We wake up on Wednesday to a brand new baseball landscape. After months of rumors and speculation the Los Angeles Dodgers finally made the big splash that was anticipated, and from the sound of things there is at least one more domino to fall (with a rumored Joc Pederson for Luis Rengifo swap still waiting to be formerly announced). While we can’t get the full scope from a Dodgers’ perspective, we can look at the individual players already confirmed to be on the move:
- Dodgers Get – OF Mookie Betts & LHP David Price
- Twins Get – RHP Kenta Maeda
- Red Sox Get – OF Alex Verdugo & RHP Brusdar Graterol
We all know that Betts will remain one of the elite players in the game, and joining the likes of Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Corey Seager in Los Angeles does nothing to impact his outlook. How about the other four players? Let’s take a look:
OF Alex Verdugo
Verdugo is one of two polarizing players acquired by Boston. Some people believe he has the potential to be a star, though that’s not the side of the argument I’ve fallen. Injuries helped force him into action last season, when he hit .294 with 12 HR over 377 PA and brought a strong approach (6.6% SwStr%, 43.7% Hard%). The question is going to be whether or not he can develop more power considering these underlying metrics:
- Groundball Rate – 48.7%
- HR/FB – 14.0%
With the power surge throughout the game the HR/FB is unimpressive. Without speed, his value could be solely tied to his average (and in OBP formats his outlook is worse). Maybe he hits .290+, but is that enough? That is a tougher sell when you read this, courtesy of Baseball America:
While Verdugo’s talent is undeniable, his maturity and effort have long drawn scorn from coaches, scouts and even his own teammates
Regardless if it’s Los Angeles or Boston the questions are there, though at least he has more guaranteed AB now.
Stock – Rising slightly due to the more secure playing time
RHP Brusdar Graterol
Is he a starter or a reliever? He appeared to thrive in 10 appearances out of the bullpen for Minnesota, as he was averaging 99.0 mph on his fastball. He’s consistently shown all of the skills we look for from a pitcher. Just look at the numbers over 163.0 IP in the minors the past two seasons:
- Strikeouts – 9.28 K/9 (12.0% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.82 BB/9
- Groundballs – 54.8%
He features two pitches and has effort in his delivery, which has led to the speculation that he could become a high leverage reliever. Considering the questions Boston has at the back of their bullpen, is it a role he could move into quickly? Given the price Boston paid you would think that they’d try him in the rotation, but ultimately the outlook is the same.
Stock – Neutral, as the outlook doesn’t change
LHP David Price
Price moves from the AL East to the NL West, which should help an outlook that entered the winter a bit cloudy. It doesn’t eliminate the risks, as the recent home run troubles (HR/9 of 1.28 and 1.26 the past two years), injury risks (107.1 IP or fewer in two of the past three seasons) and reduced velocity (he averaged 92.0 mph on his fastball in ’19) aren’t going to disappear. Los Angeles should be a more favorable home, helping with the home runs, but what’s going to happen when Price steps into Coors Field?
There is going to be more opportunities for wins as well as a potentially higher strikeout rate (though this won’t be significant, considering his initial projection of a 9.10 K/9). Price becomes a slightly more attractive option, but he remains more of a SP4 as opposed to an ace.
Stock – Virtually Neutral
RHP Kenta Maeda
Moving to the American League often isn’t ideal for a pitcher, but with Maeda it could be different. Obviously there’s a little bit increased risk, but the Dodgers have consistently yo-yoed Maeda between the rotation and the bullpen as they juggled their starters and looked to keep them fresh and healthy. In Minnesota it should be different, as the team is constantly looking for healp in the rotation. Instead of projecting 150 innings, would it be surprising to see him reach 170? If healthy could he hit the 180 inning mark? That was the only thing that kept Maeda outside our initial Top 40 starting pitcher rankings, considering his ability to miss bats (14.6% SwStr%) with solid control (2.72 BB/9 for his career). While it’s not a given, suddenly the stock could potentially soar.
Stock – Rising
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball America