Tag: Los Angeles Dodgers

Predicting the Landing Spots for Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish

Predicting the Landing Spots for Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish

With the annual non-waiver trade deadline just days away, there are two top-tier players who seem destined to be on the move.  Oakland Athletics starter Sonny Gray has been rumored to be a main target of several contenders, as has Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers.  The two A.L. West righthanders are the top pitchers on the active trade market, and it would be a major shock to see them stay put on their current clubs.  Here are the two landing spots that make the most sense for Gray and Darvish.

Sonny Gray to the Los Angeles Dodgers

Although there has reportedly been major discussions regarding Darvish being traded to Los Angeles, Sonny Gray is much more likely to wind up in Chavez Ravine.  Gray would give the Dodgers another top arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw over the next several years, whereas Darvish would merely be a rental unless Andrew Friedman is willing to pay a pretty penny to resign the Japanese-born starter.  Speaking of Friedman, the Dodgers President was able to reach a deal last summer with Oakland for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick.  The Athletics are surely familiar with the deep Dodgers’ farm system and likely have their eyes set on a few names in particular.  Alex Verdugo is probably at the top of the A’s wishlist but don’t expect Friedman to move his prized outfield prospect.  Verdugo’s advanced approach and impressive .328/.401/.446 slash line at Triple-A Oklahoma City this season should make him nearly untouchable in trade talks.

With that being said, the Athletics would have to expect a major return for Gray given how much Jose Quintana cost the Chicago Cubs.  The package would likely have to be headlined by pitcher Walker Buehler, who MLB.com ranked the 13th overall prospect in baseball.  Buheler, who attended Vanderbilt like Sonny Gray, features a mid-to-high 90’s fastball along with an above-average slider and curveball.  Buehler has demonstrated great command in the minor leagues and could become the future ace of the A’s.

Also joining Buehler would be former fourth round pick Willie Calhoun.  Calhoun has torn up the Pacific Coast League in 2017, hitting 23 home runs while posting a .942 OPS.  The 22 year-old is best suited for the American League, however, due to his lack of proficiency in any one defensive position.  He could play in left field, but he may fare better as a designated hitter.  If the Dodgers were to include another prospect such as Edwin Rios, Billy Beane and the A’s would likely pull the trigger on moving Sonny Gray.

Yu Darvish to the Chicago Cubs for Kyle Schwarber

If you thought the Chicago Cubs were finished making trades, think again.

As they demonstrated last season, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer won’t hesitate to surrender valuable pieces of the future for an immediate return that gives them a chance to win a World Series.  Like in the A’s-Dodgers deal, the history between Epstein and Rangers’ General Manager John Daniels will help this deal come to fruition.

Jose Quintana was a great pickup, but the Cubs’ pitching staff could still use an extra punch to carry them into October.  Yu Darvish’s track record of dominance makes him a top option despite his 4.01 ERA in 2017.  Darvish is only under contract through the remainder of the season, which will make him less costly than Sonny Gray.  Imagine if the Cubs entered the postseason with a pitching staff of Lester, Darvish, Quintana, Arrieta and Hendricks; what team would want to face that Rotation of Death?

Alas, Darvish may not carry the price-tag that Gray does, but it would still require the Cubs to part with a former top prospect.  Theo Epstein likely would prefer to retain Ian Happ for his versatility, but the Cubs would be willing to give up Kyle Schwarber.  In what has been a nightmarish season, Schwarber is hitting just .191 with a .308 on-base percentage.  He does have seventeen home runs, though, and he has been more productive since his brief demotion to Triple-A.  Schwarber still holds the potential to be a fearsome middle-of-the-order hitter and becoming a full-time DH could remedy any future struggles.  Schwarber is likely pressing at the plate as a result of his defensive failures.  Making him a designated hitter would allow the 24 year-old to focus solely on hitting, which is a scary thought.

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Predicting the Biggest Trades to Come

Predicting the Biggest Trades to Come

With the Chicago Cubs acquiring Jose Quintana from the White Sox last week, the stage has been set for a busy trade market as the July 31st trade deadline approaches.  Unlike in recent years, the number of buyers is fairly low, with teams like the Dodgers, Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Astros essentially locking up playoff spots by the All-Star break.  However, expect these contenders to do everything they can to further enhance their odds of winning the World Series.  That being said, here are the biggest trades I expect to come to fruition over the next two weeks.

Los Angeles Dodgers Receive Zach Britton from the Baltimore Orioles for Walker Buehler, Drew Jackson, and Andrew Sopko

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been nearly unstoppable in 2017, thanks in part to huge years from Alex Wood, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, and eventual Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger.  The starting rotation led by Clayton Kershaw has been excellent, and their offense has been dynamic.  Jansen is putting together a historically great season as a closer, and Pedro Baez is another efficient reliever who manager Dave Roberts can rely on late in games.  If they were to acquire Britton, their team would be the best overall in baseball.  Despite missing serious time this year due to a left forearm strain, Britton proved to be one of the best relievers in baseball last season when he posted a .54 ERA in 69 appearances for the Orioles.

