Juan Uribe was traded to the Braves in a deal involving Alberto Callaspo yesterday morning. Then he wasn’t because Callaspo said he loved playing for the Braves. Then it wasn’t ever going to get revived and Uribe was giving the press damage control quotes before the game started. Then Callaspo changed his mind about the whole thing and the terms of the trade ended up finalized while the game was still ongoing.
What a bizarre day for everybody involved, which is only appropriate for what ended up as a bizarre trade.
Uribe is into his decline phase and is a free agent after the season, but he was still likely up to the task of being a fringe-average regular (if not above-average) at third thanks to passable hitting and good defense. For Withrow’s part, he wasn’t as good as his 2.73 career ERA, but his 3.65 FIP is likely skewed a bit by his 2014 walk rate, which may have been partially caused by the elbow injury that currently has him on the DL. He’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery, but if he comes all the way back, he could be a potential back-end bullpen arm since he sits 95-97 mph and has two above-average breaking balls in his cutter and curve.
The Dodgers’ return for two potentially solid MLB players is a tad underwhelming. Callaspo has a 2015 line of .206/.293/.252/.545 and he posted a similar line last season over 451 plate appearances. He plays third and second, and while he used to play quality defense at third, that’s come down closer to league average with age, and he’s always played a poor second base. At 32, it’s unlikely that he rises above replacement level, which he hasn’t shown much hope of doing since 2012. Stults is a lefty starter that pitched in the Dodgers organization from 2002-09. In eight starts and 44 innings for the Braves in 2015, he has a 6.34 ERA and 5.72 FIP, and in 176 innings last year with the Padres, he put up a 4.30 ERA and 4.63 FIP. He’s been hovering around a replacement level pitcher all his career, sans one 3 WAR season in 2013, and at 35 he seems likely to remain replacement level for the Dodgers.
The young(er) pitchers acquired hold some promise, but both come with major red flags. Jaime throws 94-96 mph and misses a ton of bats, but he can’t find the strike zone. He has struck out 12.5 per nine in his MLB career, but has walked 8.6 per nine. In AAA, he’s walked 42 batters in 44.2 innings, and this year alone he’s walked nine batters in 5.1 innings in the minors. Technically he has promise because of the velocity, but he’s 27 and the Dodgers have been through many of these guys over the years because they’re not that uncommon, and the fact that he was designated for assignment in April by the Braves isn’t a promising sign that he was on the verge of being usable. Finally, there’s Thomas, who is probably the “gem” of the trade. In 16 innings in the bigs, including 5.1 innings this year, he’s posted a 3.94 ERA and 3.76 FIP, and while he misses a lot of bats (10.1 K/9), he has also struggled with command (6.2 BB/9). So far this year in the minors, he has thrown 15.2 innings of scoreless ball at AAA, striking out 20 and walking just one, but he is also 28 and probably should be doing that. Unlike Adam Liberatore‘s power stuff, Thomas has a LOOGY profile since he sits 89-91 mph with a four-pitch mix. In his minor-league career, Thomas has a .457 OPS to .625 OPS L/R handedness split, which has carried over a bit to the majors at .599 to .768.
It’s difficult to find the return in this trade anything but underwhelming, and you know a trade has probably been bad when one spends hours after a game chatting with analysts, fans, and reporters, and everybody is trying to figure out any angle where the deal makes some sense.
I guess the Dodgers save a million, I guess the rotation depth gets one deeper, I guess Uribe was going to be dumped eventually anyway with Hector Olivera en route, and I guess the Dodgers could get another LOOGY out of it. But the one million in savings seems pointless for a win-now team that isn’t under budget restrictions, and if it was just about dumping Uribe, then why deal away Withrow as well? In terms of the depth acquired, it’s only actual depth if it’s somewhat better than replacement level. The rotation isn’t realistically any deeper than it was before, since Stults should sit behind Joe Wieland and Zach Lee, much less Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger, and I don’t see any evidence he’s better than Scott Baker or David Huff either. Much of the same goes for the younger pen arms, as Jaime seems like a complete flier, and while Thomas could be a contributor, it’s hard to say he’ll definitely be a better option than Daniel Coulombe or even Chris Reed, much less Liberatore, Paco Rodriguez, or J.P. Howell.
All that said, I realize this trade probably doesn’t end up mattering much. The Dodgers still have four likely above-average third basemen (from Justin Turner to Corey Seager), and the team also has other hard-throwing righty relievers with command issues, except they don’t have a history of major injury concerns. However, I just get the feeling that this deal was something Ned Colletti would do — a minor trade where it probably won’t end up disastrous, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and you come away from reading the details of it like the Dodgers didn’t extract much value.
I have no issues with dealing Uribe or Withrow for depth, I just figured in return the Dodgers would be able to net improvements instead of what the Dodgers already had in abundance.
None of the post details Juan Uribe’s entertainment value to fans or his clubhouse prescense, both of which were obviously highly valued, and a part of me thinks Uribe was the only reason Yasiel Puig didn’t literally go nuts during his rookie season.
In any case, #NeverForget him leaving Craig Kimbrel in the bullpen.
And don’t forget the swing that turned it all around either.
And, of course, who can forget the best buddy-cop comedy duo.
Goodbye, Juan Uribe, your Dodgers career has been a hell of a ride.