Evaluating the Trade of De Jong

At first I was surprised that Chase De Jong was traded, but the more I thought about the more sense it made.  Evidently Seattle has been trying to get De Jong for several months.  MLB has De Jong rated as the Dodgers #16 prospect and he was currently likely 12th or 13th on the Dodgers starting pitcher depth chart.  With a low 90’s fastball with little movement, his arm does not profile as a bullpen type.  I see him as a #5 starter.  He’s a workhorse and a great guy, but it was a numbers game.  Like Montas, Cotton and Holmes he was lower on the depth chart and the Dodgers dealt from their surplus.

The Dodgers traded:

Chase De Jong | Rank: 16 (Preseason: 20)

Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
ETA: 2018
Position: RHP
Age: 23
DOB: 12/29/1993
Bats: L Throws: R
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 205 lb.
Drafted: 2012, 2nd (81) – TOR

Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45When the Dodgers made the decision to blow well past their international bonus allocation for the 2015-16 signing period, their four pool slots (used to determine their spending allowance) held little value to them. They traded all of them, sending three worth a total of $1,071,300 to the Blue Jays for De Jong and infielder Tim Locastro and the fourth to the Braves for right-hander Caleb Dirks and outfielder Jordan Paroubeck. A second-round pick in 2012, De Jong jumped to high Class A after the deal and helped Rancho Cucamonga win the California League title.

De Jong is more about polish than power, with his downer curveball qualifying as his lone above-average pitch. He gets good downhill plane on his 88-92 mph fastball, but the pitch lacks life and may not miss many bats at higher levels. His fringy changeup shows some fade and could improve if he used it more often.

De Jong has good feel for pitching and always has filled the strike zone. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher with a career 0.69 groundout/airout ratio, a cause for concern now that Dodger Stadium is playing as one of the best home run parks in the National League. There’s still room for some projection in his 6-foot-4 frame, but unless he adds some power to his pitches his ceiling will be limited to No. 4 starter.

The Dodgers received:

Aneurys Zabala | Rank: 22 (Preseason: 22)

Team: AZL Mariners (ROK)
ETA: 2020
Position:: 20
DOB: 12/21/1996
Bats: R
Throws: R
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 175 lb.
Signed: April 30, 2014 – SEA
Scouting grades: Fastball: 75 | Curveball: 55 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45

Capable of hitting triple digits with his fastball, Zabala has arm strength that can’t be taught. The Dominican right-hander was the definition of a project during his two pro seasons but made progress in his second tour of the Rookie-level Arizona League, recording 10.8 strikeouts-per-nine with a .167 opponents average that ranked third in the circuit among relievers.

Zabala made strides with his heater last summer, sitting at 96-99 mph with an improved downhill plane helped him generate more than twice as many outs on the ground than in the air in the AZL. He complements his fastball with a hard, downer curveball that scouts view as an above-average pitch, and he showed the ability to miss bats with both offerings for the first time in 2016.

Though his stuff is electric, Zabala struggles to harness it within the strike zone, with well-below-average control that has resulted in 5.7 walks-per-nine in 102 1/3 career innings. The good news is that Zabala, who will be 20 for all of 2017, still has age on his side, and it gives him plenty of room improvement in the coming years.

Drew Jackson | Rank: 12 (Preseason: 12)

Team: Modesto Nuts (A Adv)
ETA: 2018
Position: SS
Age: 23
DOB: 07/28/1993
Bats: R
Throws: R
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 200 lb.
Drafted: 2015, 5th (155) – SEA
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 35 | Run: 65 | Arm: 70 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
The younger brother of former Cubs first-rounder Brett Jackson, Drew was known mostly for his defense and batted a combined .184 during his first two years at Stanford. He broke out offensively as a junior in 2015, and the Mariners signed him for $335,400 as their fifth-round pick that June. Jackson made an immediate impact in his pro debut, winning Northwest League MVP honors after pacing the circuit in average (.358), stolen bases (47), on-base percentage (.432) and runs scored (64), but was unable to build on that success at Class A Advanced Bakersfield in his first full season.

A shorter swing helped Jackson make consistent contact and hit for a high average in his pro debut, but he deviated from that contact-oriented approach last season, often selling out in an attempt to pull the ball and hit for more power. His strikeout rate spiked as a result, especially during the second half of the season, while a low on-base rate kept Jackson from truly utilizing his well-above-average speed on the basepaths as he had in the previous year.

Defensively, Jackson shouldn’t have trouble sticking at shortstop, where he profiles as an above-average defender with soft hands, good range and an absolute cannon for an arm that earns him a 70 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. Though he has much to prove at the plate, Jackson’s wheels and defense should make him a big league contributor in some capacity.

