After missing out on Juan Soto, the Dodgers have moved on to shoring up their depth, acquiring OF Joey Gallo from the Yankees in exchange for RHP prospect Clayton Beeter.
Probably not what fans wanted, but it’s an interesting deal in terms of upside, depth, and insurance for the lineup.
For a five-year stretch from 2017-21, Gallo was quite good, putting up a .208/.336/.497/.834 line and 14-15 WAR by either metric. He struck out a lot, walked a lot, and hit a lot of dingers, supplementing this with great defensive ratings in the outfield.
Since being traded to the Yankees, though, he’s seen his career get almost derailed at 28. After coming over and putting up a .160/.303/.404/.707 line after the deadline in 2021, he’s now putting up a .159/.282/.339/.621 line this year with a career-high strikeout rate (38.8%).
The batted ball metrics? They look about as you’d expect.
While he hits the ball hard, the problem is he’s no longer doing it consistently enough to be productive. He’s always whiffed, but he pounded the ball on contact, and the decline in the latter has led to his line cratering.
Quite frankly, what the Dodgers seem to be hoping for is that a change of scenery will revert him to something like his old self, as he just sounds absolutely miserable in New York.
Granted, it’s never good when the player your team has just acquired is relying on a change of scenery and player development magic to make something work, especially when the team has just a couple months to work with him before he’s a free agent, but if any team can find a way it’s the Dodgers.
Going back the other way is Beeter, a 23-year-old right-handed pitching prospect who entered 2022 with high hopes of progression but has struggled mightily against advanced bats in AA. In 51.2 innings, he has a 5.75 ERA, showing his stuff with a whopping 88 strikeouts, but also showing why he was deemed expendable with 35 walks and 10 homers allowed.
He was ranked as the #15 prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline, #14 by FanGraphs, and #8/#9 here at Dodgers Digest. Though surely at this point he would likely have fallen in those rankings with his 2022 showing.
Both are high variance players, and it’s hard to complain about trading a pitching prospect of that sort in Beeter since the chances of it working out are slim. But he’s also definitely a legit prospect that has impressed scouts even while he’s struggled, so there’s upside there even if it’s as a reliever.
Really, it’s just somewhat surprising that the Dodgers had to give up anything bordering on legit for Gallo given his struggles and the apparent desperation of the Yankees to move on from him. It’s also a bit surprising from a roster fit perspective since he’s likely to take playing time from some combination of Max Muncy, Jake Lamb, Trayce Thompson, Edwin Rios, and perhaps even Cody Bellinger, and it’s difficult to argue he’s a better bet the rest of the year than any of them.
That said, his upside is also higher than anybody mentioned other than Muncy, he provides versatility because he can play the outfield, and he serves as insurance for the bench situation becoming as dire as 2021. Gallo is basically a shot in the dark, and if they recognized something fixable about him, then why not take a chance? Though admittedly if it wasn’t the Dodgers who acquired him with their track record of development, reactions to this would likely be harsher from everybody.
Well, he’ll provide value to fans at least.