Roundup: Muncy, Heyward, Kelly, Sweeney, Glasnow deals reax, Betts’ move, the CBT situation, and top prospects

(Photo: Kirby Lee)

While a lot of the coverage of late has understandably focused on Shohei Ohtani, the Dodgers have also made a bunch of other moves this off-season, and they have generally graded out quite well. Also, Mookie Betts‘ position switch, where the payroll currently stands, and top prospect lists are starting to roll out.


FanGraphs: What now seems like forever ago, Max Muncy signed an extension with the Dodgers, which Jay Jaffe sees as win-win.

All told, this is a move with little downside. The Dodgers retain a big thumper who provides some flexibility to go along with his dingers, but doesn’t necessarily have to carry an offense led by Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Muncy, for his part, keeps himself in a familiar and comfortable place on a perennial contender with championship aspirations. Looks like a win-win situation from here.

Baseball Prospectus: Ginny Searle sees it as a bargain to the point where the union probably didn’t enjoy seeing it.

A 95-point uptick in OPS from his simply average 2022 still didn’t get Muncy near the height of his 4.8 WARP career year back in 2021, but particularly in this market an infielder who can reliably be penciled in for two-and-a-half wins would secure far more than a $12 million AAV over a couple years. It’s Muncy’s money and prerogative, but it’s hard not to imagine frustration on the part of the union and some other players toward that choice knowing that teams rarely if ever give players sweetheart deals of this sort.

FanGraphs: Jason Heyward will also return in 2024 and Michael Baumann basically says it works for both sides due to familiarity and need.

Heyward is uniquely suited to fill the Dodgers’ specific needs on the field, and the Dodgers put him in a position to play his best baseball since, arguably, 2015. If both player and club were happy with that arrangement last year, it would be foolish not to extend that partnership for another season.

Baseball Prospectus: Searle also thinks it makes sense in terms of filling roster needs, but has the same concern I do with regards to bringing back their breakout players.

The biggest question, as Heyward moves into his age-34 campaign, is whether he can sustain his improvements from last year. The Dodgers are known for these sorts of dramatic turnarounds—see Andrew Heaney in 2022—but given the tendencies of other clubs to attempt to pry such comebacks away for their own benefits, it’s less common to see LA’s bargain-bin finds stick around at slightly less cut-rate prices.

FanGraphs: Chris Gilligan‘s thoughts on Joe Kelly‘s deal is the same many have with a lot of (too many) Dodgers pitchers.

Major League Baseball is unique in that the players are largely protected from losing out on their contracts as a result of injury – a humane practice when we consider that, after all, these players are people first. But when it comes to contract analysis, and absent the ability to predict the future, we’re sometimes left with a pretty simple if unsatisfying answer: If Kelly is healthy enough to pitch, this move will likely be remembered as a relative bargain. If not, it may look like too much faith in an oft-injured 35-year-old.

Baseball Prospectus: Craig Goldstein was forced to write words (technically) about Mariachi Joe being on his favorite team again, which makes this move worth it.

Baseball Prospectus: On the Trey Sweeney trade front, Patrick Dubuque says both teams did what they had to do.

The Dodgers also won this trade. The conditions that compelled it are the most ideal imaginable: The dramatic acquisition of Shohei Ohtani necessitated the opening of a vacancy on the 40-man roster, and the somewhat less shocking return of Joe Kelly was an upgrade that demanded a second, separate sacrifice. This is why describing the trade as Vivas and González for Sweeney is a bit of a misnomer; they were exchanged for each other in the literal sense, but not in the spiritual one. Their departure is tied directly to the Ohtani and Kelly signings that took their roster spots, and count against the value of those additions. By the time the trade was finalized, those two players were already ex-Dodgers. Just as the Yankees got a reliever for free, so did the Dodgers get a mid-tier prospect.

The Athletic: Keith Law is not high on Sweeney helping their shortstop situation.

This is more about the roster space than the return, as Sweeney, the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2021, probably won’t even crack the Dodgers’ top 20 prospects this winter; he’s a third baseman at best with below-average power and a strong distaste for breaking stuff. (Of course, the Dodgers will use their devil magic to get him to hit 27 homers this coming season.)

Baseball Prospectus: Craig basically sums up what most people feel about the Tyler Glasnow trade, which is that it’s a gamble on health.

What it is, is a gamble. It’s a gamble that Glasnow will not only be healthy (enough) across the terms of the contract that his front-end rotation quality will justify it, but more important that he will be healthy at the right time. As noted in the first paragraph: This is about the playoffs. And for this deal to be successful, on their terms, Glasnow needs to be available come October.

FanGraphs: Ben Clemens thought the Dodgers could get more value from the guys they traded, mainly because they’re basically paying Glasnow market rate.

Maybe I’m missing something here. Two 45 prospects – and maybe that’s kind to Deluca, Eric’s latest report has a 40 on him – for Tyler Glasnow sounds like a big win. But for a guy who would have hit free agency after this season if not for the extension, and for two guys who fit the Rays’ mold so perfectly? I’m surprised the Dodgers couldn’t pry a bit more value free from Tampa Bay in the exchange.

The Athletic: Law says the risk of this deal goes both ways, but the stakes for the Dodgers are higher.

If you’re sensing that I have reservations about everyone in this deal, you’re right, and I think this entails a lot more risk for the Dodgers because the stakes are higher for them. It’s World Series or bust for Los Angeles this year, and they just added one of the best starters in baseball who is also one of the most unreliable (from the perspective of innings pitched, at least). There’s a small but real chance that Pepiot gives the Rays more in 2023 than Glasnow gives the Dodgers, if Pepiot’s apparent steps forward last year hold up over a full season in the majors.
There’s also a chance this works out for everyone — Glasnow has his first full season as a starter, the Dodgers sprinkle their fairy dust on Margot and he and Heyward combine for 5 wins in right field, while Pepiot becomes a mid-rotation starter and Deluca develops into a regular. I just see wide ranges of possible outcomes for three of the players, all but Margot, and that increases the risk for everyone involved.

The Athletic: As far as grades go, the Dodgers get a ‘B’ from Andy McCullough, Eno Sarris put the Dodgers at an ‘A-‘, and the same goes for Stephen Nesbitt.

ESPN: David Schoenfield gave the Dodgers a ‘B+’.

CBS Sports: Finally, R.J. Anderson gave them an ‘A’, and everybody came to those grades through using basically the same upside versus risk logic, but I suppose weighted differently.


MLB: Some guy I never heard of before breaks down the Mookie move to second and why it makes sense, boiling things down to basically it being harder to find slugging second baseman than right fielders.

Betts is a star no matter where he plays, and in part his value in 2023 was from his willingness to play anywhere he was needed. But everyone involved seems to think that this move is going to let him play more and keep him fresher, and whether that’s true or not, there’s something to be said about keeping a star happy and the simple math of where it’s most valuable to have elite offense.


True Blue LA: Alright, so the latest on the Dodgers’ CBT number is that they are at ~$252 million, which is $25 million away from the next threshold and $45 million away from the last threshold. The fact that they’re still very in on Yoshinobu Yamamoto tells me they don’t have a problem going past the $277 million tier, but maybe will try and stay below the $297 million mark, which still gives them a lot of room to add even if they don’t get specifically Yamamoto.


Baseball Prospectus: Some surprises in the Top 22 prospects (plus one), as these lists begin to roll out now.


A bunch of analysis worth reading in this post, honestly.

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times