The Dodgers needed space on the 40-man roster and cleared two spots Monday morning with the trade of Victor González and Jorbit Vivas to the Yankees. But let’s take a closer look at Trey Sweeney, the minor league shortstop headed to Los Angeles in the deal.
New York drafted Sweeney in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft, 20th overall, out of Eastern Illinois, where he was the first player in school history to be named an All-American and won Ohio Valley Conference player of the year. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed.
Outside of two games as designated hitter in 2023, he has played exclusively shortstop in his three years as a professional, though there was talk of the 6’2 Sweeney eventually moving to another position. He did play third base and some second base during summer league in 2019 while in college.
The Yankees having rookie Anthony Volpe, a year younger than Sweeney win a Gold Glove at shortstop likely hastened the talk of a position change, and it also made Sweeney available in trade.
“I’ll play wherever they need me to, whenever they ask me to,” Sweeney told Mike Ashmore at My Central Jersey in April. “(Versatility), you want to be as (versatile) as you can, so you can have more opportunities.”
Sweeney hit .252/.367/.411 with 13 home runs, 20 doubles, 20 steals, and a 118 wRC+ for Double-A Somerset in 2023, with a high walk rate (13.8 percent) and low strikeout rate (19.1 percent). Both his strikeout and walk rates were the best of Sweeney’s career.
“I think my at-bats have gotten better this year. Getting a full year to experience professional pitching and realize what they do and how they attack your weaknesses,” Sweeney said in an interview with Dugout Station in September. “I’ve been a lot more patient this year. Seeing more pitches helped me grow, for sure.”
Sweeney missed a month on the injured list in Double-A from August to September, and hit .273/.373/.409 in his final 11 games of the season after his return from the IL.
In a case of fortuitous timing, Baseball Prospectus unveiled their top Dodgers prospect list on Monday — more on the full list a little bit later — which gives us the freshest write-up of Sweeney, from Jeffrey Paternostro:
A former first-round pick, Sweeney has never hit a ton in the pros due in part to a funky, longer hand path that has impacted his ability to consistently tap into his above-average raw power—although his swing plane is geared for it. He also has a patient, veering towards passive, approach that can land him in bad counts, although does allow him to garner bunches of walks—at least so far in the minors. Defensively, Sweeney gives the Dodgers an actual internal upper minors shortstop option, although his range is ahead of his arm—not something you’d necessarily guess by looking at his broad, 6-foot-2 frame.
Sweeney was ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the Dodgers system by Baseball Prospectus. Vivas before being dealt to the Yankees was No. 17 in the Dodgers’ system. But he was using a 40-man roster spot and Sweeney won’t.
As a 2021 college draftee, Sweeney will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in December 2024. The Dodgers will have a full season of him in their system to analyze before having to decide whether to add him to the 40-man roster.