That is the simple answer to why the Dodgers were willing to trade pitcher Jose De Leon to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, for second baseman Logan Forsythe. For all the hype around De Leon, the Dodgers did not consider him one of their elite prospects.
This is not to demean De Leon. He excelled at every level of the minor leagues, and he could jump into the Rays' starting rotation immediately. There might be no greater currency in trade than a starting pitcher who can step into a major league rotation today but not file for free agency for another six years.
“He’s got a chance to be a really good major league pitcher,” said
De Leon, 24, went 7-1 with a 2.61 earned-run average at triple-A Oklahoma City last season. When the Dodgers promoted him in September, he had thrown 18 consecutive scoreless innings and recorded 40 strikeouts since his last walk.
By the time the Dodgers called him up to patch their injury-riddled rotation, they already had used 14 other starters, including four other rookies.
The team held him back in extended
When Baseball America ranked the Dodgers' prospects earlier this month, the top pitcher was not De Leon but 20-year-old Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez.
The Dodgers would not have traded Alvarez or first baseman Cody Bellinger — just as they did not trade shortstop
The Dodgers project Clayton Kershaw,
The Dodgers weakened their next-level depth by trading De Leon on Monday and trading Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas last July for Hill and since-departed outfielder
However, because Guggenheim Baseball ownership put its ample money where its mouth was in emphasizing scouting and player development, the depth that remains would be the envy of many other organizations.
It's hard to win without a second baseman. Sure, this trade could represent the second coming of the infamous Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields trade, but the chances are beyond slim, and no team can win if it operates out of fear.
Bottom line: The Dodgers are closer this week than they were last week to their first