On December 10th, 2014, the Dodgers shocked everyone by trading their All-Star second baseman, Dee Gordon, to the Miami Marlins. This has been one of the more controversial trades of Andrew Friedman’s tenure, but it worked out better for the Dodgers than many people think.
In 2014, Dee Gordon had a breakout year for the Dodgers, hitting .289 with 64 stolen bases and 12 triples. Many thought he solidified himself as the Dodgers long term second baseman, but newly hired Dodgers team president Andrew Friedman had different ideas. Just under two months after taking control of the Dodgers, Friedman dealt Gordon to the Marlins, along with Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas, in exchange for Kiké Hernandez, Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, and Andrew Heaney. Heaney was then traded the same day to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. Gordon was obviously the cornerstone of the deal, but the Dodgers got some gems in return.
The trade immediately looked like a failed move for the Dodgers, as Gordon came out of the gate on a tear, getting 50 hits in the first 28 games of the season, tying Rogers Hornsby’s Major League record. Gordon made his second straight All-Star team in 2015, and went on to win his first Gold Glove and the NL Batting Title with a .333 batting average. The Marlins rewarded him with a contract extension worth $50 million over five years.
Gordon started slow in 2016, and then on April 29th was slapped with an 80 game suspension for violating the MLB’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. After an underwhelming 2016, Gordon seems to have gotten back to form this season, but is still nowhere close to his 2015 numbers.
The second piece sent the Marlins was Dan Haren, who was coming off a decent, but less than stellar year in blue. Initially, it was reported that Haren would not play for the Marlins and would like to be traded, but after they decided to hold onto his rights, he reported to spring training for the club. Haren found early success pitching for the Marlins, pitching to a 3.42 ERA in the first four months of the season. On July 31st, 2015 Haren was traded to the Chicago Cubs, who were hoping to solidify the bottom of their rotation for a playoff push. Near the end the the season, Haren announced it would be his last and he retired following the 2015 season.
The third piece that the Dodgers sent to Miami was Miguel Rojas, an infielder most notably known for his play during Kershaw’s no-hitter. Rojas was always known as a defensive ace, frequently coming into games to replace Hanley Ramirez in the late innings. His offensive production picked up a bit in Miami, as he hit .282 over 142 at bats in his first season there while continuing to play solid defense. After an unimpressive 2016, he rebounded in 2017 in a big way, hitting .338 over his first 65 at bats. He is currently on the 60-day DL with a fractured thumb and is expected back around the All-Star break.
What was at first viewed as the main addition for the Dodgers, Andrew Heaney ended up netting them Howie Kendrick from the Angels. Heaney had a decent first season for the Angels, but injuries held him to just one start in 2016, and none so far in 2017. He is currently rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery and isn’t expected back until late this season. While he still has a lot of time to show otherwise, early indications are that the Dodgers made the right call to flip him to the Angels.
Howie Kendrick on the other hand had a solid first year for the Dodgers, hitting .295 over 117 games. He became a free agent after the seasons, but the Dodgers chose to bring him back on a 2 year deal.
The 2016 season was more complicated, as he started the season on the disabled list and Chase Utley had taken his job as the second baseman. Upon his return, Howie began playing some third base and eventually left field, the position he got the bulk of his playing time at down the stretch. However, 2016 ended up being the worst season of his career, but he still made solid contributions to a team that came just a couple wins short of the World Series. In the offseason, the Dodgers traded him to Philadelphia for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. His 2017 season has seen him hit .349 thus far, but injuries have limited him to just 33 games.
Chris Hatcher was viewed as a key piece of the deal for the Dodgers, with the expectation that he would take over the 8th inning role and provide stability that had been lacking for years. He got off to a good start, recording his first career save on opening day of 2015 with Kenley Jansen sidelined but this would turn out to be the high point of his Dodger career, as he has struggled to show consistency for the Boys in Blue. After an average year in 2015, 2016 saw him implode, following more of the same in 2017. He has never been the what they thought they were getting, and with the emergence of young bullpen arms this season, it’s tough to see him getting many more chances. He is currently on the DL with thoracic inflammation in his right shoulder, and it’s unclear what the plan for him will be moving forward.
Enrique “Kiké” Hernandez was relatively unknown to many when he was acquired in this deal, but he changed that quickly. In spring training of 2015, Hernandez showed an array of tools, including his ability to play all over the field and his unexpected power for a relatively smaller player. He also showed his big personality, and quickly became a fan favorite in Los Angeles. He was called up on April 28th, and played 7 positions throughout the season, while batting .305 with seven home runs. Almost as notable was his banana suit that he would wear in the dugout during games, which endeared him to his teammates and fans.
However, 2016 was a struggle for Kiké, who never found consistency at the plate despite having an occasional big game. Part of this may have been the health of his father, Enrique Sr, who was battling cancer. But 2017 has seen a huge turnaround for Kiké, who has been an extra base hit machine in the first half of the season, with 27 of his 38 hits going for extra bases.
If 2017 is any indication, the gem of the trade is Austin Barnes. The 27 year old catcher/infielder is having a breakout season, hitting .284 with 4 home runs and 18 RBI’s through 41 games played. Barnes has been earning more and more at bats after coming up with numerous clutch hits early in the season, and he’s rewarding the Dodgers nicely for their confidence in him.
Expect Barnes to continue to give Yasmani Grandal days off at catcher, as well as get more starts at second base. His bat will always find a way into the lineup if he keeps playing this way, and he may even be in line to contend for the starting second base job in 2018. At the moment, Barnes is coming off a career game which saw him hit two home runs including a grand slam and drive in 7. Those kind of games will be an rare for anyone, but you can still expect more solid play from Barnes moving forward.
It’s tough to give either team the title of clear cut winner of the deal, partially because the young players the Dodgers got still have yet to play to their full potential. With that being said, if Hernandez and Barnes would continue to play the way they have this season and develop further, it would be hard to complain about what the Dodgers got. Dee Gordon may have made the trade look bad in his first season away, but he has come nowhere close to those numbers since. In terms of WAR, the totals of the players on each side is similar but slightly favors the Marlins, although this is mostly because of Gordon’s 2015 season. In time the Dodgers will have gotten the better end of this trade, as Barnes and Hernandez will continue to help the team for years to come.