Sorry I have been missing in action the last few days. I am on vacation this week, but today is kind of a relax day for us at the NJ shore....no beach, no golf, just hanging out. That gives me time to offer you my thoughts on the trades that happened, or supposedly happened as some haven't been made official by the teams involved. Like the Winter Meetings last year, the Dodgers are putting together trades that make no sense for the other teams involved except for the Dodgers. As a Dodgers fan, I have to say the new front office lead by Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi have done a wonderful job rebuilding their farm system and adding depth to the big league club, and that didn't change on Wednesday.
it was reported yesterday morning that the Dodgers had traded three minor league pitchers - Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo - to the Marlins for Mat Latos, Michael Morse and a competitive balance pick in the 2016 MLB draft. The Dodgers would take on the salaries for both Morse and Latos, so this was just another example of the Marlins dumping salary after not meeting preseason expectations. The deal was not finalized initially and some felt that the deal would fall apart, but late yesterday afternoon - early evening, it was reported that the Dodgers had a third team, the Braves, involved in the trade which always complicates matters.
I was on the boardwalk with my family and wife's relatives when news began to break that the Dodgers would land a young starting pitcher in the deal. I assumed either Alex Wood or Shelby Miller was the pitcher involved. Later on it was reported the Braves prospect Jose Peraza, closer Jim Johnson and reliever Luis Avilan were in the deal as well. I told a few friends that if all this were true, that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig had to be involved in the deal, especially after reading earlier in the week that the Dodgers had made him available in the right deal. I don't want to see Puig leave LA, but if the return was fair, I wouldn't balk at it, as a fan. I have said since spring training that Puig was being overvalued in preseason ADP rankings and experts drafts.
So, here is the deal, assuming it becomes official today:
Marlins get: Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo
Braves get: Hector Olivera, Paco Rodriguez, Zachary Bird, 2016 competitive balance pick
Dodgers get: Mat Latos, Michael Morse, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza
Marlins fantasy impact
The Marlins dumped salary in this three team trade and received three pitching prospects I have never heard of. Maybe one of them becomes a big leaguer, maybe all three make the big leagues, but none were well regarded in the Dodgers farm system as far as I can tell.
You can read John Sickels thoughts on these three pitchers in the article linked below:
Braves fantasy impact
Like I said, I was surprised that Puig was not involved in the deal, but another Cuban player Hector Olivera. Now that we know that the Braves are only taking on about $31 million of Olivera's $62 million contract, it makes sense that they wanted him in the deal. Olivera is an excellent power bat and will probably slot in as the Braves starting third baseman once the deal is finalized. The 30 year old Olivera should be picked up in all leagues as he should provide power and batting average to fantasy rosters as soon as he is healthy and gets back into playing shape after missing over a month with a hamstring injury.
The Braves also get lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez who is currently on the disabled list after having surgery to remove loose bodies on his elbow, and is assumed to be out for the season. When healthy, he is a solid lefty out of the pen, and should be the Braves first lefty out of the pen in 2016 and beyond. He has little fantasy impact.
The Braves lose closer Jim Johnson in this deal as well, so my assumption is that Arodys Vizcaino will take over the closer role. Vizcaino has given up just one earned run in 10 appearances, covering 9 innings, since he promotion from AAA. He is striking out a batter per inning, but has had some control problems. If he is available in your leagues, and I assume he is, grab him as several Braves beat reporters have stated he would close once Johnson was traded.
The Braves also receive Dodgers High A pitching prospect Zachary Bird, who is 5-7 with a 4.75 ERA, 4.17 FIP and averages a strikeout per inning, but is also walking nearly five batters per nine as well. Here is what John Sickels from Minor League Ball wrote about him earlier today:
Zachary Bird, RHP, Dodgers to Braves: A ninth round pick from a Mississippi high school in 2012, Bird currently has a 4.75 ERA with a 95/48 K/BB in 89 innings in High-A with 74 hits allowed. Age 21, Bird has one of the highest ceiling arms in the Dodgers system but is still working on consistency and general command. He has plenty of arm strength with a 93-95 MPH fastball (he has hit 98-99 on his best days) but his secondary pitches remain erratic and he is still working on his mechanics.
If Bird comes together as scouts hope he could be a fine number three starter but considerable development work is still needed.
The Braves get another high celing pitching prospect with some questions about whether he can reach that ceiling. That said, John Hart has done a great job stocking the Braves farm with pitching prospects. They may not all reach the big leagues, but the more pitchers you have the better the odds of one of them turning into a solid big league contributor.
