Now, there’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll start with the three biggest names involved in all of this: Olivera, Latos and Wood.
First, Olivera. If you’re wondering how high the Dodgers are on the infielder, remember we’re just over two months removed from them giving the 30-year-old a six-year, $62.5 million deal. Since then, over three minor-league levels, Olivera has slashed .342/.398/.493 with 2 HR in 19 games (74 AB).
The thing with Olivera; however, is that there’s not really a perfect position for him thanks to Justin Turner. When the Dodgers added Turner prior to last season, they never expected him to become one of the team’s best hitters and a mandatory inclusion in the lineup. Heck, they probably didn’t even assume that two months ago — which is why the pursuit of Olivera was as aggressive as it was.
With the emergence of Turner and the acquisition of Peraza, to put it simply, Olivera become expendable (and, in comparison, expensive).
Which leads us to the return he brought from Atlanta (and the centerpiece to the larger deal): Alex Wood.
For starters, he’s young (24) and cheap (he won’t become a free agent until 2020). Oh, and he’s pretty good too via Scott Coleman of Talking Chop:
Alex Wood since 2013: 3.10 ERA, 3.17 FIP David Price since 2013: 3.10 ERA, 2.91 FIP Cole Hamels since 2013: 3.19 ERA, 3.18 FIP
— Scott Coleman (@scottcoleman55) July 30, 2015
Now, I want to be clear: Wood isn’t as good as Hamels or Price (duh), but he’s really good, and the team doesn’t have to worry about re-signing him (or paying him $20 million) anytime soon, and that’s pretty important. Some have speculated that Wood could be the centerpiece of a David Price trade, but if you ask me, I’d take 4+ years of Wood over 2+ months of Price, I think.
That brings us to the second pitcher (allegedly) acquired by the Dodgers: Mat Latos.
Like many guys across the league, Latos is a good example of someone whose true abilities are masked by surface-level stats like a 4-7 record or a 4.48 ERA. Beneath the surface, however, there’s a lot to like: in his last 45.2 innings, Latos has logged 43 strikeouts with a WHIP under 1.00 — all while recording six quality starts in his past seven appearances.
Even if you look at his entire season sabermetrically, things aren’t nearly as bad as a 4.48 ERA would indicate. If you take a look at FIP, Latos has a 3.34 mark — good for No. 38 in baseball among pitchers with 80+ IP. For reference, Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez are No. 32, 33 and 34 on that list.
Now, before we get all bent out of shape about how Latos and Wood aren’t front-line aces, remember: these guys are replacing Carlos Frias, Mike Bolsinger, Zach Lee, Brandon Beachy and the handful of other spot starters that have started at some point this season. With the Giants closing in, it was clear that asking one of those four to pitch two out of every five days wasn’t going to fly — which is what make Wood and Latos so valuable.
And the best part? All it cost the Dodgers was money. They acquired all of this talent simply by agreeing to pay salaries (Morse, Latos), outbidding everyone for a prospect whose cost they bought down (Olivera) and then shipping out Zach Byrd (our 18th ranked prospect), alongside a young, but replaceable left-handed reliever in Paco Rodriguez.
Now that, my friends, is what we call a good deal.