2010, dropped down draft boards because it was nearly certain he would be attending LSU to play baseball and quarterback the football team. When the Dodgers selected him, it was viewed as a “punted pick”, made to save the club some money. In the biggest shocker of all draft signings in 2010, Lee signed for $5.25 million at the August deadline. His top-of-the-rotation ceiling moved him to the top of Dodger prospect lists. He was left off of this list initially, because it appeared there was little to no chance of the Dodgers trading him. But once he was mentioned in Carlos Lee trade rumors - even though it doesn't appear likely he'll be traded - he was added.

    Nate Eovaldi – RHP
    Eovaldi made his big-league debut last year and held his own over six starts (ten appearances). Forced by injuries to join the rotation this spring, he is 0-4, 4.04. He’s a power pitcher who may end up in the back of a bullpen.

    Allen Webster – RHP
    The Dodgers #2 prospect behind Lee has slowly been climbing the ladder and has struggled in his first full season at AA. Webster is a sinkerball pitcher who sits in the mid-90s. His change-up is phenomenal. He was baseball’s #68 rated prospect coming into the year, according to MLB.com

    Chris Withrow – RHP
    The 2007 1st round pick out of Midland, Texas fits the “power” mold the Twins were looking to add in the 2012 draft. If he could harness his stuff, he’d be a middle-of-the-rotation type guy; if not, his future’s in the bullpen. Currently, his future is on hold. He’s on the minor league DL after suffering a vicious cut on his hand while throwing a snorkel mask. (You can’t make this stuff up!) This is Withrow’s first option year as he was added to L.A.’s 40-man last November.

    Garrett Gould – RHP
    Gould made his full-season debut last year in Midwest League and went 11-6. He was promoted to High-A this year and currently has a 1-6 record. His peripherals haven’t changed much (besides his BABIP going from .260 last year to .352 this year) and he’s still striking batters out (72 Ks in 72 IP this year). His status could eventually elevate to the top-of-the-rotation starter, though #3 starter is more likely.

    Scott Barlow – RHP
    A 6th round draft pick in 2011 out of a California high school, Barlow added weight and velocity and was primed to breakout as a prospect. Earlier this week, it was announced that Barlow would miss the rest of the year due to Tommy John surgery. As was discussed about Kyle Drabek earlier, could this be a chance for the Twins to “buy low”?

    Chad Billingsley – RHP
    If the Dodgers were to deal from their right-handed pitcher depth, may they be willing to part with a member of their current rotation? The big-bodied righty is the type of pitcher the Twins prefer to employ. He has a hefty contract – he’s in the first year of a three-year, $35 million deal - and moving it would free up money to spend elsewhere.

    (picture from franklinavenue.blogspot.com)
    This article was originally published in blog: Trade Target Team Profile: L.A. Dodgers started by Jeremy Nygaard
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I have been hoping that someone would do the Dodgers. Thanks for this.

      Valencia has had some recent multi homer games at Rochester and has had some success in the majors. Now that Plouffe has become a home run hitting machine, Valencia seems expendable. As you have stated, Uribe is old and hitting poorly. It seems to me that Valencia has decent upside and is a cheap bet.

      Valencia seems like the kind of publicity loving player who might thrive in Los Angeles -- a change of scene might greatly improve his performance. So I think that it would be wise for the Twins to see if the Dodgers might have serious interest in Valencia.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      I think the Twins will try and move Valencia before the deadline. I don't think the Twins would get a great return for Valencia - and the Dodgers don't appear to have an "formerly-drafted-by-the-Twins" players to trade them. (Blake Dean, unsigned pick in 2009, retired this offseason.)

      I view it kind of the same way that everyone viewed Kevin Slowey as on the way out during the lead up to last year's deadline. But who really knows...?
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Nice write-up, I've been hoping we make a move with the Dodgers before. Span, particularly, would be a great fit for them. Lee apparently vetoed the trade to LA so Morneau would still be an option although I still don't think the Twins will trade him this year.

