The Los Angeles Dodgers made three deals at the trading deadline, acquiring two arms for their bullpen, a starting pitcher, and an outfielder, but the real story around Chavez Ravine is the potential end of the Yasiel Puig era in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers stated in a release that in order to create room on the active roster, Puig was sent to the minors.
The demotion is an obvious slap in the face to a talent such as Puig, and reflects the fact that he likely had such low value on the trade market, that the Dodgers could not get rid of him and get equal value in return.
How a trip to the minors will help the situation is an entirely different question. Perhaps this is the Dodgers way of getting Puig's swing and ailing hamstring back to full health, but they also simply could be trying to keep his "problematic" personality out of the big league clubhouse.
Puig might rub some the wrong way, make mental mistakes on the field, and be prone to injury, but other than Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, and Corey Seager, he is by far the most exciting player on an otherwise no-frills team.
Puig has a cannon of a right arm in right field, explosive speed, and began to pick up his batting average after recovering from an injury earlier in the year. He made strides to act more professionally in the clubhouse this season, and comes at a bargain price for a starting outfielder. Moreover, the man is only 25-years-old and still not in his prime.
The Dodgers' front office, led by Andrew Friedman, loves to constantly tinker with the fringes of the roster, but unlike last year where they refused to trade for an elite starting pitcher, this time they are taking a real gamble.
In a year where Clayton Kershaw might not even be healthy enough to pitch in the postseason anyway, the Dodgers could be ruining their relationship with one of their future building blocks in Puig. Or, at least that was how they marketed Puig to the public.
This isn't the first time the Dodgers gave up on a young player rather quickly. Last season, Friedman traded away second baseman Dee Gordon and ultimately replaced him with veteran Howie Kendrick. Gordon had an outstanding year after the trade and became an All-Star (he later would get suspended for a drug violation), while Kendrick, although productive, nearly turned into a one-year rental. Now they have the veteran Kendrick, an infielder, switching positions and playing in left field.
This can be the problem sometimes with Friedman's love of analytics. Inherently, the review of numbers from past seasons is backward-looking in nature, and often fails to account for upside. That is where the eyeball test comes into play, especially when young players are the topic of discussion.
Friedman whiffed on Gordon, let's hope his abacus doesn't make the same miscalculation on Puig.
If Puig was such a cancer in the locker room, according to the rumors, then doesn't part of the burden of rectifying some of his personality issues fall on the shoulders of rookie manager and Friedman-hire Dave Roberts? Ultimately, if Roberts can't control his clubhouse, then why was he hired in the first place?
Josh Reddick, the man who will replace Puig in the Dodgers constantly overcrowded outfield, was acquired from Oakland, along with left-handed pitcher Rich Hill, in exchange for quality pitching prospects Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas, and Jharel Cotton.
Holmes was a former first round pick, and Montas has dealt with a series of rib issues, but has a live arm. But neither one, nor Cotton for that matter, are lefty Julio Urias, as the Dodgers were able to hang onto their farm system's top overall prospect.
Reddick, 29, is batting .296 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 68 games this year, including hitting safely in nine of his last 11 games since July 18 with a .318 batting average (14-for-44) in that span. The left-handed hitting Reddick has posted a .341 batting average with runners in scoring position (15-for-44) and a .319 mark with runners on base (29-for-91), while exceling against right-handed pitching this year, batting .341 (61-for-179) with all 20 of his extra-base hits (11 doubles, one triple, eight homers).
Hill, 36, will give the Dodgers rotation a great boost, if he can get healthy. He will be placed on the Dodgers’ 15-day disabled list, and has been on the disabled list since July 18 with a blister on his pitching hand.
Hill had a 9-3 record with a 2.25 ERA in 14 starts with the A’s this year, limiting opposing hitters to a .201 batting average with a 1.09 WHIP. Hill leads the American League (min. 75.0 IP) in ERA and home runs allowed per 9.0 innings (0.24, 2 HR/76.0IP), while ranking among the league’s best in opponents’ average (2nd), WHIP (9th) and strikeouts per 9.0 innings (10.66, 90 SO/76.0 IP).
The Los Angeles Dodgers also acquired right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez and cash considerations from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for right-hander Mike Bolsinger.
Chavez, 32, went 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA in 39 games with the Blue Jays this year, while limiting right-handed hitters to a .245 batting average and posting a 4.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio (42 SO/10 BB).
In nine big-league seasons with the Pirates (2008-09), Braves (2010), Royals (2010-11), Blue Jays (2012, ’16) and Athletics (2012-15), the San Gabriel native has gone 25-40 with two saves and a 4.55 ERA in 292 games (49 starts) after being selected by the Rangers in the 42nd round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of Riverside Community College.
Bolsinger, 28, was 7-10 with a 4.27 ERA in 27 starts in two seasons with the Dodgers in 2015-16 after being acquired from the D-backs on Nov. 22, 2014.
In a third deal, the Dodgers acquired right-handed reliever Josh Fields from the Astros in exchange for minor league first baseman Yordan Alvarez.
Fields, 30, went 1-0 with one save and a 1.65 ERA in 23 relief appearances for the Astros’ Triple-A Fresno this season, limiting opponents to a .192 batting average with a 0.65 WHIP. He also made 15 appearances for the Astros this year, posting a 6.89 ERA (12 ER/15.2 IP), and went 9-10 with nine saves and a 4.53 ERA in 164 big-league games with Houston in four seasons from 2013-16, averaging better than a strikeout per inning in the Majors with 197 Ks in 159.0 innings.
Alvarez, 19, was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent on June 15 out of Las Tunas, Cuba.
To create room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers transferred left-handed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (left elbow tendinitis) to the 60-day disabled list. The Dodgers sent Fields to the minors as well.
Right-hander Ross Stripling was also sent to the minors. Stripling, 26, went 2-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 games (eight starts) in two stints with Los Angeles this season.
Both Reddick and Jesse Chavez have been activated.
By Mike Elliott
Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com