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Dodgers: That Time LA Traded a Rookie of the Year for A Guy Now Out of Baseball

A recap of when the Dodgers traded young star Yordan Alvarez.

There’s no better time to revisit one of the worst trades recent Dodgers’ history than in the middle of a baseball shutdown. At least that’s what the folks over at MLB Trade Rumors thought, as they did an in-depth analysis behind the botched trade.

Let’s go back. It’s the day of the waiver trade deadline in 2016 and the Dodgers are two games back in the division with a 59-46 record. The need to add bullpen depth was pressing, as Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen were the only consistent parts of a pieced together relief core. 

Enter Josh Fields from Houston. The power right-handed arm wasn’t having a particularly good season with the Astros, but he had demonstrated the year before that he was capable of racking up strikeouts out of the bullpen. After pitching to a 6.89 ERA in just 15 appearances, the Dodgers decided to roll the dice. And it worked out fine for over the next couple of years. Fields pitched well during the regular season and only allowed two earned runs between the 2016 and 2017 playoffs, albeit in very limited appearances. 

The problem with the trade was not necessarily that Josh Fields was a complete bust, though he is out of baseball for the moment. The problem is that the Dodgers gave up a huge piece in the trade for Fields in Yordan Alvarez. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Alvarez lit up the MLB in 2019 and almost became a household name.

Alvarez had not yet made his professional debut with any of the Dodgers minor league affiliates prior to his trade. LA signed him as an international free agent in June 2016, and he was traded less than two months later. So to be fair, there was no way of really gauging Alvarez at that point. He was just a teenager when he played his two seasons in the Cuban Leagues with varying results. 

From there, everything just gets sad for Dodgers fans. Alvarez came up with the Astros at the age of 21 and crushed it. He slashed .313/.412/.655 to go along with 27 home runs in just 87 games. The slugger went on to take home the Rookie of the Year award and tore the cover off of the ball during the 2019 World Series. 

So while President of Baseball of Operations Andrew Friedman has made so many good decisions and so few bad ones, this particular one may haunt him for some time.

Happy Tuesday folks. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. Maybe not a great trade, but Alvarez wasn’t going to have a spot to play on the Dodgers. One of the bad things about having a great farm system is you’re going to give up good players at some point.
    Besides, there are many examples of worse trades than that one

  2. Hey Brook, how about that time the Dodgers picked up Kirk Gibson ? The biggest Free Agent in the offseason. Then they won the world series…Probably one of the greatest pick ups in the history of the game wouldn’t you say?

  3. Lets see…Kirk Gibson versus Josh Fields…HMMM! I’d say that’s quite a difference between what was gotten. Me, I would have kept Alvarez just on the numbers and given up someone else, especially since someone must have gone to Cuba and seen him play. But that’s just me…. You win some, you lose some.

    My take is that our illustrious President of Baseball of Opperations is that he is not a great judge of talent since he only looks at numbers. The big players he has traded for Betts, Darvish, Machado, all rentals (well see about Betts) for instance, have already proven their talent somewhere else and have a reputation. Most of the other guys fit a certain profile that he goes by: Cheap, some upside, some potential and ultimately a throw away. And you can see by the results he gets. The only players that have made it in trades thus far and have stayed on have been Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor. Everyone else he has gotten rid of. Joe Blanton… a good year and in line for a raise…GONE. Brandon Morrow… good year and in line for a raise…GONE! Jedd Gyrko…should have never been picked up. Okay guy, no place on the field, GONE. If they don’t come up through the minors where he has control of them and lots of evaluations to look at, then nobody really good will ever be picked up in a trade because he doesn’t know talent without blow-out numbers. Maybe Brusdar Graterol will get to stick. But even he fell into Friedmans lap more or less.

    “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and swims like a duck…It must be a duck.” That is my assesment of Friedman. HE’s a GM because he fits the description but he doesn’t know talent.

  4. Gee, is it me or is this just another really dumb article, as these so called writers have nothing to talk about….Kid was not ever gonna crack the Dodger Lineup…so let’s be happy he found a home with them cheatin azz wipe Lastros….That is the Dodger way…Happy for those who once wore the Blue…(unless they sign as a FA with Frsco)

  5. Alvarez folded in the playoffs so we missed out on nothing. We got plenty of regular season hitters

  6. Remember that one trade when we gave up 3 good players for a once MVP that only spent a few games in Dodger blue.

  7. Concur with these other posters. Losing Alvarez isn’t exactly up there with trading Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShiields.

  8. Not a trade but a steal. The best since Babe went to the Yankees.
    Branch Rickey ‘stealing’ “The Great One, aka Roberto Clemente, from off the Montreal Royals roster as unprotected as
    Walter O’Malley tried to foist him off as injured and unable to compete, but Rickey knew better as he had recently sold the Dodgers to O’Malley and the Brooklyn Trust Company.

    Not only a first ballot Hall of Famer, 3000 hits, .317 lifetime b a, 2 World Series rings, MVP, arguably the best right fielder of the last half of the 20th Century, and that just on the field.

    His life abruptly ended on December 31, 1972 when a plane he chartered to deliver much needed supplies from San Juan, P R to Managua, Nicaragua, which had just suffered a devastating earthquake, crashed into the Caribbean sea immediately after take off.

    Almost 50 years have past and he is still revered as a hero and icon in Puerto Rico an, of course Pittsburgh.

    This from a Dodgers fan who listened to Vin Scully’s first broadcast in 1950

  9. Well, the Astros cheated, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was just a one season performance. And the Astros have a DH, but the Dodgers have that luxury. Alvarez was anyways defensively limited to corner outfield and first base, and the Dodgers have plenty of good hitters, so to find a spot for Alvarez would mean giving up somebody really good. Fields is now out of baseball, but he gave us a reliable bullpen arm for 2 1/2 years, so it wasn’t necessarily no return at all. At the time, almost everybody would have done the trade, and you got to accept that sometimes great deals turn out bad (maybe add in Mookie Betts).
    What about Martinez for DeShields? Martinez made the inner circle Hall of Fame, and DeShields hit .240. That’s what you call a bad deal. Alvarez has only played one season, and plenty of guys have had one good season and then choked it. Next time write about something sensible.

  10. He sucks defensively,we’ll see how he does the second time without cheating,cause Astros cheated ,and Alvarez joined in.Verdugo was the recent mistake.Alvarez not even close in talent to Verdugo.All Astros are mediocre Including altuve they suck.

  11. Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza both are the stupidest trades Dodgers have made and Verdugo will still be a bad trade,if there’s baseball this year and they play 100 games Mookie’s numbers 275 average 8 or 9 hrs,40 rbis,with Verdugo surpassing those numbers face it 2018 Mookie cheated for that mvp he’ll never have another year like that again.Sox won on this trade.

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