The best team in MLB lands Darvish

Now that the big story of the day for the Dodgers is out of the way, we found out about 15 minutes after the deadline has passed that the Dodgers had traded for Yu Darvish, formerly of the Texas Rangers.

Darvish to the Dodgers has been one of the biggest stories in the MLB for weeks now. It was underscored even further once Kershaw went down with a back injury a week ago. Many people believed the move was all but done, and the teams just had to come together on a price both deemed fair.

Until seemingly seconds before the trade deadline, Texas seemed mesmerized by Dodgers OF prospect Alex Verdugo, and did not want to complete a Darvish deal without him. However, it seems the thought of losing Darvish to free agency after this season and getting a post-third round draft pick for him motivated Texas to get a deal done.

Prospects Going to Texas

 2B. Willie Calhoun – MLB.com #69 Top 100 Mid-Season Prospect

Calhoun was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 draft from a division two school, after leading all of division two in home runs that season. He was a fast riser, starting in Rookie Ball, then going to A Ball, and finishing 2015 in A+ ball. His bat shined at all 3 levels, with a 124 wRC+, 174 wRC+, and then a 152 wRC+ at each level. This earned him a promotion to AA to start 2016 where he hit .254/.318/.469 with 27 HR and a 123 wRC+. While the numbers were down

This earned him a promotion to AA to start 2016 where he hit .254/.318/.469 with 27 HR and a 123 wRC+. While the numbers were down from his first pro season, scouts still loved his bat, though hated his fielding.

In 2017 he was promoted once again, this time to AAA just a step from the major leagues, and he has done nothing but hit with a line of .298/.357/.574 with 23 HR and a 131 wRC+.

Everyone has known that Calhoun can hit, but fielding was always the problem. Most scouts didn’t believe that he could ever be an MLB 2B with the Dodgers. This is why Calhoun being the centerpiece of a deal to an American League team like the Rangers fits him perfectly. I would not be surprised to see Calhoun debut with Texas within the next month, or with September callups at the very latest.

SP. AJ Alexy

AJ Alexy was drafted by the Dodgers just last season in the 11th round. He started off slow in Rookie Ball in 2016 with a 4.61 ERA and 5.15 FIP in 13.2 innings pitched. He was moved up to A Ball for the 2017 season, and has done quite well pitching to a 3.67 ERA and 3.49 FIP, while striking out 10.51 per 9 innings.

David Hood at Truebluela.com ranked AJ Alexy tied for 20th on the Dodgers Mid-Season Top 20 Prospects list, saying “The young right-hander has shown polish beyond his years, with a riding fastball and sharp slider/slurve breaking ball. He needs more velocity, but he’s developing ahead of schedule.”

 

IF. Brendon Davis

Brendon Davis was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 draft, just a round after Calhoun, by the Dodgers. To this point in his career, the best offensive season he has had was a 118 wRC+ while hitting .245/.357/.403 in 86 games last season in A Ball. However, he is still only 20 years, and is a very athletic player. Davis is more of a lottery ticket at this point than someone Texas will sell to their fans as a big return in this deal.

David Hood had him as 21st overall Dodgers prospect on his Pre-Season Top Prospects list, liking his soft hands, smooth fielding, and raw power potential.

While Texas was not able to land Alex Verdugo like they had hoped, this is still a very solid return for a rental like Darvish. By taking a headliner of Willie Calhoun, just a step away from the majors and someone who should play very well in Arlington, a good but far away young pitcher in AJ Alexy, and a wildcard in Brendon Davis, they have easily beat the value they would have gotten with the remaining two months of Darvish and a draft pick next season.

Yu Darvish and the Dodgers

The Dodgers are the MLB’s best team this season by 5.5 games over the Houston Astros. They currently sit at 74 wins and 31 losses with just 57 games remaining. To win 100 games, the Dodgers have to simply go 26-31 at this point. What that really means is that Darvish was not acquired to make the playoffs, but to give them the best possible team they can in the playoffs. When you look at teams like the Nationals, Dbacks, and Cubs, it is not going to be an easy path to the World Series. Though they are currently 14 up on the Dbacks in the division, this guarantees nothing in the playoffs.

By getting Darvish that will give them a playoff rotation of:

Kershaw, Darvish, Wood, Hill/Mccarthy/Maeda/Ryu

This will allow guys like Mccarthy, Maeda, and Ryu to go help out in the bullpen, rather than trading top prospects for guys like Brad Hand or Zack Britton. As of right now, for the first time in a long time, The Dodgers are minimum four good starters deep for their potential playoff rotation, and this takes a lot of pressure off of Kershaw to have to perform on short rest once again.

The Rest of the Regular Season

To this point in 2017, Darvish has pitched well with a 4.01 ERA, 3.98 FIP, and 2.4 fWAR in 137 IP. Steamer projects him to pitch another 71 innings with a 3.97 ERA, 3.82 FIP, and 1.3 fWAR. This will be helpful, but as mentioned above, not crucial for the Dodgers.

What this does for the Dodgers, based on the updated 2017 Steamer projections, is give them potentially six starting pitchers who would give them at least 2 fWAR in their rotation. This has Kershaw at 6.6, Wood at 4.3, Mccarthy at 3.0, Hill at 2.4, Maeda at 2.1, and then Darvish overall at 3.7 now joining the group. Very few other rotations in baseball could come close to this kind of value in a rotation, if any others at all.

With the lead that the Dodgers have in the division, they do not need to push starters and can afford to give these guys more rest if necessarily leading up to the end of the season. Kershaw is still out at the moment, but has been playing catch in the Dodgers outfield, which means he could be back sooner than we thought. But until then the Dodgers should be back to a five man rotation with Brock Stewart heading back to the bullpen.

Overall Thoughts

The Dodgers front office going out and getting Darvish is a move that did not need to made, but it is a grand great luxury. With the way the Dodgers are constructed, they could have gone into the playoffs with what they’ve got and still been a favorite to meet up with the Astros. What this trade has done has pushed their odds even higher to not only eclipse 100 wins, but to give themselves a real shot to make the World Series for the first time since 1988.

As far as the trade itself, the Dodgers managed to get Darvish without giving up Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, or even Yadier Alvarez. They traded a very valuable hitter who was limited because of his fielding and two guys below AA. This is the best possible outcome in a deal like this, and both teams are likely to come out winners in this situation. This trade is an A for me, and both front offices should be happy with the result.