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So, the Dodgers are good.
The Los Angeles Blue Guys are on pace for a 115 win season, something we haven’t seen since the 2001 Mariners or 1998 Yankees in terms of absolute dominance. They have a rotation that places Alex Wood and his 2.37 ERA third and a lineup that boasts four of the best hitters in the NL right now according to OPS+. It’s silly and stupid and annoying. The Dodgers are so good that I honestly get shocked when they lose, which doesn’t happen often so I’m rarely surprised. I would welcome nuclear winter if it meant I didn’t have to see this team go undefeated in the playoffs or something.
Anyway, whenever a team is this good, we need to ask the question: how did they get here?
For the Dodgers, they got here in several ways. Mostly, they got here through scouting and money. Not a lot of teams could pay Carl Crawford’s salary for him to play elsewhere. But they could. That is a big part of this.
But the Dodgers also got here through one very specific way that I would like to discuss: they got here by fooling other teams. I don’t know if everyone else is stupid or what, but the Dodgers tricked just about everyone they could in order to get here with players that are lighting up the league. Let’s analyze:
Acquired for: Hector Olivera, Paco Rodriguez, and Zachary Bird
Back in 2015, the Dodgers were in the business of duping teams on the regular. They had just finished moving a declining Matt Kemp to San Diego for Yasmani Grandal and now were ready to swindle the Atlanta Braves. Alex Wood was a good pitcher, the Braves were looking to cash in on the prospect profile of Olivera who had just signed with the Dodgers in May for a ridiculous amount of money (A $56m signing bonus on top of an $8.5m five year deal). Turned out, Olivera busted, never showing up at the plate and later getting arrested, charged, suspended, and sentenced to jail time over a domestic violence incident. The Braves had to eat half of that $56 million signing bonus and trade Olivera to San Diego just to rid themselves of him.
Paco Rodriguez had Tommy John surgery, the Braves never saw him at the major-league level, and Zachary Bird was left unprotected and taken by the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft.
Basically, the Braves gave up an All-Star for two players that never saw the field for them and Olivera who they wish hadn’t.
On the Bad Trade Scale we rate this as THREE NED COLLETTI HEADS.
Acquired for: Zach Lee
Uhhhhh hahaha. This one is a big fat joke, right? Chris Taylor might just be in the middle of a crazy lucky, special season. His BABIP is .400 which is ludicrous and absolutely impossible to sustain.
But, even with this ludicrous BABIP, Chris Taylor has provided 3.9 WAR to the Dodgers season and that cannot be overstated enough. It’s a ridiculous swindle. It’s millions of dollars of value the Dodgers acquired for a guy who has barely pitched 12 innings in the majors.
Zach Lee never saw the Majors with the Mariners and now sits floundering in the Padres system which is being renamed the NL West Island of Misfit Pitchers because they somehow all end up there.
Whatever Taylor regresses to, even if he doesn’t even sniff another 4 WAR year, the Dodgers robbed a train here. Lee won’t even contribute 1/10th of that value.
On the Bad Trade Scale we rate this as TWO AND 1⁄4 NED COLLETTI HEADS
Acquired For: Matt Kemp ($32m of his contract)
The Dodgers were nice enough to cover 1⁄3 of the Matt Kemp contract when they shipped one of the worst defending outfielders to the Padres in the winter of 2014. At the time, it looked like the Dodgers were just freeing up space for their young guys and the Padres were looking to make a run. That...didn’t work out.
Don’t get me wrong, Matt Kemp can still rake. The guy hit for steady pop even in the unfriendly confines of PetCo. But he can’t play defense and the National League makes you play defense. The Padres also tanked and the 2015 paper champions were left cold and forced to rebuild. They moved Matt Kemp to Atlanta for Hector Olivera (time is a flat circle) to save themselves from paying the rest of Kemp’s salary and from attempting to watch Kemp play outfield.
Grandal on the other hand has been an excellent contributor for the Dodgers since 2015. One of the best framing catchers in the league, Grandal has also been good enough at the plate the last three years to make him worth over six wins during his time as a Dodger. Grandal’s contributions to LA have been a key part of making their lineup almost weakness proof and also rid them of about $70 million in salary (money they used to pay Carl Crawford to do nothing and free up their outfield some more).
On the Bad Trade Scale we rate this FIVE Ned Colletti Heads (Due to the Padres 2015 faceplant)
The Dodgers have used their money to cover their mistakes and their development and scouting to create elite homegrown players. But would they be as good if they hadn’t Shanghai’d three very good players for next to nothing in value? Probably not. You don’t get to 81-33 with just elite drafting and development, you don’t just get get there with oodles of money, you do get there with some very good moves against some very under prepared organizations.
Please, Major League Baseball, you have to stop answering the phone when Andrew Friedman calls. The Rockies would appreciate it.