      Plouffe's an interesting idea but my guess is that the Twins would rather hold him, since he's cheap and we don't have an obvious third baseman if he's gone.
    1. jianfu's Avatar
      jianfu -
      I think Gould's the prospect that was going to go in the nixed Carlos Lee deal. FWIW.

      Nice piece. Looks like they have a lot of arms.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      From Danny Knobler (link):

      The Dodgers have talked about quite a few other hitters, including both Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham of the Twins. The Twins have said it's a longshot that they trade Willingham, however.
      I wonder if the Dodgers get shut out by the Cubs, if the Twins could swing a deal for Liriano where the Dodgers also have to take Morneau and the Twins still get a couple of decent (not great) pitching prospects. I'd be OK with that deal.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Morneau, if he continues to progress will have a lot more value next year. Unless Ryan is planning on spending a ton of cash this offseason on pitching, he'd be wise to wait on Morneau.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I don't get the hesitancy to trade a 33 year old, given the state of this club, but whatever....

      As for Morneau, if they can deal him, it would be great. I love his game, and his involvement in the community. I will miss him greatly, he's everything we should like in our sports people. But they need the money for pitching, and you can move Benson or Mauer or someone to 1B if you need to....or even Parmalee could step up despite my doubts. I'd certainly agree to pay 100% of his salary this year, as that is sunk payroll anyway, if that helps me get better players in return.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      The only reason people want to keep Morneau is for personal reason cause they root for the guy or the MVP he didn't deserve in 2006 still means something to them.

      If the Dodgers want him and are willing to pick up even a penny of that contract you make that trade and you don't even think twice about it.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      The only reason people want to keep Morneau is for personal reason cause they root for the guy or the MVP he didn't deserve in 2006 still means something to them.

      If the Dodgers want him and are willing to pick up even a penny of that contract you make that trade and you don't even think twice about it.
      Having the intellect and wisdom to know the inner thoughts and feelings of thousands and thousands of strangers is pretty impressive. To quote Fletch: "God I admire you."
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      The only reason people want to keep Morneau is for personal reason cause they root for the guy or the MVP he didn't deserve in 2006 still means something to them.
      Or because logically no one's going to give up much for a first baseman with a .750 OPS, injury concerns and $20M left on his contract.

      If he finishes strong and healthy, things change a bit. I certainly don't think he's in danger of decreasing his value between now and the offseason. So really, what's the argument in favor of trading him for a paltry return right now? Save the Pohalds $5 million? Make room for Parmelee? There are certainly ways they can get Parm into the lineup without giving away Morneau for nothing.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      The only reason people want to keep Morneau is for personal reason cause they root for the guy or the MVP he didn't deserve in 2006 still means something to them.

      If the Dodgers want him and are willing to pick up even a penny of that contract you make that trade and you don't even think twice about it.

      No, it's because you won't get jack squat for him now, and as you've stated before, the team isn't goint to take the cash and add starting pitching up the wazoo. He won't get much of anything right now. Even if his level of play doesn't change from here on out, he's going to fetch quite a bit more by simply having 1/2 year left on his contract... and if by chance he continues to improve, that value only goes up.

      He isn't going to get us a thing now other than to lower the value of one of our other trade pieces, so I really don't get your insistence on trading him.
    1. rickyhawaii's Avatar
      rickyhawaii -
      The Twins could probably get Ivan Dejesus for cheap from the Dodgers. Former top 100 guy - SS, not sure how he is supposed to be with the glove. He can probably compete and take Casilla's job. Has a decent bat as well.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      Having the intellect and wisdom to know the inner thoughts and feelings of thousands and thousands of strangers is pretty impressive. To quote Fletch: "God I admire you."
      First prize.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      The only reason people want to keep Morneau is for personal reason cause they root for the guy or the MVP he didn't deserve in 2006 still means something to them.

      If the Dodgers want him and are willing to pick up even a penny of that contract you make that trade and you don't even think twice about it.
      You still haven't told us why the Twins should want to get rid of Morneau for nothing but salary relief, when you yourself have told us that not only won't the Twins be investing that money this winter in pitching, but if fact they shouldn't invest that money this winter.

      Are you one of Carl's grandkids? Worried about the enheritence?
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