Baltimore surely would need a solid return for their closer, and a package headed by Walker Buehler would be a great start.  Buehler has serious upside as a number two starter.  Over sixteen starts between High A and Double A in 2017, the Vanderbilt product has a sub-3.00 ERA while striking out 12.5 batters per nine innings.  His potential could eventually see him become the ace that the Orioles have lacked for so long.  In Drew Jackson, the Dodgers would be trading away an elite defender that could man multiple infield positions at Camden Yards for a long time.  Andrew Sopko has the upside of a number four or five starter, with the bullpen also a future possibility.

Kansas City Royals Trade Scott Blewett and Donnie Dewees to the San Francisco Giants for Jeff Samardzija 

Despite the impending free agency of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain, the Royals are expected to be buyers at the trade deadline.  They currently sit just 2.5 games out in both the American League Central and Wild Card.  General manager Dayton Moore doesn’t have a ton of highly-touted prospects to trade, so he isn’t equipped to make a deal for a top starting pitcher like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole.  However, Kansas City could acquire Jeff Samardzija from the Giants.  Samardzija has been great at eating up innings this season, lasting at least six frames in fifteen starts in 2017.  He would be relatively cheap since a trade would free the Giants of his albatross contract in which he is owed eighteen million dollars annually for the next few years.  San Francisco would likely have to eat some of his salary in order to the Royals to make this trade.

Scott Blewett would headline the return for the Giants.  Blewett is a 21 year-old right-handed starter who stands in at 6’6″.  He has shown promise at times this season, and has the potential to be a back of the rotation starter if he can continue to develop his changeup.  Donnie Dewees has upside similar to Red Sox utility man Brock Holt.  Dewees projects to hit for a decent average with plus speed.  His defense is average at best, but his arm grades out as below average.  He could be a left fielder, or even a second baseman in the future due to his athleticism and offensive profile.

Sonny Gray and Ryon Healy to the Houston Astros For Alex Bregman, Derek Fisher, and A.J. Reed

The Oakland Athletics have already begun trading veterans like Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson away for prospects.  Sonny Gray is the next to go, and the Houston Astros could be a starting pitcher away from a World Series.  However, Houston may have another Athletic in mind in Ryon Healy.  The A’s third baseman is just 25 years old, and he’s got some serious pop and hitting ability despite his substandard approach.  Healy has 19 home runs this season, while holding a .264 batting average, but just a .299 OBP.  Healy could be considered an upgrade over former second overall pick Alex Bregman, the Astros current third baseman.

Bregman and Fisher would headline the return for Oakland.  Bregman flashed solid potential last season after a few weeks of major struggles in the big leagues.  He’s a good defender at third base, and his bat could help him develop into a player similar to Jake Lamb or Kyle Seager, although with less power.  Derek Fisher was briefly called up earlier in this year.  He showed why he was a Futures Game selection in his short stint with Houston.  In just five games, he blasted two longballs and also stole a base.  He is the type of player that the Athletics’ front office covets due to his all-around ability.

A.J. Reed is an interesting piece in this potential swap.  Reed entered the 2016 campaign ranked as the number eleven overall prospect in the game by Baseball America but has taken a serious step backwards since.  In 45 games with the Astros last year, Reed only managed to hit three home runs, and his OPS was under .550.  Houston wanted him to start the 2017 season in Triple A to regain his confidence.  But Reed has only further declined in the minors, hitting just .240 through 85 games.  He has potential similar to Yonder Alonso or Justin Smoak, making him appealing at his current low cost.

Detroit Tigers Send Michael Fulmer to Atlanta For Package Headlined By Ozzie Albies

This trade would come as a shock to many.  The Tigers front office has proven to be reluctant when it comes to tearing down their aging team of veterans including Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.  The Atlanta Braves have been a pleasant surprise in 2017, sitting just six games back of the Wild Card just days after the All-Star Game.  But based on each team’s current situation and future outlook, this trade could make perfect sense.

In Michael Fulmer, the Atlanta Braves would have a top-tier starting pitcher not just for this year, but for the foreseeable future.  Fulmer is under team control for the next six seasons, and won’t reach arbitration until after 2019.  In his two seasons with the Tigers, the 24 year-old has posted a 3.06 ERA and also won the American League Rookie of the Year in 2016.  He leads all pitchers in HR/9 this season, which would definitely come in handy given how hitter-friendly SunTrust Park has proven to be.  With perhaps the deepest farm system in baseball, Atlanta G.M. John Coppolella can afford to part with some pieces in return for a long-term, dependable starter like Fulmer.

