Dodgers shake up bullpen
In a three-team deal, the Dodgers traded left-handed bullpen piece Luis Avilan while picking up left-handed bullpen piece Scott Alexander. It has been trendy lately to call Scott Alexander a Zach Britton clone and that is what Fangraph’s Tavis Sawchik went with in his headline.
Travis focused on the upside of Alexander and gave plenty of ammunition on why he’s considered a Zach Britton clone.
In a year marked by fly balls, home runs, launch angles, and juiced balls, Alexander was, by some measures, the top ground-ball arm in the game in 2017. The approach led him to a 2.48 ERA, 3.23 FIP, and 56 ERA- last season over 69 innings. He emerged, quietly, as one of the better relievers in the game.
Among pitchers who threw at last 20 innings last year, Alexander led baseball in ground-ball rate (73.6%). He was one of only three pitchers to post a mark of 70% or greater, joining Marc Rzepczynski (70.0%) and Zach Britton (72.8%) in that small club. And it is Britton who could become a frequent comp for Alexander, thanks to latter’s darting sinker and handedness.
To get the upside of Alexander the Dodgers had to give up something and that something was Trevor Oaks. Oaks was starting depth insurance for the Dodgers for 2018 but for the Royals he will probably slot right into the rotation. This is good for Oaks, so he probably benefits quite a bit from this deal as his major league clock will likely get started in 2018. Many things would have had to go wrong with the Dodger rotation for Oaks to crack it in 2018. Oaks was a nice prospect but he was probably the 9th option assuming the Dodgers made no other deals headed into 2018.
Kershaw, Hill, Wood, Maeda, Ryu, Stewart, Buehler, Stripling, Oaks, and Font. I personally would have had Font in front of Oaks. Suffice to say, the Dodger rotation depth didn’t really take a hit with this deal though I’ve been reading that some felt Oaks was going to have an impact for the Dodgers in 2018. I didn’t see it myself. I guess I’m still a Brock Stewart fan and expect him to be the guy, not the AAA pitcher who missed 1/2 a season. Or I’m a fan of the top pitching prospect for the Dodgers getting a shot before the guy who missed 1/2 a year last year. Or the guy who was the PCL pitcher of the year before the guy who missed 1/2 a year last year. You get my drift.
I think when you can trade the guy who is number nine on your starting depth chart and is not a top ten prospect for someone expected to be the setup man for Kenley Jansen, you have probably made a good trade. I’m glad the Royals took Trevor Oaks instead of Dennis Santana so I’ll be curious to see how the two careers pan out going forward.
By all accounts Trevor Oaks was a good guy, but so is Scott Alexander. I like the deal from all the angles including the prospect they got Jake Peter an infielder/outfielder who I’d expect to slot in between the 15 – 20 spots in the Dodger prospect hierarchy.
The Dodger bullpen currently looks like this:
Scott Alexander, Tony Cingrani, Liberatore, Paredes
Tom Koehler, Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, Ross Stripling, Josh Fields
With Stewart and Font.
Crowded at the moment but spring training usually takes care of a few of those names as arms develop issues that they don’t have in January.
Basically, Alexander has replaced Watson.
Koehler has replaced Morrow.
That may not sound sexy but I wonder if a year from now if it won’t look sexy. I may be too much of a Brock Stewart fan, time will tell.
I’m doing my best to not talk about Julio Urias.