The Rays and the Dodgers seem to be lining up quite well as potential trade partners before the end of the month. Much has been written about David Price, and the Dodgers seem like a good fit. Mike wrote about the Dodgers and Ben Zobrist, which may or may not be the best of ideas. But no one is talking about the most obvious candidate: left-handed reliever Jake McGee.
Look, Ned Colletti’s track record when it comes to trading for relievers is less than stellar. Here are the significant trades he’s made for relievers in his tenure as Dodger GM:
- Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany for Danys Baez and (All-Star) Lance Carter
- Wilson Betemit for Scott Proctor
- Josh Bell and Steven Johnson for George Sherrill
- James McDonald and Andrew Lambo for 18 2/3 innings of Octavio Dotel
- Logan Bawcom and Leon Landry for Brandon League
While some of the guys never panned out, it’s about getting appropriate value in return for prospects and young players. But, this is a different Colletti — one who hasn’t really overpaid (trade-wise) for a reliever in a few years.
McGee, 27, is having a fantastic season and is about to start getting more expensive. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the second time and is sure to get a significant from the $1.45 million he’s making this season. He’s under team control through the 2017 season. If the Dodgers are going to acquire a reliever before the deadline, it might as well be a guy who’s not only good, but will be around for a few years.
He has a 1.16 ERA, 1.58 FIP, 2.78 xFIP, 10.5 K/9 and a 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those numbers account for a 1.5 fWAR, tied for fifth-best among relievers in the majors.
McGee just isn’t a LOOGY by any means. In fact, he’s faring better against right-handers (.141/.202/.163) this season than he is lefties (.214/.273/.268) — but he’s dominating both sides. And he’s doing it with his mid-90s fastball.
Wow. He throws his fastball more than any pitcher in baseball not named Kenley Jansen. It’s obviously a good one, if he’s succeeding with it as much as he is. His curveball, a pitch he’s never thrown before this season, is an afterthought. But hey, whatever works.
This is probably the peak of McGee’s value, and the Rays should be able to get a couple good prospects in return — if they decide to trade him. They’ve won 10 of their last 13 and 17 of their last 26 games, and could finally be headed in the right direction. But for one of the league’s worst farm systems, this seems like the perfect time to start the rebuilding process.
Enter the Dodgers. It’s clear the bullpen needs a face lift. It could (and probably will) come from within. Paco Rodriguez could easily get the call (he should have never left), and guys like Jose Dominguez, Yimi Garcia and others in Triple-A could also get the call. But even with J.P. Howell and Rodriguez, McGee is a different animal from the left side.
That would give the Dodgers perhaps the best trio of lefty relievers in the game — all of whom can get righties out. Team that trio with Jansen, Brian Wilson (ugh), League (meh) and Jamey Wright (k), and there’s a pretty formidable bullpen.
In this scenario, the big three are out: Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Julio Urias. But everyone else not drafted this year or signed to an international free agent contract in the last calendar year are up for grabs.
The Rays’ farm system has taken a hit in recent years, which isn’t unsurprising. They’ve missed pretty bad in a some drafts the last few years, and a replenishing of the system could be in order. They’ll get a king’s ransom for Price (still wondering why they wouldn’t work with the A’s to get Addison Russell), a nice haul for Zobrist and should be able to land a B-level and lower-level, high-risk guy for McGee. At least, that’s what I’m about to propose.
I know, you’re shocked to see Reed included here. Well, he’s having a pretty good season in Double-A and, despite being a reliever long-term, Tampa could keep him in the rotation for as long as they can. He could be a cheap source of innings for a frugal Tampa Bay team for years. Curletta was a sixth-rounder in 2012 with power potential that has yet to be realized.
The second deal gives the Rays a hitter who is relatively close to the majors, and a low-level pitcher with potential in Arano (Baseball Prospectus’ Dodger No. 10 prospect coming into the season). The Rays have a second base prospect in Ryan Brett, so they might be more inclined to like Schebler.
Or, the Dodgers could just trade Zach Lee for McGee straight up — something I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to. I’d also be somewhat open to including Chris Anderson or Tom Windle, but I’d need a guy like Sean Rodriguez coming back in return.
(Like I have any influence over potential negotiations)
The Dodgers don’t exactly need to make a big trade during the season, but they won’t shy away from the possibility. But in the mean time, why not go for an upgrade in the team’s biggest area of need.
Oh, and McGee shares a birthday with yours truly, so trading for him makes even more sense, Ned. Just sayin’.