Dodgers fantasy impact
With the injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu earlier this season, it was inevitable that the Dodgers would look to deal for at least one or two starting pitchers to replace them. To date, they used a combination of Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Brandon Beachy and others as their fourth and fifth starters, but needed upgrades at those spots to make the playoffs or win the division. The addition of Latos and Wood certainly improve their chances. Latos is a free agent at the end of the season and is well known for not being clubhouse-friendly and being injury prone, but he has pitched better since his return from the disabled list.
FanGraph's Jeff Sullivan posted this table yesterday in his article where he posted his thoughts on the Dodgers-Marlins trade:
A couple months back, Latos went on the disabled list with a knee problem. You're going to see a table. We've got Mat Latos from 2012 - 2013, Latos from 2014 through early 2015, and Latos since he came off the DL. There's promise, here.
Version of Latos ERA- FIP- xFIP- K-BB% SwStr% Strike% Fastball Latos, 12-13 85 88 96 14% 10% 66% 92.6 Latos, 14-early 15 110 95 107 11% 8% 65% 90.6 Latos, post-DL 15 78 90 84 19% 12% 68% 92.1
The table shows that Latos has pitched better since coming off the DL, but how he performs in a Dodgers uniform is to be determined. The Dodgers front office utilize plenty of advanced statistics, so I assume they saw the same thing that Sullivan saw when looking to deal for him.
i assume Latos is owned in most leagues, but if he is available on your league waiver wire, I would take a chance at picking him up with the hope that he can continue pitching with increased velocity and swinging strikes.
The Dodgers also added Braves starting pitcher Alex Wood who they can control for the next four seasons, so he looks to be a starter in the Dodgers rotation for at least the next several years. Wood has had an up and down season in 2015, going 7-6 in 20 starts, with a 3.54 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and a 1.41 WHIP, which is well below league average. His strikeout rate has dropped from 25% in 2014 to 18% this season.He has struggled in the month of July, but has pitched well in his last two starts, giving up just three earned runs in 14 innings of work. Like Latos, he should be picked up in all leagues where he is available.
I missed the chance to pick him up in the UBA NL - only league last season, but wish I would have pulled the trigger. I thought he could be flipped to the Tigers for David Price, but that didn't happen, as the Blue Jays just traded for Price, giving up pitching prospect Daniel Norris, Jairo Labourt and Matt Boyd.
In addition to Latos and Wood, the Dodgers also improved their bullpen with the additions of Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan. I assume Johnson will slot in as the Dodgers set up man, while Avilan will be another lefty out of the pen. Neither have much fantasy impact unless you play in leagues where holds are a statistical category.
The final piece the Dodgers received is infield/outfield prospect Jose Peraza. The fact that he was added to the deal is very surprising to me. He was one of the Braves top prospects before the season started, and some felt that the Braves soured on him this season, even moving him to center field after seeing Jace Peterson perform so well at second base this season. He could be the Dodgers second baseman of the future, assuming they don't re-sign Howie Kendrick this offseason. I doubt they do sign him long term, as they will probably offer him a qualifying offer and take the draft pick as compensation from whatever team that does sign him. He is probably already owned in most dynasty and keeper leagues, but if he is somehow available, I recommend grabbing/bidding on him, as his speed should he his most valuable fantasy skill.
Here is what Sickels wrote about him earlier:
Jose Peraza, INF-OF, Braves to Dodgers: The best-known traditional prospect involved, Peraza is a 21-year-old Venezuelan hitting .294/.318/.379 in 96 games for Gwinnett in the Triple-A International League. He doesn't have huge power or much patience but he makes contact, is an effective basestealer (26 steals this year, 203 in his minor league career), and draws praise for his defense up the middle. The Braves used him mainly at second base and center field this year but he had a good reputation as a shortstop before shifting positions to accommodate Andrelton Simmons.
i am not sure what the Dodgers will do with first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse, but if they should trade Alex Guerrero in the next 27 hours, Morse would be a right-handed power bat off the bench. Guerrero has previously indicated he would consider waiving his opt out clause if he is traded to a team that will guarantee him playing time.
I can see the Dodgers dealing Guerrero eventually, so he is a speculative add at this point. Morse's fantasy value takes a hit as he is just a bench bat now.
I will do my best to get to the other deals later this week, but vacation calls for now. That said, I think the Phillies received a great haul in the Hamels deal. The Cardinals dealt pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky to the Indians for first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss earlier this morning. With the quad injury to Matt Holliday, the Cardinals acted quickly to replace him, but the Indians received an excellent pitching prospect in return.
Finally, the Blue Jays traded for ace David Price this morning, which should solidify their rotation for a wild card/playoff push. The cost was pitching prospects Daniel Norris, Jairo Labourt and Matt Boyd. Norris and Boyd have already reached the big leagues this season, with Norris having the highest ceiling.