Dodgers acquire star pitcher Yu Darvish at trade deadline, add relievers Watson and Cingrani

August 1, 2017

The tea leaves all seem to indicate that 2017 is the Los Angeles Dodgers' year, as the season has been filled with surprise rookie performances and thrilling comeback wins.

Now Dodgers management has shown that they are believers too, as the team went all-in at Thursday's trade deadline in an attempt to win a World Series for the first time since 1988, acquiring star starting pitcher Yu Darvish, as well as two lefty relievers.  More importantly, the Dodgers made these moves without giving up their most prized prospects.

The three trades put the Dodgers, who currently have the best record in baseball, in the driver's seat for a world championship.

The key is Darvish, an All-Star right-handed pitcher and former Japan National Team standout from the Rangers.  In order to get him, Los Angeles traded minor leaguers Willie Calhoun, Brandon Davis, and AJ Alexy.

Darvish has ace-level stuff, as he boasts a collection of breaking balls and off-speed pitches to go along with his fastball.  He has had injury troubles however, including a Tommy John surgery.  He also was hit hard in his most recent outing with the Rangers.

Darvish can step in immediately to fill the void caused by Clayton Kershaw's recent back injury.  When Kershaw returns, the Dodgers will have a strong, four-deep rotation for the playoffs consisting of Kershaw, Darvish, Alex Wood, and Rich Hill.  More importantly, the pitching depth will allow the Dodgers to avoid pitching Kershaw on three-days rest again in the postseason.

Darvish, who turns 31 on Aug. 16, has gone 52-39 with a 3.42 ERA in 122 career starts in five big league seasons with the Rangers from 2012-17, earning All-Star selections in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017. Since making his MLB debut in 2012, Darvish leads the American League in opponents’ batting average (.218) and strikeouts per 9.0 innings (11.04), while ranking among the league’s best in ERA (7th), strikeouts (960, 7th) and WHIP (1.18, 10th).

The 2017 All-Star has gone 6-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 22 starts this year, while limiting opponents to a .225 batting average with a 1.17 WHIP and averaging better than a strikeout per inning with 148 Ks against just 45 walks in 137.0 innings. Darvish has pitched well on the road with a 2.49 ERA (18 ER/65.0 IP) in 10 starts and received the third-fewest run support of any American League pitcher (3.42 RSA).

Darvish was originally signed by the Rangers on Jan. 18, 2012 following seven seasons pitching in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Calhoun, 22, was rated by as the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect and batted .298 with 23 home runs and 67 RBI in 99 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City this year en route to the Pacific Coast League All-Star selection. The infielder batted .283 with 61 homers and 203 RBI in 304 games in three minor league seasons in the Dodger organization after being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

Davis, 20, combined to hit .241 with nine home runs and 43 RBI in 94 games with Single-A Great Lakes and Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this year. The shortstop has a .243 career batting average with 15 homers and 109 RBI in 233 games over three minor league seasons after being selected in the fifth round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Lakewood High School.

Alexy, 19, is 2-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 19 starts with Single-A Great Lakes this year and has a 3-6 career record with a 3.81 ERA in 26 career games (22 starts) in two minor league seasons in the Dodger organization. The right-handed pitcher was originally selected in the 11th round of the 2016 draft.

In addition to Darvish, the Dodgers tried to solve the problem of creating a bridge to closer Kenley Jansen, adding two lefty arms to their bullpen.

First, the Dodgers acquired left-handed reliever Tony Cingrani from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for infielder/outfielder Scott Van Slyke and minor league catcher Hendrik Clementina.

Second, the Dodgers acquired left-handed pitcher Tony Watson from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-handed pitcher Angel German and infielder Oneil Cruz.

Cingrani, 28, has an 11-20 career record with 17 saves (all in 2016) and a 4.03 ERA in 164 games (30 starts) in six big league seasons with the Reds. Since his debut in 2012, he’s limited the opposition to a career batting average of .231, including a .219 average against left-handed hitters.

Prior to the All-Star break, Cingrani posted a 2.70 ERA (5 ER/16.2 IP) with a .213 opponents’ batting average and a 1.02 WHIP in 18 games, before allowing nine runs in 6.2 innings in seven games after the Midsummer Classic. Overall, the Evergreen Park, Illinois, native owns a 5.40 ERA (14 ER/23.1 IP) and has struck out 24 against six walks (4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio) in 23.1 innings this season.

Watson, 32, has posted a 5-3 record with 10 saves and a 3.66 ERA (19 ER/46.2 IP) in 47 relief appearances with the Pirates this season. He has struck out 35 batters against 14 walks in 46.2 innings this year. Since the 2013 season, Watson has been one of the top relievers in the National League, ranking among the best (min. 250 IP) in wins (24, 1st), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.72, 290 SO/78 BB, 3rd), ERA (2.42, 4th), WHIP (1.05, 4th), opponents’ batting average (.227, 7th), opponents’ OPS (.623, 7th) and saves (30, 9th).

Watson has a 31-16 career record with 30 saves and has posted a 2.68 ERA in 450 games in seven seasons with the Pirates (2011-17). He has held hitters to a .223 average, while striking out 380 batters against 121 walks in 433.0 career innings.

Van Slyke provided a power bat off the bench for Los Angeles, but would have seen limited playing time due to the Dodgers roster depth.

In six big league seasons with the Dodgers, Van Slyke owned a .242 average with 44 doubles, 29 home runs and 95 RBI in 355 games. The Chesterfield, Missouri, native, who was drafted by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2005 First Year Player Draft, hit .122 with six runs, one double, two home runs and three RBI in 29 games with Los Angeles this season.

Clementina, 20, hit .370 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 24 games with Rookie-advanced Ogden this year, and has a .275 career batting average in 143 games in four minor league seasons in the Dodger organization. He was originally signed as an international free agent out of Curacao on Dec. 13, 2013.

German, 21, went 1-0 with seven saves and posted a 1.91 ERA (7 ER/33.0 IP) in 21 relief appearances with Single-A Great Lakes this season. In five minor league seasons, he’s combined for a 3-15 with 5.10 ERA in 81 games (15 starts) after signing with the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent on April 18, 2013.

In 89 games with Single-A Great Lakes this year, Cruz, 18, hit .240 with nine doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 36 RBI  and eight stolen bases. In two minor league seasons, he posted a .259 batting average with 27 doubles, six triples, eight homers and 50 RBI after being signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2015.

In order to create room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated outfielder Peter O’Brien for assignment.  The Dodgers also designated infielder/outfielder Mike Freeman for assignment.

By Staff of and news services

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