Looking Back on the LA Dodgers 2018 Trade for Relief Pitcher John Axford

The Dodgers traded right-handed relief prospect Corey Copping to the Toronto Blue Jays hours before the 2018 Trade Deadline in exchange for former top-tier closer John Axford.

The Trade

When the Dodgers acquired Axford, he was not exactly setting the world on fire, but was acting as a solid enough setup man for the Toronto Blue Jays, a team with slim to none chances at making a playoff run.

At the time of the trade, Axford had a 5.44 ERA, but a better-looking 4.19 FIP and was nearly picking up a strikeout per inning. A fair bet on Friedman’s part, but was more of a dumpster dive than a real back-end option.

However, in a Dodger uniform, Axford was terrible and unfortunate. He only tossed 3 2/3 innings in 5 games in Dodger blue as he lost 35 days due to a fractured leg sustained in Colorado. He surrendered 7 earned runs in all, but 6 of those runs came in his first outing with Los Angeles.

Axford, who re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in the off-season, remains on the Injured List and has yet to throw a professional pitch in 2019.

The Moving Parts

Corey Copping

The only player sent in the other direction, Copping ranked amongst the best relief prospects in the Dodgers’ system at the time of the trade. However, that does not necessarily mean Copping was an elite prospect of any kind. For example, he currently ranks outside of the top 30 prospects in the Blue Jays’ system, according to Fangraphs’ lead prospect evaluators Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen.

Copping had posted some stellar earned run averages for the Dodgers and got as high as Oklahoma City in the system, but the performance has declined since the trade to the Blue Jays.

Copping pitched well in a small sample size for the Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate in 2018, posting a 1.93 ERA and 1.143 WHIP in 14 innings. However, this year has gone a lot differently for Copping as he’s posted a 6.75 ERA and 1.844 WHIP in 32 innings at Triple-A Buffalo.


This was a minor trade and unlike the trading of Yordan Alvarez for reliever Josh Fields, this one was a break-even type of trade. Axford did not do his job as a member of the Dodgers’ organization, but Copping is not a prospect that you would write home about. All is well. Friedman and Zaidi gambled in the trash bin and did not win nor lose this one.

Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 19 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

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