Hey, LA: Why the trade?
People keep asking: Why the heck did the Dodgers make the six-player trade in which the best player they landed was – ahem – infielder Alberto Callaspo?
Naturally, they had their reasons, according to major-league sources:
* Callaspo, a switch hitter, is a better fit for the Dodgers than Juan Uribe, a right-handed hitter who was third on their depth chart at third base behind Justin Turner and Alex Guerrero – and would have dropped to fourth once Hector Olivera joined the club.
The Dodgers’ lack a left-handed presence on their bench when outfielder Andre Ethier is in the lineup, and Callaspo also is more versatile than Uribe, capable of playing first, second and third base.
* Left-hander Ian Thomas, one of three pitchers the Dodgers acquired from the Braves, will be stretched out as a starter at Triple A to determine whether he can add to the team’s rotation options.
Thomas has started only 17 times in 197 professional appearances, including four times last season in the minors. At worst, the Dodgers believe he can be a left-handed reliever.
* Left-hander Eric Stults, whom the Dodgers immediately designated for assignment, has enough service time to elect free agency if he clears waivers, but to do that he would need to forfeit the remainder of his $2 million salary.
Stults will become another potential starter for the Dodgers if he clears waivers. The team, however, considers Thomas the best pitcher of the three it acquired. The third, right-hander Juan Jaime, is a pure upside play who will report to extended spring training.
* No, the Dodgers did not want to part with right-hander Chris Withrow, who had an impressive strikeout rate before undergoing both Tommy John and back surgery in 2014.
Still, the team is deep in right-handed relief and figured it would be difficult to include Withrow on its 40-man roster this offseason without knowing what to expect from him in ’16.
* The Dodgers saved money in the deal – just over $1 million in the pure salary exchange and a greater amount in luxury-tax payroll due to Uribe’s $7.5 million average annual value over his two-year contract.
Luxury-tax payroll is calculated from such AAVs; Uribe’s actually salary this season is $6.5 million. Callaspo received $100,000 to waive his no-trade rights, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. That money, however, was paid by the Braves.