It’s really simple:  Where was De Jong going to be used?  Nowhere.  So they traded a Top 20 prospect for 2 Top 20 prospects!  What’s wrong with that?  Jackson is a slick-fielding, extremely fast, rocket-armed shortstop who is a defensive wizard.  Can he hit is the question?  Scouts think he has a future, at least as a backup.  I am sure he will play 2B, 3B and CF as well.

Zabala is twenty years-old and is as raw as they come, but he has something you can’t teach:  A triple-digit fastball!  He’s worth a risk.  He’s at least 2 or 3 years away.  Jackson could be ready next year.  I think this trade makes perfect sense, even if neither player pans out.  It’s a low risk, high reward move.

Here’s the final thing:  If you can better your system and move a guy like De Jong, you do it.  He would not get this opportunity in LA, but in Seattle, he could be a #5 starter before the year is over.  An organization owes guys like Chase De Jong or Jharel Cotton a chance.  I like that a lot.


Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 43 Comments

  1. These are always interesting trades. The players are not on my radar at all. And yet sometimes the players that come our way become key players within two or three years. We could really use some speed on the base paths.

    I am really glad that LA Dodger Talk is back. It will be an exciting year. Maybe this time we can get to the World Series!

  2. I really like this trade. While the Dodgers got less predictable players in exchange for a predictable player, the trade added depth where it was missing and moved depth where it was abundant.
    I have wanted the Dodgers to make trades like Washington did to get Trea Turner from San Diego and the one the Yankees made with the Cubs to get Torres. Jackson might never be more than a utility player but he would be an exciting utility player. If he just concentrates on getting on base and forgets about trying to develop power that apparently is not in his DNA, he could be the Dodger shortstop that takes over for Seager when he moves to third.

  3. Drew Jackson is a very intriguing player who will go as far as his bat will take him.

    Here are the best highlights I could find:

  4. It is never easy losing a player that you are pulling for, and Chase De Jong is someone that I was hoping to see make his MLB debut this year…as a Dodger. But, alas, if he does make that debut this year, it will be with the M’s.
    As I opined yesterday, this is a fair trade. Mark outlined his scouting report, and Chase’s ceiling is back end of the rotation. Chase was surplus. The Dodger farm system is loaded with RHSP, and sadly for me, none of De Jong’s pitching repertoire made him stand out. Scott Barlow and Andrew Sopko are two potential back end rotation types who could step up for Chase in 2017. And if Josh Sborz continues to start, he would probably pass Chase this year. Chase will be missed, but he is replaceable.
    If we look at the organizational makeup, the Dodgers do not have any middle infielder prospects near MLB ready. There is no current SS on the AAA roster; Sweeney/Calhoun at 2B and Culberson/Maggi at 3B. Both Culberson and Maggi can play SS (and have), but they are really utility infielders. Calhoun is going to get the chance to lose 2B, and Sweeney is organizational depth. Taylor or Kike’ will undoubtedly end up as the OKC SS come April. But none of the 6 are viewed as ML every day middle infielders.
    I suspected yesterday that Drew Jackson would start the year in AA, and this AM he is listed as the Tulsa SS. He now becomes the closest to ML ready middle infielder in the organization. He is a speedster at the top of lineup, and a true base-stealer. He has great hands and plus plus arm, but did have 30 E in 2016. I saw him play in Stockton last year, and I remember saying to my wife that the Bakersfield SS looked very smooth. He just did nothing with the bat that I remembered. I have to believe that he will start out at SS, but I would guess that he is going to get acclimated to 2B. He is not Ian Happ, someone I covet, but FAZ was not going to get Happ for De Jong. Jackson is an upgrade at a position of need.
    Aneurys Zabala is the hope to catch lightning in a bottle. He spent the last two years in the AZL as an 18-19 year old (1-2 years below league average) where he was converted to a reliever. He is another tall/lean RH pitcher that has a plus plus FB, with a potential plus secondary pitch. You cannot teach 100 MPH. He is very wild, but control can be taught. If he can harness that fastball, and show off the curve, Zabala could become a high leverage back end reliever. He is 20, so he has time to learn. He is not ready for full season A, so he will probably get held back for extended ST, and then start his year either in the AZL or with Ogden. I would imagine that he will get assigned to whichever team has the best pitching instructor/coach for him, but he does have the tools to get a late season promotion to Great Lakes.
    I do not know whether Friedman, Zaidi, or Anthopoulos engineered this deal, but it has Andrew’s fingerprints all over it. Overall, the Dodgers organization is better today because of the deal. Whether it turns out to be anything special, we will need to wait a couple of years for Jackson, and then a couple more for Zabala.

