If Dodgers fans would have been told at the start of the month that their team would be the winners of the offseason, they would have likely bursted into laughter.
Though the offseason had yet to conclude, it was a forgetful one for the Dodgers and their fans. Over the course of a few months, they struck out on the biggest names in the free-agent market, they lost fan favorites in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill, and oh by the way, it was announced that the Astros cheated during their 2017 World Series run.
It was a brutal couple of months, to say the least.
Then, last week, the Dodgers appeared as if they finally had something go their way. It looked as if the baseball Gods were finally on their side. On February 4, the Dodgers and Red Sox agreed to a deal that would send Mookie Betts to Los Angeles. In the three-team trade with Minnesota, the Red Sox would receive Alex Verdugo from LA and a prospect from the Twins, with the Twins receiving Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. Along with Betts, David Price would be heading to Los Angeles as well.
As you all know, that trade slowly fell apart after the Red Sox found a “medical issue” with prospect, Brusdar Graterol. The Twins then reportedly were backing out of the three-team deal, and all of a sudden, a trade that rejuvenated life into LA, looked as if it could potentially fall apart.
After the city of Los Angeles eagerly welcomed Betts with open arms, it slowly was looking like the Dodgers would take one final detrimental blow to a disastrous offseason.
However, the Dodgers got the Hollywood ending they so desperately needed. They restructured the deal with Boston, worked out a different trade with Minnesota, ultimately landing them Betts, the piece they coveted.
It’s not every day you can just acquire the second best player in baseball. Usually they are locked in with a team for years, or it’ll take breaking the bank to sign them in free-agency. The Dodgers didn’t have to do that. Sure, they traded away some young pieces that can potentially be great. But, will they ever be as good as Betts? Probably not.
So yes, acquiring Betts is a massive win for the Dodgers, and would’ve won them the offseason anyway. However, the other names they added to the team were just the icing on the cake.
If you’re familiar with baseball, or have read some of the latest articles here at TBLA, you already know how good Betts is. Former MVP, Gold Glove Award winner, Silver Sluggers, All-Star appearances, yada, yada, yada. He’s really good, so I won’t go in-depth on why he’ll make the Dodgers a whole lot better.
What I will go in-depth on, is how the other additions they made will greatly impact the Dodgers in not only 2020, but for the foreseeable future as well.
Let’s start with the other player coming from Boston, David Price.
Yes, this trade will be centered around and will always be known as the Mookie Betts trade, but don’t forget that the Dodgers also are picking up a former Cy Young Award winner and five-time All-Star starting pitcher in Price.
Yes, I know, he isn’t the pitcher he was a decade ago. But that’s okay, the Dodgers don’t need him to be whatsoever.
Price will be entering his age-34 season, and is coming off probably the worst season of his career. He went 7-5 with a 4.28 in 22 starts. His numbers were down, but for good reason. All season he battled a number of injuries. Early in the season he was placed on the injured list with left elbow tendinitis, which sidelined him for a couple of weeks. Price then missed a month with a left wrist TFCC cyst.
Just by looking at his first and second half splits, you can clearly see that there was something wrong with him. During the first half of the season, Price made 16 starts, going 7-2 while posting a 3.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The second half was an entirely different story, as he went 0-3 with a 7.88 ERA and 1.91 WHIP in six starts.
Overall, here’s how Price ranked last year on the mound.
As you can see, the only number in the “great” range was his strikeout percentage. Price had a strikeout percentage of 28 percent last season, the best of his career. He had a strikeouts-per-nine of 10.7, which was also the best of his career as well.
While in Boston, Price had very high expectations, and deservingly so. He was making over $30 million a year, and wasn’t pitching up to the standards that come with that contract. Now, he gets a change of scenery, and will likely be LA’s No. 3 option in the rotation.
Prior to last season, Price was having a fairly respectable campaign with the Red Sox. From 2016-2018, he went 39-19 with a 3.74 ERA, posting a WHIP of 1.18, a FIP of 3.76 and an ERA+ of 119. Not ace numbers by any means, but if the Dodgers can get a line similar to that, they’ll be more than happy to take it.
A week ago when the Dodgers traded for Price the first time, I put together this little montage of his best pitches from 2019.
Not to be lost in the Mookie Betts move, the Dodgers adding David Price could be huge— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) February 5, 2020
Through his first 11 starts last season he was 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA, held opponents to a .632 OPS. Injuries ruined his 2nd half, but finished 2019 with 3.73 xFIP, 113 ERA+, 4.00 SO/BB ratio pic.twitter.com/HMUeyTRsCz
I know, it’s a highlight video, so everything is going to look good. But I really think Price can be a contributing factor for the Dodgers’ starting rotation in 2020. Again, they won’t be expecting an All-Star type season from him, but if he can give them 25 starts and keep that ERA right around 4.00 or below, I think they’ll gladly take it.
He’ll be in a pitchers friendly ballpark, and will have a change of scenery, so I honestly wouldn’t be shocked to see Price revert back to the pitcher he was years ago, and maybe make a campaign for the 2020 All-Star Game.
With the losses of Ryu and Hill, the Dodgers really needed to add another lefty to the rotation. Yes, I know Julio Urias is there, but with Price they are getting an experienced and reliable veteran, with postseason experience on top of that.
The next piece, and arguably the most exciting piece LA is getting back is Brusdar Graterol. Yes, I know, Betts is a way more exciting player to watch, but the Dodgers and their fans have to be eager to see if Graterol can be used to his full potential.
A top 100 prospect in baseball, Graterol only appeared in 10 games with the Twins last year, so his sample is very small. However, his sample is enough to excite baseball fans across the country.
In his brief time in the majors, he posted a 4.66 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He struck out 10 in 9 2⁄3 innings, walking only two.
What has many people excited about Graterol is his stuff. He can throw 100+ mph with movement. Here are only four pitches, but for crying out loud, look at this movement!
Brusdar Graterol's stuff. pic.twitter.com/Z1ZZdW9CNU— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 9, 2020
He’s very raw, and only 21 years old. But, as we’ve seen in years past, the Dodgers and their pitching coaches have the ability to work with different pitchers and enhance their skills. I’m not exactly sure where he fits in for 2020, or if the Dodgers plan on having him as a starter or reliever quite yet.
However, he definitely will be pitching in the majors this upcoming season, and has the chance to be a key contributor for the bullpen come October.
This is a HUGE what-if, but can you imagine if Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen return to versions of themselves from a few seasons ago, AND Graterol can develop into a reliable reliever? This has a chance to be a lights out bullpen.
Losing guys like Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Kenta Maeda is unfortunate, but the Dodgers essentially upgraded their team in every aspect with this deal. They improved their starting lineup, their starting rotation and their bullpen.
The Dodgers won a franchise-best 106 games last year. It seemed crazy that they could somehow get even better... but I think it’s safe to say they did.