The Detroit Tigers certainly would demand a major prospect package in return for their star.  Ozzie Albies is the perfect headliner.  Albies is ranked as the number twenty-five prospect in baseball by Baseball America.  At just twenty years of age, he is hitting .289 in Triple A and he has stolen 21 bases in 83 games.  Albies also has above-average defensive skills and could likely play shortstop in the Major Leagues.  The Braves would also include right-hander Michael Soroka in the trade.  Soroka compares similarly to Fulmer.  He uses a low-90’s fastball and a solid repertoire of breaking pitches to manipulate hitters.  Soroka doesn’t rely on the strikeout as many young arms do, but that hasn’t hindered his development one bit.  The 19 year-old is already in Double A, and he’s been dominating there.  In 17 starts, he owns a 2.37 ERA for the Mississippi Braves and has potential to be every bit as good as Fulmer.

Albies and Soroka would be a great starting point, but the haul for Detroit wouldn’t end there.  Atlanta could also offer slugging infielder Austin Riley.  While he does have a heavy tendency to strikeout, Riley has the power to hit 30 home runs annually at the Major League level.  He could wind up moving to first base, but his defensive skills at the hot corner are sufficient enough for him to stay there.  Add in Rio Ruiz, who has some time playing for Atlanta under his belt, and the Tigers would likely send Michael Fulmer off to the upstart Braves.  In doing so, Detroit would jump-start their rebuild that is years overdue.

Tuesday Takes: Super-Starlin Could End Up in Cooperstown

Tuesday Takes: Super-Starlin Could End Up in Cooperstown

It’s been another fun week of baseball around the league.  The Yankees finally look like the team everyone expected entering 2017.  Their early success has certainly been admirable, but does Aaron Judge deserve all of the credit?  The National League West’s best continue to run rampant on the rest of the league, but is there a pretender among the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks?  Also, All-Star voting is picking up, and it seems like there’s been a significant change in how fans vote.

Castro a HOFer?

The Yankees have been a revelation this year.  The Bronx Bombers were expected to finish around .500.  Instead, they have powered ahead to a 38-29 start, with six of those losses coming in the past week while out west.  The Yankees success is a largely a product of Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks, neither of whom were expected to start prior to Spring Training.  Both players have put together all-star caliber campaigns, but the true Yankees star resides in the infield.

Starlin Castro has fallen into the background since being traded to New York, but he has quietly become a star in the process.  Castro has been a model of consistency on offense since 2011, obtaining at least 145 hits each year.  Don’t look now, but Castro already has 1,235 hits, and is on pace to finish this year with about 1,350.  He’s batting .324 this year, and now that he recently turned 27, he should just be entering his prime.  If that’s the case, Castro will have a shot at 3,000 hits assuming he can stay healthy and continue being productive.  Paul Molitor, who joined the 3,000 hit club in 1996, only had 1,203 hits through his first eight seasons, so Castro has a legitimate chance to join the elite group in the 2020’s.

Who’s Acting Out West?

Who would have thought that on June 20th, the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks would hold the three best records in the National League?  All three teams seem destined to make the postseason since the Chicago Cubs are nine games back of the second Wild Card.  Despite their success, surely one of these teams is a fluke, right?

Wrong.  All three teams have incredibly impressive run differentials, as well as winning records both at home and on the road.  Many baseball analysts have claimed that the Rockies may be the least legitimate team of the three, but that’s up for debate.  Colorado has a much better road record than both Los Angeles and Arizona.  The Rockies have also been considerably better against teams that are over .500.  Their 22-13 record against winning teams is the best in Major League Baseball, while the Diamondbacks are just 14-12 and the Dodgers have fared 16-15.  The Dodgers have also been inconsistent in one run games, going 8-9 in comparison to the Diamondbacks who are 15-6 and the Rockies who are 10-2.  This shows the relative inferiority of the Los Angeles’ bullpen, a factor that could play large in October.

Fans Are All-Stars This Year

After years of ballot-stuffing and inexplicable players winning the fan vote, the All-Star voting has reflected performance more than fanfare this year.  Players like Omar Infante aren’t leading voting at second base as they were in 2015.  Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist aren’t benefiting from playing on the Cubs this year.  For the most part, the voting has been acceptable.  Should Jason Heyward be a starting outfielder?  Of course not, but that’s pretty much the only problem I have with the current National League voting update.  Nolan Arenado should be leading at third, but I’m not going to complain about Kris Bryant leading the pack.  Voting love for Charlie Blackmon, Zack Cozart, and Ryan Zimmerman is great to see considering how well they’ve played this season.

In the American League, the voting has been just as fair.  An outfield of Judge, Trout, and Springer is totally reasonable.  Altuve and Correa up-the-middle is the right choice, and so is Miguel Sano at third base.  Yonder Alonso has put together a great year and it shows as he leads A.L. first basemen.  I’d like to see a little more love for Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison, but they should both receive plenty of consideration as reserves from manager Terry Francona.