The next player up in the trade deadline series might be the one who makes the most sense. It’s stud left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers of the Twins.
- Max Scherzer (July 17)
- Jose Berrios (July 19)
- Hansel Robles, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson (July 20)
- Kyle Gibson (July 21)
- Craig Kimbrel (July 22)
- Jon Gray (July 23)
- Kris Bryant (July 25)
Rogers, 30, is enjoying the best season of his MLB career. He owns a 3.35 ERA, 2.53 FIP and a borderline elite 30.7 K-BB%. He’s always been a solid control pitcher (career 5.9 BB%), but he has seen his strikeout rate increase to 35.5% — 3.1 percentage points higher than his career-high in 2019. He has, however, been a little more hittable than in years’ past with a .241 batting average against. Some of that can be attributed to an abnormally high .358 BABIP, but he does a decent job of keeping the ball in the yard (0.89 HR/9) and on the ground (50 GB%).
Like many Dodgers past and present, there’s a lot of red on Rogers’ StatCast profile.
He does all his damage with just two pitches: a sinker and a slider. His sinker averages 95.7 MPH and gets whiffs at a 15.6% rate. His slider is a beastly pitch. It’s an 84 MPH bender and gets a 38.8 Whiff%. It also carries just a .186 xBA and .203 xWOBA. His overall velo has ticked up since last season, and his overall performance has been much better.
Where he thrives is against left-handed hitters — an area in which the Dodgers struggle. He has a .223 wOBA and a ridiculous 50.9 K-BB% against them. That mark is the best in baseball as a left-handed reliever against left-handed hitters. He has allowed just 10 left-handed hitters to reach base.
Conversely, the Dodgers are near the bottom-third in baseball when it comes to left-handed relievers vs. left-handed hitters. They sport a .299 wOBA and just an 11.6 K-BB%. That’s, in part, due to the regression of Victor Gonzalez, Scott Alexander not being a high strikeout guy and Garrett Cleavinger and Alex Vesia being inconsistent at best. Rogers would not only fill a huge need as a left-handed reliever, but could also help in late-inning, high-leverage situations. He has experience closing and could give Kenley Jansen and/or Blake Treinen some relief, depending on the situation.
Rogers is under team control for one more season before he hits free agency. He’s earning $6 million this season, so the amount added to the payroll would be minimal.
Amaya gives the Twins a legitimate shortstop prospect to plug in as early as 2022, but more likely 2023. Royce Lewis, despite being drafted- and listed as a shortstop, is probably the team’s next center fielder (should they move Byron Buxton), so shortstop is going to be a need for them. Uceta gives them an arm for the immediate. Despite Uceta’s struggles in the majors, he still has a solid 3-pitch mix, led by an above-average changeup. Still, if the Twins end up trading starting pitchers (Berrios, JA Happ, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda) at the deadline, they’re going to need some innings for the rest of the season. Rodriguez would give the Twins a high-upside guy who has struggled a bit since being signed to a big international bonus a few years ago.
Yes, starting pitching is a need, but a good, consistent left-handed reliever might be an even more pressing need, especially if David Price and Tony Gonsolin continue to throw the ball well. Rogers is the best one available and the Dodgers should be targeting him.