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.
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.
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.