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The L.A. Dodgers As A Destination For A Pittsburgh Pirates’ Package

Could John Jaso and Tony Watson Be Westward Ho?
Photo — Jaso by Charles LeClaire/USAToday Sports, Watson by Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

All right, look. The L.A. Dodgers technically don’t need anything. When you’re a performance juggernaut backed by a nigh-unlimited payroll, cruising through the regular season with a 64-29 record (that’s a 111 win pace, BTW), you’re pretty much just fine-tuning things for the postseason. That’s the place the Dodgers have not had much recent success.

Despite winning the N.L. West the past four years in a row, the Dodgers have only made the N.L. Championship Series twice (lost both times in 6 games) and haven’t been to the World Series at all since 1988. Meanwhile their N.L. West counterparts, the San Francisco Giants, have won the World Series three times since 2010.

The Dodgers don’t need anything, but they’ll probably fritter around the edges with their thoughts on creating a solid World Series-capable roster. I’m sure L.A. Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi is reading this, so I present to you a package deal that can suit two of your items on your not-needed-more-like-wanted list — a LH reliever and a good bench bat — in the form of Tony Watson and John Jaso.

I’m going to back up a half step for a second. Yes, the Pirates are on an uptick and Starling Marte is just coming back. The pitching is solid, the bats are alive, and Felipe Rivero is covered in sweet baby panda fur and unicorn horn dust. But let’s be real about the Pirates’ prospects of making the postseason — they’re not good. I can’t take any team seriously until they’re at least .500 and the Pirates are still three games under that mark. They’re 6 games back of the Brewers in the division, with the Cubs and Cards still between them, too. The Pirates certainly aren’t going to run down the Rockies (54-41) or the Diamondbacks (53-39) for a Wild Card.

I’m not suggesting a fire sale. In fact, with some tweaks to the roster and better off-the-field decisions by the players, I think this team can bounce right back into the mix in 2018. So my suggestion of trading Watson & Jaso is not to signal the beginning of the end of this core, but rather a prudent offsell of expiring assets for ones that can help in 2018. Think of the Mark Melancon for Felipe Rivero/Taylor Hearn model…just not as good.

The Dodgers have so many great players, especially on their pitching staff, that they have figured out a way to game the system in order to maximize the use of all of them. With the advent of the new 10-day DL this year, the L.A. Dodgers are shunting all their starters not named Clayton Kershaw onto the 10-day DL in order to keep their injury-prone arms fresh. Aside from the demi-god Kershaw, 5 other Dodgers have started at least 12 games, plus phenom Julio Urias started 5 games before being lost to a shoulder injury. And for 2018, they have all six of those starters that have hurled at least 12 games under contract plus Scott Kazmir, who has yet to pitch in 2017 due to a hip injury.

Enter Ross Stripling. The 27-year old Stripling is buried on the starting pitcher depth chart, even after taking the bump 14 times last year, including his debut when he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. But this year he’s been confined to middle relief, including a lot of appearances in the 5th and 6th innings. He’s acquitted himself well in 2017 with a 9.60 K/9 and 2.23 BB/9 ratio, leading to a 3.79 ERA/2.73 FIP duo in his 24 appearances. I’m only 38% joking when I say that Stripling could wander out of the clubhouse and no one would really notice he’s gone at this point.

Stripling has five years of team control after this year, with two at minimum-salary scale and three years of standard arbitration. He could challenge Chad Kuhl or Trevor Williams for a spot in the rotation or help solidify the 7th inning for the Pirates moving forward.

And because it’s the trade deadline and you can hold teams up, I’d have the Dodgers add in the 25-year old Brock Stewart, too. Stewart was brought up as a starter, but his profile is more of a reliever at this point. He’s got a 3 pitch mix of a 94 mph FB, 87 mph, and 83 mph changeup. With the way his service time has been handled, he’ll still have a full six years of team control after this one.

