Now that we’ve entered the new year, the Dodgers still have a little work to do on the roster. We know they won’t be signing any big-time free agents, and not just because the last one (Carlos Correa) is officially — finally — off the board.
I wrote on Monday about the fact the Dodgers are up against the luxury tax threshold of $233 million. If they’re going to trry to improve the roster while staying under, it’s going to take some manuvering by Andrew Friedman.
So, I have a proposal. It might be one of the more complex proposals I’ve devised in my time rosterbating for this site, but there are extenuating circumstances surrounding these rosterbatory tactics. This involves Bryan Reynolds, but he isn’t heading to LA in this 3-team proposal. Instead, the Dodgers go for one of the Marlins’ young hurlers — and no, it isn’t Sandy Alcantara.
OK, enough beating around the bush. Here we go.
To MIA: OF Bryan Reynolds, RHP Blake Treinen, RHP Landon Knack, C Samuel Escudero, Competitive Balance Round B Draft Pick
To PIT: 2B Michael Busch, RHP Max Meyer, RHP Gavin Stone
To LA: LHP Trevor Rogers, Competitive Balance Round A Draft Pick
I’ll give you a moment to take that all in.
According to the Baseball Trade Values simulator, the deal is really even in terms of value. Of course, this site isn’t the be-all, end-all, but it’s a fun way to get the ball rolling. So, let’s try to justify this for all teams involved.
The Marlins have a surplus of young starting pitching, led by the aforementioned Alcantara — the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner. They also have Pablo Lopez, Edward Cabrera, Jesus Luzardo. They also recently signed Johnny Cueto, but he isn’t exactly young. In the minors, they have one of the game’s top pitching prospects in Eury Perez, a solid lefty in Braxton Garrett and former top prospect Sixto Sanchez — acquired in the J.T. Realmuto deal — set to return after missing two season with shoulder issues. Dax Fulton is in Double-A, but is a couple years away at this stage.
With such a surplus and a lack of offense, it makes all the sense in the world for them to move one or two of their arms for an established bat like Reynolds. He’d slide right into their outfield and probably hit second or third in that lineup. He might not make them a playoff contender on his own, but it’d be a big step in the right direction.
Pittsburgh is said to want starting pitching as the primary return for in a Reynolds deal, and a couple strong starting pitching prospects they get. Stone is going to be a Top 100 prospect — if he isn’t already — while Meyer was ranked 24th and 35th by Baseball Prospectus and MLB Pipeline, respectively (74th by Baseball America) heading into the 2022 season. He made his debut in July and lasted all of six innings before going down with a torn UCL. Still, he has a lot of value to an org like the Pirates, if their aim is to get top-flight pitching prospects in return for Reynolds. Not only that, they also get Busch, who could be a Day 1 starter at second base for the Buccos and challenge for NL Rookie of the Year.
Busch, Stone, Knack and Treinen may look like a high price to pay for a pitcher who had a 5.47 ERA and 4.36 FIP in 107 innings in 2022, but the Dodgers wouldn’t be looking to get the ’22 version of Rogers. They’d be hoping for the 2021 version — a Top 15 pitcher in baseball (minimum 130 innings), according to FanGraphs WAR.
They’d also get the 35th pick in the draft. Last year, that pick carried a slot value of $2,203,200, which will be slightly higher in 2023 and would add to the Dodgers’ bonus pool. If they landed this selection, they’d have back-to-back picks at 35 and 36. For a draftniks like me and Josh, this is our dream.
But, back to Rogers. His Statcast numbers for 2022 weren’t pretty.
But his 2021 Statcast numbers were borderline dominant.
With exit velocity against being a teachable skill, Rogers could see an improvement there after Mark Prior gets his magical developmental hands on him. He has swing-and-miss stuff, elite-level fastball spin and all the makings of a No. 2/3 starter. His biggest questions are health (as with every pitcher) and command/control. He has a 9.0 BB% for his career, which isn’t terrible on the surface. He did see his strikeout percentage dip by more than 6 percentage points from ’21 to ’22. That could be due to back spasms and a lat strain that prematurely ended his season. But when he’s healthy, he’s as nasty a lefty starter as there is in the game.
Another factor here: The Dodgers would save money. They’d be moving Treinen’s $8 million salary while taking on Rogers’ sub-$1 million salary as a pre-arbitration player. He made $722,000 last season. And losing Knack isn’t that big a deal on the surface since he has dealt with injuries and his stuff has backed up. The Marlins are, obviously, pretty good at developing pitching, so maybe their staff could have a go at the former 2nd-rounder.
And if you’re worried about giving up Stone to get Rogers, well Rogers is one year older than Stone and was an All-Star at 24, while Stone is still waiting to make his MLB debut. Plus, the Dodgers still have Bobby Miller and Ryan Pepiot in the fold, with guys like Nick Frasso, Nick Nastrini, Ronan Kopp and Emmet Sheehan still on the farm. Also, acquiring a 25-year-old starter with four years of team control remaining and his profile isn’t cheap.
A proposal like this doesn’t address shortstop, as it seems the Dodgers are content with going with some amalgam of Gavin Lux/Jacob Amaya/Chris Taylor to start the season. Who woulda thunk we night be pining for 34-year-old Elvis Andrus at this point? It would also, seemingly, lock them into James Outman and Trayce Thompson (and Taylor) in center field. The little bit of breathing room by moving off Treinen’s contract could help come the trade deadline, which might very well be the plan at this rate.
I realize this is mostly for fun and not a super realistic possibility, but if the Dodgers are going to improve the roster this winter while staying under the threshold, something like this is going to have to happen. Otherwise, they’re going to go into the 2023 season as borderline favorites for the NL West title, rather than the overwhelming favorites we’ve become accustomed to over the last decade.