  5. Nice post again by Always.
    * The Dodgers built up a surplus on starting pitchers, outfielders and utility players. It makes sense they are also looking to take a similar approach and build up a portfolio of infield prospects
    * I liked Chase De Jong. He’s no Urias, I thought he could be a decent starter but I think it’s telling that the Dodgers consider him surplus compared to others in their farm system.
    * Mark mentioned that Dodger stadium is now considered a home run park. That’s news to me. I always heard it was a pitcher’s ball park. However, I have observed that the infamous “marine layer” aka fog that rolls in for night games isn’t as prevalent as when I lived in So Cal several decades ago.

    1. It certainly has evolved to the point that Dodger Stadium has become more of a home run park. As a flyball pitcher, Chase will benefit by pitching in Safeco.

    2. Dodger Stadium is #20 out of 30 in ease of hitting HR in 2016 according to ESPN’s Park Factors calculations.

      Dodger Stadium is the 28th most “hitter friendly” stadium according to Bleacher report (2014)

      According to a detailed analysis in Baseball Times in 2007, Dodger Stadium is the 7th most difficult park to hit a HR (2007).

      Dodger Stadium is NOT a HR park.

      1. ESPN also wrote this:

        Dodger Stadium has been renowned as a pitchers’ park, and while it is one, don’t mistake that for its being a poor home-run venue. It is actually neutral to slightly above average in that regard, and more advantageous for left- than right-handed hitters. But one thing that makes this such a pitching-friendly environment is that Dodger Stadium is the game’s worst venue for walks (0.894 factor); that number means it’s significantly worse for hitters and significantly better for pitchers.

        1. Does the analysis factor in the bullpen roster? Having Baez and Hatcher on the home team would make ANY park a home run park… just sayin.

        2. Acres of foul ball territory now have seats so many foul pop ups that used to be caught are now only strikes and hitters live to swing again. Home plate was moved toward the fences as well a long time ago thus shortening the distance to the fence. And, the mound at Dodger Stadium, while meeting specs, has always had a reputation of being a pitchers mound.

  6. I can’t believe this stupid move. We trade the AA pitcher of the year for 2 guys who will probably never make it. Another shortstop? Another 2B? Stupid. DeJong has a chance to be a ML starter THIS YEAR. And we give him up. I couldn’t believe it when I read it yesterday. What I think is going on is the suits are so enamored with Urias that they can’t see past his potential for a total bust. I still am not convinced all this coddling of him is doing him or the team any good. It would not surprise me if DeJong becomes a better ML pitcher than Urias. Cotton and the other pitchers we gave up last year are also victims of the Urias effect. Let’s keep track of how many young pitchers we give up while we are waiting on Urias. Right now it is at least 4 and counting. Stupid.

    1. I take it that you didn’t like that trade. I will agree that Seattle needed that trade more than the Dodgers. De Jong may be the perfect #5 pitcher. He throws strikes and probably will eat innings. Players will like playing behind him because De Jung’s stuff tends to let players put the ball in play.
      I don’t think De Jong was competing with Urias. He was competing with Stewart, Stripling, Oaks, Wood, May, Sborz, etc.

        1. I guess I was too busy this morning to think enough other than it didn’t sound like Bobbie17. Score card: Bobbie 17 = 1, Bums = 0

    2. De Jong would been a starter this year, right after McCarthy, Ryu, Kazmir, Stripling, Stewart and Wood all went down.

      Urias being a “total bust” is about the same likelihood that Kershaw will be.

      It would not surprise me if DeJong becomes a better ML pitcher than Urias. I would be shocked! Have you ever seen De Jong pitch? He’s a great AAA pitcher, but his stuff at the MLB level is no better than a #5.

      Comparing Urias and De Jong is nlike comparing AJ Ellis to Buster Posey. Not even in the conversation…

    1. Bobbie 17

      No they are working with Calhoun on his defense, and he is getting a lot of personal instruction.

      But I can’t wait, to see what he does with his bat.

      I didn’t realize he hit more HRs in AA last year, then Bellinger did.

      Bellinger hit 23 HRs, and, Calhoun hit 27

      1. Calhoun hit more HR because he had 100 more AB’s. They both averaged a HR every 20 AB’s. The big difference is in OB% and OPS where Bellinger is way ahead!

        1. Mark

          I didn’t know that.

          I just remembered that Bellinger, missed part of the season, after you, said that.

          And I was also suprised that there averages, were not that far apart. either.

          I don’t care about OBA, because players can be taught, to have more discipline, at the plate.

          And I wasn’t saying, Calhoun, was better.

          I was just suprised, that they had some pretty close, offensive numbers.

          But you just said, even with the extra 100 at bats, there HR rate, was the same, so what is the difference?

          I assumed Bellinger was a 300 hitter,
          last year.

          But that isn’t true, because he only hit for a little higher average, then Calhoun did.