Tony Watson may not bring back much on his own at this point, due to his declining performance over the past calendar year. John Jaso may not bring back much on his own, as he’s probably viewed as a bench bat/pinch hitter by most contending teams. But if the Pirates can package them together, there may be strength in numbers, especially to a team with strong enough wants.

Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

12 Comments on The L.A. Dodgers As A Destination For A Pittsburgh Pirates’ Package

  1. wilbert // July 18, 2017 at 8:24 AM //

    I enjoy articles where the writer is willing to do enough work to name specific players we could get back. Well done and reasonable.

  2. Piraterican21 // July 20, 2017 at 3:21 PM //

    This seems like a lot to give for Watson and Jaso. I would of course love to see this happen.

  3. Ha ha ha ha, ludicrous Pirates Fan. Both Stewart and Stripking have back of rotation upside and their stuff has played up out of the bullpen. Washed up Watson and Jaso aren’t even upgrades over the present depth/bench pieces the Dodgers have. Dream on guys. A real trade, value for value would be Willie Calhoun, Yadier Alvarez, Trevor Oaks and Okeya Dickson for Rivera. 2 top 100 prospects and 2 depth options for one of the top lefties in the game.

  4. Thing is, the Dodgers don’t need quantity. They have plenty of that. They’re on the hunt for difference makers. Certainly wouldn’t give up Stewart unless he’s in a package that returns something a bit more dominant. And they really value Stripling who can spot start or come in any given game and pitch 4-5 innings.

  5. david mcgriff // July 23, 2017 at 12:24 PM //

    Well I can’t blame you for aimin g high, but the dodgers arent about to give up those 2 pitchers for that. If the dodgers make a move it’s going to b a big splash and not likely to include anyone on the major league roster.

  6. You seem to be ignoring one rather important part of any trade; what is the Dodgers motivation? I’d argue they’re looking for three things (only the reliever is likely):

    -a shut-down eight inning LH reliever
    -a RH innings eater #3-4 starter
    -a RH batting left fielder, and only a starter quality one at that.

    Neither of the names you propose fit any of these. Dodgers have better LH options than Watson in-house and zero use for Jaso.

  7. david mcgriff // July 23, 2017 at 12:39 PM //

    Jaso is of no use to the Dodgers as they have a log jam in the outfield the way it is, plus they lead the league in pinch hitting.Watson is not an upgrade over anyone already on the roster. The dodgers didn’t get to where they are by making trades like that. Stripling is highly thought of in the dodgers system and both are controllable pitchers in their system

  8. Greg Nelson // July 23, 2017 at 1:08 PM //

    From a Dodgers fan: Thank you for the kind offer, but no. The Dodgers, as you noted are tinkering around the edges looking for improvements. They aren’t desperate for anything. If they acquire a LH reliever, or a reliever who can get LH batters out, it has to be a shutdown, lights out guy who can put away the best LH batters who the Dodgers will face in the playoffs in high leverage situations.

  9. Michael N. Norris // July 23, 2017 at 1:57 PM //

    Stewart and Stripling have more value to the Dodgers than the writer gives them credit for, they are also fall back options if one of the starters goes down for the count. Someone like say McCarthy, who now has a blister issue, or Maeda, being RH they can fill that gap. The Dodgers have no use for Jaso what so ever. He is a more powerful version of Josh Reddick and we all know how bad that was. If the Dodgers deal anyone, FAZ prefers lower level prospects, or guys who are blocked, it will not be 2 guys on the major league roster.

  10. Michael N. Norris // July 23, 2017 at 2:01 PM //

    What the writer fails to understand is the value the Dodgers attach to Stewart and Stripling. Both are fall back options with starting experience if one of the starters goes down, IE, McCarthy or Maeda. They can both fill in. The Dodgers value Rivero more than Watson, who is over the hill. Jaso has no value to LA as the system is loaded with outfielders, and he is a slightly more powerful version of Josh Reddick, and we all know how that turned out. No thanks, we will keep them both, and you can keep dreaming.

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