Tigers’ ace Matt Boyd is on the trade block. There’s a good chance he is the best player traded by the July 31 deadline and the Dodgers are no strangers to making a splash.
After acquiring the best player traded in each of the past three deadlines (Rich Hill in ’16, Yu Darvish in ’17 and Manny Machado in ’18), Andrew Friedman will again look for ways to improve what is already a World Series favorite.
They are among the teams showing interest in the 28-year-old left-hander and there are strong cases for and against acquiring Boyd. They could also expand a deal to include closer Shane Greene. With that said, let’s take a look at the case for and against a trade for Boyd.
The Case for Matt Boyd
Boyd is in the middle of a breakout season. He has posted an above-average 3.95 ERA, which would likely improve pitching in front of a non-Tigers’ defense. What’s most impressive is he has struck out 32 percent of hitters while walking only five percent. Boyd has also been above average at limiting hard contact while pitching to a 3.47 FIP, 3.34 xFIP, and 3.02 DRA with 3 WAR in 114 innings. Stats like those make him a legit top of the rotation arm.
Even though Boyd has a career ERA close to 5 at 4.84, there is a good chance his breakout is legit. Over the off-season, he started working with Driveline and made a change in his arm slot that created more depth on his slider. It has become his best pitch and he could continue to improve with advice from a team as analytically savvy as the Dodgers.
Boyd is under contract through the 2022 season so his cost wouldn’t be cheap. But he would be a fixture in the rotation over the next 3 and a half seasons while providing an upgrade now. Even though rotation help isn’t a need this season, acquiring Boyd would strengthen the bullpen in October by allowing the team to use Kenta Maeda out of the pen instead of as the fourth starter.
A pitcher with the talent and team control that Boyd has don’t get traded often, so the Dodgers should try to get him in blue.
The Case Against Matt Boyd
The case against acquiring Boyd is pretty simple. Starting pitching is not a need for the Dodgers so they shouldn’t pay the high prospect cost to get a pitcher who might be a fluke.
As previously mentioned, Boyd is a career 4.84 ERA pitcher who is having his first good season at the age of 28. There is a chance this season has been a fluke and if he regresses, he wouldn’t be an upgrade over any of the Dodgers’ best eight options when they’re healthy. Just last year he was getting lit up pretty consistently.
The Dodgers are also perfectly fine with a playoff rotation that includes Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and one of Maeda, Hill, Ross Stripling, or Julio Urias. Instead of trading all the prospects to get what might be just a small upgrade, they could try to bring in an elite reliever.
Boyd would purely be a luxury and wouldn’t end up making a major impact as the fourth starter in October so the Dodgers should look to fill their real needs.
I would love if the Dodgers acquired Boyd. I fully believe in his breakout and I think he would be even better away from the Detroit Tigers.
Yes, he probably wouldn’t make as big of an impact this season as he would in the future, but he still does help them now. Having a rotation of Ryu, Buehler, Kershaw and Boyd in the playoffs with Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez, Urias and Maeda in the pen is a very strong group. They would still need to bring in a left-handed reliever but that could be the best pitching staff they’ve had in years.
I wouldn’t go all-in for Boyd and he is far from a must-get. Gavin Lux and Dustin May should be off the table and I’d hesitate to include Keibert Ruiz, although the emergence of Will Smith has made him more expendable.
If the Dodgers and Tigers can agree on a fair package to bring Boyd to Los Angeles, it’s a move they should make.