    2. Calhoun is getting focused work on conditioning and defense. That tells us a lot about what is holding him back from contributing to the big club. This also kinda relates to the general discussion of why the Dodgers would give up a pretty good innings eater for a middle infield prospect and another less developed pitching prospect. The Dodgers have a lot more depth organizationally at pitcher (and outfield) than at other positions. It would be great for us to debate the chances for a half dozen prospects to play 2nd base or to backup Seager at SS. We have these types of debates on the pitching prospects and the outfielders so it’s clear that the Dodgers have flexibility in those areas. They were put into a tough negotiating position when trying to find a 2nd baseman for this season because they don’t have as much talent coming through the farm system for that position.

  7. I have said it before – Calhoun has “tree trunk legs.” The lower half of his body is huge which is why he is a slow runner. He just does not move well. The Dodgers would love it if he can play even a “slightly below average” 2B, but I don’t see it. Maybe they are trying to boost his trade value, but I do not think he can play 2B on the MLB level.Maybe LF (I have never seen him there) and DH for sure!

    1. Mark

      Those tree like legs, apparently, gives him the power, to have a HR rate, of a player, that is 6″4.

      Calhoun is only 5″8!

      All I said, was that I was suprised, especially with there size, difference.

      1. Man who run in front of car get tired. Man who run behind car get exhausted. – Not Confucius

  8. I like this deal. By giving up a decent arm that was buried/duplicated on the Dodgers depth chart we got back a potential SS or glove first middle infielder, a possible bullpen arm in a couple of years AND an open 40-man roster spot. As Mark says the key to Jackson will be if his bat develops.

  9. Re: Calhoun – he is described as a slow runner by several of the scouting reports that I read yesterday. He also has bad hands, a poor arm, etc. The thought that someone who does not have the athletic attributes necessary to play 2B can play it are probably engaged in wishful thinking. Also, he hit .257 last year – yeah he hit 27 HR, but there are lots of one dimensional players who are never really successful because they can’t do enough things to help a team win.

    Re DeJong: I’ve not seen him pitch. I do think that today’s MLB worships the fastball and the long ball and forgets that there are lots of ways to be successful. I have seen lots of pitchers who didn’t throw hard but knew how to pitch get by with a so-so fastball. And lots of fast guys who threw hard but either had bad control, or only had a fastball, or threw a straight fastball (no movement) that got the poo knocked out of them. I have no idea whether the Dodgers got the better end of the deal or not, but maybe DeJong is a guy who knows how to pitch and he’ll be successful – or not.

  10. A lot of attention/discussion on Drew Jackson, as he is closest to ML ready in a position of need. But I am not convinced that FAZ is not just as pleased with the potential of Aneurys Zabala. Zabala is a wild card. Way too early to make any conclusions, but I do think the baseball people are intrigued with his potential. They have a lot of time and loads of pitching talent ahead of him to see if they can mold this raw pitcher. He is worth following this year.

  11. Don’t mind the move, do not know enough about any of those guys to make a firm decision. De Jong a possible #5? We have plenty of those like many have said, I want to know who the possible #2 is in a few months, I like Hill at #3, I am talking October baseball folks.

    Speaking of Chad Billingsley, retired and another victim of Tommy John, what a year he had in 2008 until he got bombarded in the playoffs, seemed to be all down hill from there, it was a fun ride with him, wish it had turned out better, but good luck in post baseball life Chad.

    1. Urias will be our #2. This kid is special. In Clayton’s rookie year, he gave up 109 hits in 107 IP with a 2:1 K/BB and a 4.26 ERA.

      Urias pitched 77 IP with 81 hits and almost 3:1 K/BB and an ERA almost a point lower.

      I look for Urias to have an ERA in the high 2.00’s.

        1. I’m not saying he’s Kershaw, but he is special.

          I am also very high on Buehler.

          His stuff borders on “ultra filthy.”

  12. I am starting to worry – the Dodgers are not supposed to have a winning record in Spring Training.

    They are ahead 4-2 going into the 8th and if they win they will be 5-1. This can’t be happening. I am not ready for this.

  13. Keith Law on this trade:

    Cedric: Any thoughts on the DeJong/Zabala trade?
    Klaw: I answered this on Twitter by linking to my Mariners report. Zabala is the only real prospect in the deal.

  14. Sounds like a good deal to me. De Jong is probably a fringe prospect at best. The two acquisitions may turn out to be nothing, but it appears that they have raw tools that are worth developing. If Jackson doesn’t hit enough, maybe with his cannon arm he can be converted into a pitcher. I’ve never seen any of these players, so any thoughts I have are based on what I’ve read. That being said, it sounds like a good deal to me since I have serious doubts about De Jong’s upside.

    Haven’t posted in ages. What if I didn’t know that 6-3 = 3. Would I have been barred from this site? 🙂

  15. Welcome back, Brooklyn.
    Yes, we require everyone to be mathematical geniuses to post here.


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