The Los Angeles Dodgers front office led by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi made a complex three-team, 13-player deal ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline that landed the Dodgers four Major League pitchers (two starters, two relievers) and one of the best middle infield prospect in baseball in Jose Peraza.
In the trade the Dodgers acquired starter Mat Latos from the Miami Marlins, starter Alex Wood and relievers Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson from the Atlanta Braves. Zaidi discussed the trade, explaining talks began with the Marlins for Latos as his recent success led the Dodgers to inquire about him.
“It was really over the last month or so coming out of the All-Star break where his stuff and performance seemed to take a step forward,” Zaidi said. “He’s a guy when he’s at his peak, I think he’s one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. He’s had three good starts this month, has a 1.80 ERA. There are some people in our organization that have some experience with him obviously and obviously he has some experience in this division and knows the parks and players well.”
Latos was with the San Diego Padres during during the same period of time Dodgers senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes was the Padres general manager. Coincidentally, Byrnes traded Latos to the Cincinnati Reds for a package that included Yasmani Grandal.
While not one of the aces who was available, Latos figures to provide some stability to the rotation. “The ability and being a big, physical guy, we feel good about his chances to maintain and get stronger down the stretch,” Zaidi said. “That was important to us, targeting guys that had the durability to impact the second half of the season and the playoffs.”
The 27-year-old is a free agent at the end of the season, and with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy expected to return at different points next season, Latos is likely a rental for the remainder of 2015.
Wood, on the other hand, is just 24 years old and won’t become a free agent until 2020, something Zaidi said was a reason in targeting Wood. “A lot of that came out of canvasing the league for players that we would have beyond 2015,” he said.
“A lot of conversation has happened about how we’re going to have a rotation in flux this offseason with a couple players either being free agents or having the option to go into free agency. So I think in the back of our minds we always had the notion that adding one cost control starting pitcher, particularly if the second add was a rental, that kind of worked well together.”
Zaidi also added Wood’s style of pitching falls in line with what the Dodgers seek. Latos allowed one run over six innings in his debut Sunday. With the off day Monday, the Dodgers next play Tuesday in Philadelphia, which is a game Wood is slated to start, making his debut with a new team.