Posted on January 24, 2017 by Bryan Zarpentine
It has taken most of the offseason, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have finally found their second baseman for 2017. Monday night, the Dodgers completed a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, acquiring second baseman Logan Forsythe for pitching prospect Jose De Leon.
The Dodgers have spent much of the past month trying to pry Brian Dozier away from the Minnesota Twins, although talks hit an impasse after Los Angeles declined to include any elite prospects other than De Leon in the deal. As a result, the Dodgers began to explore their other options available on the trade market, and they landed on Forsythe.
After struggling to find consistency and regular playing time early in his career with the San Diego Padres, Forsythe has broken out over the past two seasons with the Rays and emerged as an above-average second baseman. Over the past two seasons, Forsythe has combined for 37 home runs and 57 doubles, producing a slugging percentage of .444 in both seasons.
Forsythe will undoubtedly be the every day second baseman in Los Angeles, taking over the role from veteran Chase Utley, who remains unsigned after getting a majority of the time at second base for the Dodgers last season. Based on his production from the past two seasons, Forsythe should be an upgrade over Utley on both sides of the ball, as Forsythe is a more reliable defensive player and base runner than the aging Utley, in addition to be a productive offensive player.
Before acquiring Forsythe, the Dodgers had Enrique Hernandez penciled in as their second baseman in 2017. Hernandez can now fall back into a utility role, which is good news for the Dodgers, as Hernandez has more experience in the outfield than he does as an infielder. The Dodgers also have recent Cuban signee Jose Miguel Fernandez as an option at second base, although after going two years without playing baseball, he is far from a guarantee to be ready to contribute at the start of the season.
As for the Rays, they get the top pitcher in the Dodgers’ farm system. Despite going 2-0 , De Leon struggled in four starts with the Dodgers late last season, posting a 6.35 ERA. However he does have the potential to develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter, although there are some who feel he will end up pitching in the back of a major league bullpen. The Rays are likely to start De Leon in the minors in 2017, although it’ll be interesting to see if having him waiting in the wings makes Tampa Bay more willing to part with one of their other starters, with Jake Odorizzi being linked in trade talks last week.
Meanwhile, the departure of Forsythe creates a question for the Rays at second base. Nick Franklin figures to be the favorite following a productive year in a part-time role in 2016. Brad Miller, who is now behind Matt Duffy at shortstop, could also slide over to second base. Former first overall pick Tim Beckham may finally get an opportunity to earn a full-time job if the Rays decide to hold an open competition during spring training. Prospect Daniel Robertson could also factor into the mix after spending all of last season in triple-A, posting a modest .713 OPS.
Ultimately, this was a trade the Dodgers had to make, as they didn’t appear to be willing to meet Minnesota’s price to acquire Dozier. Forsythe should be a solid second baseman and an upgrade over what Utley provided last season, but it’s the Rays who have a chance to win this trade. In the short term, the Rays have multiple candidates to fill in for Forsythe, while De Leon offers true ace potential, and one way or another should grow into being an impact major league pitcher.