Patience is a Virtue
Trading for stars, changing the game to make it faster, it all seems to reach a fever pitch when a deadline looms.
Baseball is making the most money ever in its history. Baseball has more parity in the ranks than ever in history. The Los Angeles Dodgers have their best record now since the end of the 1974 season and are on a stretch better than any team since the turn of the last century.
Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, Brad Hand, and Zach Britton. Pitch clocks, four-finger walks, and other time management tick tocks. We are always looking for something better, faster, and more convenient.
Progress is never a bad thing. However, when progress interferes with patience, we usually end up with someone worse than what we started with. On the other hand, recognizing when to change is also a virtue.
Recent history tells us that it is the Dodgers farm system and non-traditional free agent signings that has gotten the team to their current place in history. It is also the game of baseball, in its historical form that has gotten it to its current place. You see the game of the baseball is nearly the same game it was as played a hundred years ago. Furthermore, the Dodgers are great this year because their farm system has performed as planned, not because of deadline trades.
Think about the Dodgers best players this year. Corey Seager, draftee. Cody Bellinger, draftee. Yasiel Puig, international signee. Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, draftees. Justin Turner and Chris Taylor, picked up with little to no cost to the team.
As a matter of fact, President of Baseball Operation Andrew Friedman, General Manager Farhan Zaidi, and the Dodgers front office to date have not made a bad trade. They live and thrive on keeping their top prospects, or their blue chip prospect(s), while trading away quantity (three prospects instead of two, etc.) over quality.
The Dodgers trade for pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick in 2016 before the July trade deadline is a perfect example. Instead of trading a top prospect, they traded bulk in three relief/starting pictures for two rentals. Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes, and Jharel Cotton went to the A’s, while Hill and Reddick came to the Dodgers.
Understandably, Sonny Gray likely has a longer career ahead of him than Rich Hill does, but he is also injury prone like Hill, but Gray would come at a steeper cost to the Dodgers in terms of prospects than Hill. Yu Darvish, in similar fashion, is a two-three month rental, with significant injury history, but the Rangers initial demand was one of the Dodgers two top prospects. A simple math experiment says that is a bad idea, two-three months of team control versus at least six years of control and far less salary.
How about the market’s available relievers? Zach Britton is under team control beyond this season, but relievers only pitch one inning of relief every few days and Britton has significant injury history. The smart play here is to wait out the storm and trade only where the Dodgers top four prospects are not required in any deal. Jeren Kendall and a few other top prospects are likely protected as well from any trade.
Everyone is playing catch up with the Dodgers and with a couple peripheral moves, not ground breaking moves, the Dodgers will be sitting pretty and set to make a deep playoff run. It would be a mistake to lose the farm, while betting on a risky free agent. Remember, the Rangers, Orioles, and A’s need the Dodger’s prospects more than the Dodgers need to acquire their talent. That alone should tell you whether a deal should be done and if so, who and what should be traded. The Dodgers are dealing from a position of strength and have all the leverage. Negotiations 101.
If Andrew Friedman is patient, can we really blame him? People seem to get anxious and make bad decisions when under pressure. The Dodgers farm system alone, with Walker Buehler in Triple A, is far better than most of the options on the market. Alex Verdugo and Willie Calhoun are better prospects than some are Major League Baseball players. Yadier Alvarez, a scout colleague once mentioned, throws harder than most other pitchers do when he is just warming up.
In studying history, the Dodgers will not give up any of their top five prospects in any deal, especially in this year’s market. Again, patience is a virtue.
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I still would be a lot more comfortable with a solid lefty reliever. Need to get Harper, Murphy, Rizzo, Lamb, etc. out.
Excellent article and assessment of the Dodgers’ front office. I am not always positive about my assessment of Andrew Friedman’s moves; however, in terms of building both the major league roster and farm system, he has done a superb job. As fans, we may sometimes feel underwhelmed with his midseason and offseason moves; but the prospects he has steadfastly refused to trade are now leading the team to record achievements. As I see other teams trading their best prospects for less than stellar talent or injury-prone players, Friedman has maintained his focus and avoided overpaying.
They should never have let Zack get away!!!!!!!!!!
Great article. Whether they trade for and impact starter or an off the radar reliever I have complete trust in whatever the front office decides to do. They’ve created a powerhouse with their scouting, smart signings, trades, and most importantly as Jeremy states in his great piece patience. The Dodgers have been able to keep their draft picks under their tutelage and bring them up how they think will best benefit the player and it’s worked year in and year out. Prospects have flourished knowing that as long as they work hard and prove that they’ll be MLB ready someday the Dodgers will keep them and call them up when it’s their time. They’ve been patient with Yasiel Puig and their fruits of their labor are finally coming to fruition. They’ve created off the charts depth that is able to weather huge injuries like Kershaw’s and they’re still considered the best team in baseball. This is a precursor for even more good things to come, and as a Dodgers fan I truly believe that championships, not just one, will come in due time. Keep it up front office because it’s truly a joyous time to be a Dodgers fan.