The Dodgers made a pair of trades yesterday, obviously headlined by the Danny Duffy acquisition (covered here), and they also got a couple of guys from the Nationals named Max Scherzer and Trea Turner (covered here).
While the takes of Dodgers Digest are obviously the best (please don’t leave), there’s been a lot of quality analysis done so far around the web, so let’s take a look.
Max Scherzer & Trea Turner
FanGraphs: Ben Clemens points out essentially the same things I did, which makes him very smart.
The Dodgers, though, are in the perfect position for this move to make sense. There’s huge equity in going from a Wild Card spot to the division title. Just playing in the Wild Card game cuts your chances of winning the World Series roughly in half, and even then your rotation is out of whack for the next series. Getting your odds cut in half would also hurt the Dodgers most, because they have the highest odds to start with; they’re the best team in baseball. In addition, they can afford to lose Ruiz and Gray. They’ll still have a stacked rotation next year, and they already have one of the best young catchers in baseball. They often run away with the NL West crown; in a year where it’s close, it’s worth spending a bit of future potential to shore up the now. Not only that, but both the Padres and Giants were rumored to be in on Scherzer, and adding him keeps their rivals from doing the same.
The Athletic: A roundtable for the trade? Absolutely. Jayson Stark, Jim Bowden, Fabian Ardaya, Maria Torres, Eno Sarris, and Andy McCullough. The highlight, for better or worse, is of course Andy.
The other day I had this dumb idea: Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Who says no? The Dodgers were approaching a desperate state, given their lack of rotation depth and inability to overtake the Giants. The Nationals had the possibility to deliver an ace plus a star-level position player. Given the level of interest in Scherzer, maybe the Dodgers could offer something wild in order to truly tilt the race in the West.
ESPN: Bradford Doolittle hands out trade grades, giving the Dodgers an A+ and the Nationals a B+.
This is it. This is what it means to run the Los Angeles Dodgers. You do all the things the smart teams do. You scout college, prep and international players alike and invest in developing those players to maintain a deep minor league system. You keep a steady churn at the end of the 40-man roster to give manager Dave Roberts the best possible roster for every game. You deploy the most advanced analytics. And when the chance arises to snare an expensive, elite star, you lower the hammer because, well, you can. It’s almost not fair.
Aggression for a team that already has the talent to win it all always deserves to be appreciated. So no matter how this deal shakes out in terms of long-term ramifications for the Dodgers, there is no way to assess this for Los Angeles other than to give the highest grade possible.
CBS Sports: R.J. Anderson also gives out grades, handing the Dodgers an A and also giving the Nationals an A for the return.
Long story short, Turner is a dynamic player who can pitch in across the board at a high level, and who gives the Dodgers additional flexibility heading forward, within this season and next. The Dodgers had to make the uncharacteristic move of parting with multiple top prospects to get the deal done, but it’s easy to understand why — and it might just allow them to repeat as champions.
Sporting News: Ryan Fagan hands out grades, giving an A+ to the Dodgers and a B+ to the Nationals.
Imagine trying to win a playoff series against the Dodgers when they’re throwing Scherzer, Buehler and Kershaw or Urias in the first three games. Yikes.
The Ringer: Zach Kram notes the risk still in play, but ultimately concludes this will make them hard to pick against.
Given that reality, it’s possible that Scherzer will never even pitch a playoff game for L.A.: The Dodgers could finish second in the division, start Buehler in the wild-card game, and lose that early. But Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman isn’t afraid to go stargazing with a team he thinks can win the title: The Dodgers traded for Yu Darvish in 2017 and Manny Machado in 2018, both near the deadline, en route to World Series berths, then took a year off before landing Mookie Betts in the offseason before their 2020 title. Clearly, and rightly, Friedman believes the 2021 group has just as much potential.
But this trade is ultimately about the Dodgers and their quest to become the first team since the 2000 Yankees to repeat as champions. The Dodgers aren’t in the best position to do so—not with the specter of the wild-card game still hanging awfully close overhead. But with Scherzer and Turner, the best team in the league got much, much better Thursday. Once again, it will be hard to pick against a group with this combination of depth and top-tier talent.
Baseball Prospectus: Ginny Searle runs through the improvements the Dodgers have made through replacing the replacement-level talent with the trade, noting that it also serves as a declaration of sorts.
The Dodgers won’t be part of the pack. Everyone expected the NL West to have two of MLB’s best teams, and while many hoped that’d culminate in an arms race, it was an open question as to whether the reigning champions would be too dominant to truly be contended with. Los Angeles has, to be clear, been dominant—record notwithstanding, they’re the best team in the National League and one of the best in baseball.
The Athletic: Keith Law mainly looked at the return for the Nationals, saying that the got enough but should’ve got more.
My gut feeling on this is that the Nats will end up with enough on-field value from Gray and Ruiz that they will be able to say, with justification, that they got enough of a return — but that two guys as impactful as Scherzer and Turner should have fetched a little bit more.
FanGraphs: Eric Longenhagen looks at the return for the Nationals as well, also thinking they did fine.
How does this package feel for a deal of this magnitude? I think it largely hinges on how great Ruiz becomes, but offhand I think it’s fine. A weak system got two top 100 prospects. Scherzer leaves a World Series and Hall of Fame legacy in his wake, but is a straight up rental here. And while giving up a year of Trea Turner stings, this move doesn’t preclude the Nationals from pursuing one of the free agent shortstops available this winter and having a better roster six months from now.
ESPN: Bradford Doolittle gives the Dodgers a B- and the Royals an Incomplete, mainly recapping his injuries and stuff, but noting a potential for the Dodgers to eliminate his sinker usage.
His acquisition is a worthy gamble in and of itself, and for Duffy’s sake, let’s not fall into the trap of comparing his production to that of the other top pitchers on the trade market.
Baseball Prospectus: Craig Goldstein notes that while the projections didn’t necessarily love him, he will likely take on a pen role that could be beneficial.
While he started for the Royals, the Dodgers’ acquisition of Max Scherzer should have Duffy bullpen bound. He could very well fill the role that Alex Wood did in last year’s playoffs, providing multiple innings of relief while leaning heavily on his fastball and slider. The unsettled nature of the bullpen does allow him the option of leverage innings, though, should he prove up to the task.