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The LA Dodgers Should Explore Mets Relief Pitcher Seth Lugo as a Trade Target

The right-hander would be an immediate boost and could bring catching reinforcements.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: Seth Lugo #67 of the New York Mets pitches against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning at Nationals Park on May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

It’s no secret the Dodgers are looking for bullpen help and they’ve been connected to just about every reliever available.

While fans will want the big-name acquisitions, there is a chance only one or two of them are traded. If that happens, the cost might be too high and the Dodgers would need backup options. Mets’ reliever Seth Lugo should be at the top of their wishlist.

Lugo, a 29-year-old right-hander, was called up by the Mets in 2016 and he has been with them ever since. Originally a starting pitcher, Lugo transitioned to a bullpen role in 2018 and has become one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball.

In 78 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2018, Lugo posted a 2.30 ERA, 8.73 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 2.97 FIP and held the opposition to a .204/.264/.296 line.

In 46 2/3 innings this season, Lugo has a 3.09 ERA, 12.15 K/9, 2.51 BB/9, 3.22 FIP, and has held batters to a .219/.284/.379 line.

Lugo’s Breakdown and Fit

The best way to explain Lugo’s style to someone is by saying he’s the high-velocity reliever version of Rich Hill. He relies on a devastating high-spin curveball that has 62 inches of break, which is the third-most in baseball.

He pairs his curveball with a “rising” fastball that sits in the mid-90’s that occasionally reaches 97. He also throws a sinker, slider and changeup.

Lugo would immediately fit into the bullpen as one of the Dodgers’ top relievers. He is best utilized in a multi-inning role, which is what the Dodgers hoped Joe Kelly be, or he could take over as the primary set-up man. With three more years of control after this season, he would be a key piece in the bullpen through 2022.

The Cost

Since he still has three years of arbitration after this season, he won’t be the cheapest option available, but they should be able to acquire him without giving up any of the top four prospects.

The Dodgers would likey have to part with at least one prospect in the five to 10 range, but more likely two of them. The Mets would also prioritzie Major League-ready talent, such as pitchers Dennis Santana and Mitch White and infielder/outfielder Edwin Rios. Two of them and another mid tier-prospect or two should get a deal done.

The Dodgers could possibly get him cheaper if they are willing to take on the contract of catcher Wilson Ramos. There is talk that the Mets want to move him but there reportedly hasn’t been much interest. Ramos has an average annual value of $10 million and is signed through 2022, although he has a buyout for $1.5 million after 2021.

How Ramos Fits

If they took Ramos and sent Russell Martin to New York in the deal, the Dodgers would upgrade their bench in a similar way to 2016 when they traded A.J. Ellis to acquire Carlos Ruiz. Even with Ramos’ struggles, he has still outproduced Austin Barnes and Martin. He has hit .267/.345/.396 in 304 plate appearances and just last season he hit .306/.358/.487 in 416 plate appearances.

The bat of Ramos would become even more key in October if they want to start Will Smith. Having Ramos’ bat on the bench would be more valuable than carrying a light-hitting defense-first catcher.

Conclusion

Seth Lugo makes a lot of sense for the Dodgers. A package with Ramos makes even more sense but if the Dodgers want to stick with Martin, they could pay a higher prospect cost to get Lugo.

His talent and team control would help solidify the bullpen over the next three and a half seasons.

He is one of my favorite relief pitcher targets for the Dodgers, along with Jake Diekman and Aaron Bummer.

Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

7 Comments

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  1. I watch the Mets most nights (my JV game prior to the Dodgers’ varsity tilt). The main reason MLB teams are not interested in acquiring Ramos is his horrible defense. Grandal’s issues with balls getting past him were nothing compared to Ramos (9 passed balls, 17 wild pitches). He has also thrown out just 10 of 62 base stealers. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, the team’s best two pitchers, have both requested Tomas Nido to be their regular catcher instead of Ramos. He is terrible defensively and in no way would help a team with title aspirations. Parting with Martin in a trade for him would be reckless in a baseball sense. It would also injure the Dodgers clubhouse chemistry. Catcher is primarily a defensive position. With this in mind, the Dodgers should stick with what they have behind the dish. Ramos also has a contract that calls for $10.25 million in 2020. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Even if means not acquiring Lugo.

    Btw, the Dodgers are first in the NL in runs scored, home runs, walks drawn, slugging, OBP and OPS, and are second to the Coors Field Rockies in batting average.The offense is not a problem at all.

    • Ramos’ defense isn’t good but they could do a pretty good job of limiting his defensive appearances. And yes, they don’t need to upgrade their offense but if they needed a catcher to pinch hit in the playoffs, Ramos would be far and away their best option (assuming Smith is starting by then). For now, Barnes starts most games and Ramos could replace him late if they are losing. I also don’t believe they’d care about clubhouse chemistry with the backup catcher since they made the Ellis deal in 16. They could also keep Barnes and Martin and just use Ramos as a pinch hitter. But still, it’s more about flexing their financial might than anything.

      • Ramos is not worth the money he would have to be paid. The Dodgers are set at catcher for quite a long time. If Ramos came on board, he would take up a 2020 roster spot better used by someone else. For now, the Dodgers have better players to pinch-hit in the late innings at more reasonable cost.

  2. I agree with Patient Zero Ramos is a bad defensive catcher. Pitchers must have the confidence when they throw a pitch in the dirt with runners on that the catcher is going to block it. Otherwise, they are not going to commit to the pitch and get that pitch hammered. A bad defensive catcher is never acceptable especially in the playoffs where every run is important.
    I do like the idea of Lugo. He is exactly what the team needs. I had hoped by now with only 10 days until the trade deadline the Dodgers would have brought up any young reliever they thought could help them, Sborz had issues but there are a couple at Tulsa I thought might be tried out.
    As they are not bringing them up they have no confidence in them so I would trade for Lugo.
    Rios and Peters, Garlick are guys that are up there in rating and are blocked with better talent above them. For a pitcher with several years control perhaps, even a Ruiz as Smith is ahead of him and there are some very catchers behind him in Cartaya and others. I would think that Lux and May are untouchable. But maybe a Estevez who has been rising and is also blocked by talent above him.

  3. Why take on the crappy contract of a Mets catcher when the fresh prince, will Smith, will be ready in 2020?

  4. Stop with the tryouts and talking about picking up someone else’s leftovers! The Dodgers have the personnel to compete. Move Maeda to the bullpen, bring in Urias to the roration. Add Hill to the rotation in September, and sublimate Fergusen, Garcia, and Floro with DODGER prospects.

    Let’s go and stop holding tryouts.

  5. The cost is too high for someone like Felipe V. ? Really!
    No World Series since ‘88 and we are worried about losing a prospect to get an awesome reliever with a great contract. This isn’t Deshields for Pedro. Please. This is a no brainer.

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