As was made known by manager Dave Roberts today, adding a reliever is “definitely a possibility” at this stage for the Los Angeles Dodgers as we approach spring training.
The main issue comes from knowing whether the Dodgers want to actually sign a reliever, such as Tyler Clippard (who comes with no draft pick compensation), or trading for a reliever. Well, it looks like trading for one might be a pretty reasonable option.
The Trade: Dodgers get reliever Brad Boxberger; Rays get catcher Austin Barnes and right-handed pitcher Zach Lee.
Well, that doesn’t seem too bad on the surface. What’s the thought process behind it, though?
Boxberger, 27, led the American League in saves with 41, striking out over 10 batters per nine innings and being selected to the All-Star team. Boxberger’s ability to get out both right-handed and left-handed hitters, and to close games when Jansen needs a day off, would fit in nicely in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
First, let’s talk Boxberger. The right-hander was good last season for Tampa Bay, but way better in 2014 when he was used in the setup role. If you’re worried that he might struggle with lefties, don’t. He’s held them to a .183 batting average in his career. His fastball-changeup combination is devastatingly deceptive, and he just gets guys out.
The price for the Dodgers might seem steep, but it’s really not. Boxberger won’t be a free agent until after the 2019 season, so the cost of the prospects in this rumor by Bowden is really nothing as crazy as it might seem.
Barnes, while being a really good catching prospect, is blocked in the organization by Yasmani Grandal at this point in time. Barnes does have added value as a possible second baseman, but it doesn’t appear as if the Dodgers view him in that light going forward. With him being blocked, dealing him for a proven reliever is doable.
While Lee was a heralded prospect a while ago, his potential has seemed to plateau for now. He’s nowhere near the prospect they had hoped he’d be, but he’s still a good one to have. So, if you can get someone to shore up the back end of the bullpen so that the ball can find Kenley Jansen’s flamethrower right-hand, then you should do it.
This is just one trade suggestion made by one analyst that people might dismiss. But it’s still an interesting thought process. Two prospects, both blocked in the system, for a quality reliever under team control for several years and has a proven track record of being good? Seems like the kind of deal a front office should do if it’s on the table.