Dodgers make 6-player trade with Royals and White Sox

The Dodgers completed three-team / six-player trade with the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox late Thursday afternoon that brought left-handed reliever Scott Alexander and minor league utility infielder / outfielder Jake Peter to the Dodgers; sent Luis Avilan, right-hander Joakim Soria and cash considerations to the White Sox; and sent right-hander Trevor Oaks and utility infielder Erick Mejia to the Royals.

The 28-year-old Alexander appeared in 58 games with the Royals last season, posting a 5-4 record, a 2.48 ERA and earning four saves. But without question, the thing that undoubtedly caught the attention of Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi is that since making his Major League debut in 2015, Alexander ranks second in the major leagues among all relievers with a minimum of 75 innings pitched in ground ball percentage (72.9 percent) behind only Baltimore Orioles reliever Zach Britton (78.4 percent).

But wait, there’s more!

During the 2017 season, the 6′-2″ / 190-pound Santa Rosa, California native and Royals’ sixth-round draft pick in 2010 out of Sonoma State University, ranked third among all American League relievers in inducing double plays with 13, for a remarkable 22.4 GIDP percentage. And for good measure, Alexander’s 2.48 ERA in 2017 ranked 12th in the AL, while limiting opposing hitters to a minuscule .246 batting average. He finished the 2017 campaign with 59 strike outs and 28 walks in his 69.0 innings of work. In his three partial seasons with the Royals, Alexander owns a very respectable 2.78 career ERA.

If there is such a thing as catching lightning in a bottle or perhaps even some kind of a sign for conspiracy theorists, that Santa Rosa, California thing might be right up your alley. It’s no secret that the Dodgers are / were hoping to find a suitable replacement for right-handed set-up man Brandon Morrow, whom they lost to the Chicago Cubs for a hefty 2-year / $21 million free agent contract (with a $12 million vesting option for 2020) to be the Cubs closer. As it turns out, Morrow, like Alexander, was also born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. (Cue the X-Files music).

In an ironic twist of fate, Scott Alexander is from Santa Rosa, California – the same town that Brandon Morrow is from and the man that the Dodgers are desperately hoping Alexander can successfully replace.
(Photo credit – John Sleezer)

Speaking of catching lightning in a bottle, there is zero doubt that every Dodger fan on the planet is still licking their wounds after losing beloved utility outfielder / infielder Charlie Culberson to the Atlanta Braves in the salary-dump trade of Dodgers veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, left-hander Scott Kazmir and right-hander Brandon McCarthy in exchange for former one-time fan-favorite Dodger Matt Kemp and the $43 million remaining on his ridiculous  8-year / $160 million contract. And although it is a reach to think that 24-year-old Jake Peter will fill the shoes of the extremely well-loved Culberson, stranger things have happened in our wacky national pastime.

Peter split the 2017 season between Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham in the White Sox organization, where he hit a combined .279 with 63 runs, 19 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, with 49 RBIs. He also stole 11 bases in the 120 games in which he has played. And though the former 2014 seventh-round draft pick by the White Sox out of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska played 97 games at second base in his brief four-year minor league career, he also appeared in eight games at third base, nine games in left field and five games in right field. The Mason City, Iowa native also owns a minor league career slash-line of .282 / .347 / .394 / .741 with 86 doubles, 15 triples, 24 home runs and 185 RBIs through 440 minor league games played; 107 of which were at the Triple-A level.

It’s hard to argue that the most painful part of this three-team / six-player trade for Dodger fans is the loss of 24-year-old Riverside, California native Trevor Oaks, who was on the Dodgers 40-man roster and on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues in 2018. Oaks, who was selected by the Dodgers – also in the seventh round in 2014 – out of California Baptist University in Riverside, owned a very impressive 31-13 record and a 3.27 ERA over his four minor league seasons – all within the Dodgers organization. In fact, he, Chase De Jong, and Scott Barlow comprised the starting rotation of the 2015 California League Champion Rancho Cucamonga Quakes behind the powerful hitting of some guy named Cody Bellinger. Ironically, with Oaks now gone, all three starters from that championship Quakes team have been traded – De Jong to the Seattle Mariners, and Barlow and Oaks to the Royals.

In addition to being teammates on the 2015 Cal League Champion Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Chase De Jong, Trevor Oaks and Scott Barlow are also very close friends. Although De Jong is now in the Mariners organization, Oaks and Barlow are once again reunited in the Royals organization. (Photo courtesy of @ChaseDeJong)

Luis Avilan appeared in 61 games for the Dodgers in 2017, posting a 2-3 record and impressive 2.93 ERA over 46.0 innings pitched. He also limited opposing hitters to a .246 batting average. In his three seasons with the Dodgers, “Avi,” as he was called by teammates, was a combined 5-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 111 games. During that time, the 28-year-old Caracas, Venezuela native limited opposing hitters to a mere .226 batting average, while striking out 98 and walking 37.

Utility infielder Erick Mejia spent six seasons in the Dodgers minor league system including 24 games with the Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 102 games with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers and one game with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, posting a combined slash-line of .278 / .344 / .397 / .741. The 23-year-old Villa Mella, Dominican Republic native tallied eight home runs and 41 RBIs in his combined 127 games played in 2017. The Dodgers initially acquired Mejia from the Seattle Mariners on January 12, 2016. in exchange for former right-hander Joe Wieland.

Although Thursday’s late afternoon three-team / six player trade was certainly significant for all three teams involved, it’s probably safe to say that Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi are far from finished this off-season.

The truth is out there.

 

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One Response to “Dodgers make 6-player trade with Royals and White Sox”

  1. SoCalBum says:

    Thanks for the more detailed info on Alexander. First, I was not a fan of Avilan in the BP as he was so inconsistent, or Mejia as an infield prospect (poor defensively), but from what I have read Oaks was a legit SP prospect as a no. 5 or 4 who could eat innings in that role. Alexander had a good season in 2017 but his stats were very similar to those of Avilan with fewer K’s but a much better ground ball rate. Avilan now arbitration eligible whereas Alexander has 2 more seasons before being arbitration eligible likely was a factor; Dodgers save approximately $2MM in salary for other purposes in 2018. From the scouting report I read about the infielder Peter, he is a much better prospect than Mejia; he may have a chance to make the opening day roster if he has a good ST. Seems like a marginal BP improvement, a $2MM payroll reduction, with the potential of adding the needed LH hitting utility infielder at the cost of SP depth.

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