Now that was interesting. In the long run probably not telling, but at least interesting.
New President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman makes a November trade with his prior team and it’s to … swap a young prospect for an old reliever?
That’s not the way things are anticipated to happen under Friedman. He is expected to make the Dodgers younger not older.
But Thursday night Friedman sent 100-mph Jose Dominguez and minor league pitcher Greg Harris to Tampa for veteran reliever Joel Peralta and minor league pitcher Adam Liberatore.
On the surface, this looks mainly like a Dominguez for Peralta swap, which is nothing if not curious. There’s usually not a strong market for a reliever who turns 39 next March, as Peralta will. Particularly at the expense of a very promising young arm like Dominguez, who for an admittedly brief nine games in 2013 was fairly electrifying.
Dominguez, though, appeared to fall out of favor with the Dodgers last season. Twice suspended for steroids previously in his career, he was brought up three different times early last season and did not fare well (11.37 ERA, 1.58 WHIP), though he did strike out eight in his 6 1/3 innings.
After May 2, he was never seen with the Dodgers again. In 31 games at triple-A Albuquerque, he went 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA, a 1.47 WHIP, a team-high 10 saves and 39 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings.
We did mention he can hit 100 mph. Also, he’s 24.
Now he’s out and Peralta is in, and at least initially, it’s a head-scratcher. You wonder if Friedman is having trouble shaking his small-market approach.
But Peralta has been age-defyingly effective. In his last four years, he has appeared in an average of 74 games a season (3.58 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). He would have led the Dodgers in appearances in each of the last four years.
It has to be noticed this ERA (4.41) went up a full run in 2014 from the previous season, but he remains a steady, solid arm for a bullpen that desperately needs one.
Then there is Liberatore. He’s never appeared in the majors but appears ready. Anyway, you can probably assume Friedman thinks so, and the former Rays general manager is in a position to know. Last season at triple-A Durham, Liberatore went 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA and four saves in 65 innings. He’s 27 and left-handed.
It would be nice if those days of the Dodgers too often trying to get by with one left-hander in the bullpen were officially over. Harris, 19, was not considered a major prospect.
So for this one deal, the Dodgers got older, though only a tad more expensive. Peralta is owed $2.5 million next season, the team owning an option at the same figure the next two years.
Maybe the Dodgers still want him pitching at age 41, but probably not.
By then Dominguez likely will have defined exactly who he is. Friedman’s move is a gamble, at least long-term. And most teams don’t bet against talent.