Dodgers Deal for Darvish; Gray Goes to Gotham
July 31, 2017

They don't call it a trading 'deadline' for nothing. Literally going down to the final minute this afternoon, the Los Angeles Dodgers rolled the proverbial dice, acquiring right handed pitcher Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers, in exchange for three minor leaguers. The Dodgers, with a record of 74-31, by far the best in baseball, felt they had to do something to improve their chances of getting to the World Series for the first time in three decades.

Teams had until 1pm Pacific Time to do something. An hour earlier, Oakland A's pitcher Sonny Gray went to the New York Yankees for three highly prized prospects. Gray was the top prize on Deadline Day. Not only is he having a better year than Darvish, he's younger (27), and still has two more years remaining on his contract after this one. The 30 year-old Darvish will be a free agent after this season, and although a power pitcher with elite stuff, is having his worst season in the big leagues.

For a right hander with a 6-9 record and a 4.01 ERA, the Dodgers parted with infielder Willie Calhoun, pitcher A.J. Alexy, and infielder Brendon Davis. Calhoun is the closest to being major-league ready, and the scouting report on him is that he is not a great defensive second baseman, but boy can he hit. He may be hitting in Arlington before too long, and perhaps for a long time to come.

For the Dodgers, it's worth the gamble on a lot of fronts. They didn't part with any of their three top-rated minor leaguers, Darvish figures to have better numbers in the National League, he can fill in for Clayton Kershaw while he's out, and be a great piece at the front of the rotation when Kershaw comes back. If you like strikeouts, Dodger fans can see a lot of Ks with Kershaw, Darvish, Rich Hill, and Alex Wood. Plus, manager Dave Roberts can pick the healthiest out of Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy in that fifth spot. Once the playoffs get here, though, don't expect to see starts from those guys, but they can provide depth in the bull pen.

Speaking of the bull pen, the Dodgers made two other trades today. Before pulling the trigger on the Darvish deal, they sent two minor leaguers to Pittsburgh for pitcher Tony Watson, and Scott Van Slyke and a minor league catcher to Cincinnati for pitcher Tony Cingrani. Both Tonys are left handers. Watson will be a free agent after the season, and Cingrani is under control through 2019. The Dodgers will make the corresponding roster moves tomorrow, but it seems like guys like Ross Stripling or Brock Stewart will get sent down, or a starter like Ryu might suddenly wind up on the DL.

It's an interesting dynamic when it comes to the trading deadline. The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, but still felt the need to get better. They were able to do it without mortgaging the farm system, but at the same time, the guys they got are not having stellar years. Darvish is a great pitcher in a down season, but he can strike people out, and is a great right handed option in a rotation of mostly lefties. It's the opposite for Dodger relievers. They don't have a dynamic lefty, but just picked up two of them. Watson, though, lost his closer's role in Pittsburgh, and Cingrani gave up too many home runs in Cincinnati. In a season where the Dodgers have won 70 percent of their games, very few moves have been bad ones. The Dodgers are hoping for that streak to continue, and with it, a World Series.

The next move?: While the Dodgers have to figure out which players to send to the minors after their three new acquisitions, they also have another major decision to make in the coming weeks. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is about ready to come back from injury, but where will he play? Cody Bellinger could move from first base, but there's no way he's leaving the lineup. If Bellinger moves, it will be to left field, where Chris Taylor has found a home. It's likely Gonzo's playing time will be severely limited, but one solution when Gonzalez does play, is to have him at first, Bellinger in left, and Taylor at second. That leaves Logan Forsythe as the odd man out, but as we've seen time and time again, whatever decision Roberts makes, it will be the right one.

Who's the old dude?: When the Dodgers faced Minnesota last week, one of the starting pitchers in that series was lovable old timer Bartolo Colon. People forget he was suspended for PEDs in 2012, but the 44 year-old is contemplating retirement now, and is struggling with a 2-9 record and a 7.70 ERA. On Monday, though, he gave up a somewhat respectable three runs in five innings, and did not get charged with the loss. Colon has been around so long, he actually pitched against Dodger manager Dave Roberts, and Twins manager Paul Molitor. He's also been around so long, he pitched against Cody Bellinger's dad.

Delayed celebration: It's too bad that Adrian Beltre didn't get his 3000th major league hit on Saturday instead of Sunday. During Saturday's Dodgers-Giants telecast, FS1 would switch live to Texas so we could see Beltre's at-bats. TBS, airing the Cubs-Brewers game Sunday, did no such thing. It's likely their contract with Major League Baseball doesn't allow it, with the network finally showing the highlight about five minutes later. MLB Network was airing the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, so they didn't carry it. The only way to see it live was on the MLB AtBat app—and it was a great moment.

Save the date: It was announced today that Los Angeles will get the summer Olympics in 2028. Hopefully, the new football stadium for the Rams and Chargers will be done by then, and you might even be able to take the bullet train from San Francisco to get there. The latest plan is to have the opening and closing ceremonies at the new stadium, but hold most of the track and field events at the Coliseum, which by that time will be 96 years old.

Oh oh it's magic: Even with the Giants and Dodgers' seasons being polar opposites, it's hard to believe that San Francisco's year would be over in August. With the Dodgers sweep of the Giants over the weekend, and San Francisco's loss to Oakland tonight, the Giants are 35 games back in the National League West. The Dodgers magic number to eliminate them is 22.

View All Commentaries