Well okay then. The Dodgers have finally spoken or more appropriately…ROARED. Once again Andrew & Co. has done the impossible and freed up a lot of cash and moved players who were reportedly upset with how they were being played. I will miss all three Dodgers, especially Alex Wood. I know others were very partial to Yasiel Puig and he will be missed. Matt Kemp’s homecoming was well worth it. I can understand why Puig and Wood may have been a bit disgruntled. I am not sure I understand why Kemp may have been upset unless it was due to how he was used in the post season. But it is time for us to move on.
You wouldn’t know this if you read certain other blogs, but this is obviously a precursor to other transactions still to come. Kluber? Realmuto? LeMahieu? Harper? Stanton? Pollock? Any combination? The rumors are rampant. As it currently sits, the Dodgers freed up $16MM in cash and are now $24MM below the CBT threshold. Unless the Dodgers are willing to move others, they cannot bring Giancarlo Stanton or Bryce Harper to LA and stay under the CBT threshold. They could trade for Kluber and Realmuto; they could sign Pollock and DJLM; they could trade for Stanton if NYY kicked in some $$$. They could even sign Harper if they are willing to go past the CBT for one year. But they will do something.
I am sure that the rumors are going to continue until the next step, but for now, let’s take a look at who the Dodgers did acquire in return. Even if it is temporary. It is actually a very decent return prospect wise. 21-year-old RHP Josiah Gray and 20 year old SS/2B Jeter Downs.
Josiah Gray was traded to the Dodgers on his 21stbirthday. I bet this is a birthday he will never forget. Josiah is a converted HS SS who got one college scholarship offer, to Le Moyne College, a very small Jesuit private school in Syracuse NY. He played sporadically as a SS as a freshman but started to pitch in the Hamptons Summer League. For his sophomore year, he continued to play SS but he also became the team’s closer.
In the summer after his sophomore year, Gray decided to concentrate as a pitcher in the Cape Cod League. When he returned to Le Moyne, he proceeded to dominate his competition in his junior year. He went 11-0 with a 1.24 ERA as a first-year starter. Per BA’s pre-draft scouting report, Gray’s fastball sits at 90-95, and he has an average to fringe average slider and change.
Gray was rewarded with being the Reds compensatory balance B pick in the 2018 draft (#72 overall) and proceeded to continue his dominating year by starting 12 games in the Appalachian League, going 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He had 59K’s in 52.1 IP and 17 BBs. That is a better than 3-1 K/BB ratio. He also allowed only 1 HR in those 52.1 Innings. He is probably headed to the Midwest League where DC can follow him more closely, but if his trajectory continues do not be surprised to see Josiah Gray in a Quakes uni before the summer. He does have three pitches that are still developing, so he will continue to get starts, but with his much improving change, BA considers his floor as a high leverage late inning reliever. Gray was the Reds #20 prospect. Where will he land on the Dodgers prospect list? Could Josiah Gray become the Dodgers version of a Kyle Hendricks trade?
One other interesting fact about Gray being selected out of Le Moyne, was the last pitcher the Reds selected out of Le Moyne was Tom Browning. Browning attended Le Moyne from 1979 to 1981. He then transferred as a senior to that other baseball Mecca, Tennessee Wesleyan College and was drafted in the 9th round by the Reds in 1982. Dodger fans can only hope that Gray has a big-league career commensurate with Browning’s.
The second prospect the Dodgers acquired is 20-year-old 2B/SS Jeter Downs. Downs was a compensatory balance A pick (#32 overall). Per BA pre-draft report, as a “HS senior Downs played in many of the key showcase events, but it was at the Area Code Games that he really shined. There, Downs hit two home runs and made one of the best defensive plays of the week in the middle of the infield, showing plus hands and an advanced internal clock. Evaluators are still split on whether Downs will end up sticking at shortstop–in part because he is an average to near-average runner–but he established himself as one of the top hitters in the class with an outstanding spring. As of mid-May, Downs was batting .422/.518/1.000 with 12 home runs and only 10 strikeouts. Downs has a smooth swing; he uses his lower half well and has quick hands and loose wrists. He uses the whole field well and earns praise for his natural timing in the batter’s box. Defensively, while he flashes plus arm strength, some scouts haven’t seen Downs’ arm play at that level on a consistent basis.”
With Gavin Lux, the Dodgers now have two top rated SS/2B in the organization. Drafted out of a Florida HS, Downs was bought out of his Miami commitment. He enjoyed his first full season professionally in the pitcher friendly Midwest League, that included 13 home runs, 23 doubles, and 37 steals. He is a potential 20/20 guy. He is a launch angle student with 33.2 percent fly ball rate and also had a solid line drive rate of 17.5%. He does strike out a fair amount for a middle infielder with a lot of pop ups. He will need to improve on those skills, but he could become another RVS student in refining his swing. Scouts do like his power potential. He is still playing SS but most believe that he is destined to 2B or even CF. Perhaps young Jeter Downs is on the CT3 track. Downs should start the year in RC, and be one of the younger players in the California League.
And just in case you were wondering, yes Jeter was named after Derek Jeter. I know DC will have a lot more to say about these two fine prospects if they both happen to stick with LAD.
It is entirely conceivable that both Gray and Downs will get moved for Kluber or Stanton or Realmuto. It is lot more difficult now to trade Verdugo with Puig and Kemp gone. That would require Harper or Stanton to the Dodgers. So, it could be Downs and Gray plus one of May/White/Smith/Kendall for Kluber or Realmuto. Kluber is my #1 target with Stanton #2. The Dodgers would need to get cash back in the trade to allow them to make other moves. The need for RH bats makes Muncy available and DJLM becomes a possibility. Pollock in CF and Bellinger at 1B and the defense just got better. The Dodgers will get better, we just have to wait and see. There are multiple possible scenarios, and I am sure that all scenarios are going to be sold as absolute over the next few days(?).
So, while we wait for the next shoe to drop, there are still positives to come out of this trade. All one has to do is quit hating on Friedman and look realistically at what they have accomplished. If the Dodgers do nothing with the CBT savings, then I will join all of the naysayers. But if they can turn this into a potential Kluber and Harper/Stanton acquisition, then this was a masterpiece. BIG IFI know. But Friedman has done it before, so I will not say he cannot accomplish big things when he puts his mind to it.