The biggest issue facing Andrew Friedman in Los Angeles this offseason is simple – move at least one outfielder. Coming into the winter, the team had Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig under contract for the 2015 season and beyond. Top prospect Joc Pederson was waiting in the wings. Scott Van Slyke established himself as a legitimate power threat off the bench.
Then, the Dodgers went and screwed everything up yesterday by acquiring versatile Reds outfielder Chris Heisey, who seemed likely to be non-tendered by Cincinnati yesterday.
The Dodgers have traded RHP Matt Magill to the Reds for OF Chris Heisey.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) December 3, 2014
Heisey isn’t a great player – he hit .222/.265/.378 with eight homers and nine stolen bases in 299 plate appearances in 2014. He’ll be 30 this month. However, he’s a solid (to say the least) defender in all three outfield positions. There’s a lot of value in those skills, and at (probably) somewhere between $2 and $3 million, that’s a solid deal for the Dodgers, especially when compared to say, Ethier and his four homers and lead glove.
The Heisey acquisition makes me think that Los Angeles has something bigger planned for the next week or two. They wouldn’t give up Matt Magill (who admittedly didn’t throw an inning in the majors in 2014) for Heisey, guaranteeing they’d get the player, if there wasn’t something cooking in Friedman’s brain.
Let’s pretend that the Dodgers *don’t* move an outfielder. They’re obviously not going to bring seven outfielders back to LA at the end of Spring Training. If you send Pederson to AAA to start the year, you’ve still got six outfielders under control, and the only one who can play in the infield is Van Slyke, who can only play first base. And I highly doubt Los Angeles would be willing to damage their bench by demoting Van Slyke and his right-handed power. So you’re left with a situation where the club would dump Heisey, months after acquiring him, or eat the contract of Ethier. Are you starting to see the ridiculous situation this team is in if they don’t trade an outfielder?
And that’s why I think a deal with some team is going to get done. I have no idea which player will be moved – Kemp’s contract is ridiculous, but he actually had a productive year. Ethier is awful, but only signed for three more years. Crawford is better than Ethier, also signed for three years, but is owed more money. Puig is the most talented, but would cost the most. Van Slyke is the cheapest, but the most limited.
Every one of the Dodgers outfielders has some sort of barrier to entry when it comes to their acquisition. I’m sure the dream scenario for Los Angeles would be to move Ethier, and one of Crawford and Kemp. Of course, other teams know this, and I doubt they’d be willing to throw Friedman a bone here.
So yes, a move involving the Los Angeles outfield seems likely sooner rather than later. But when it comes to what the move will be? Your guess is as good as mine.