After many weeks of futilely haggling with the Minnesota Twins over second baseman Brian Dozier, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally relented on Monday and settled for Plan B. With the end of the offseason fast approaching, they sent top pitching prospect Jose De Leon to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Logan Forsythe.
Forsythe is clearly an upgrade for the Dodgers, who got a .723 cumulative OPS from second basemen last year and started 37-year-old Chase Utley throughout the playoffs. He won't match the likely impact of Dozier, but Forsythe has hit 37 homers with a .791 OPS over the past two seasons and Los Angeles will take that.
In doing so, the Dodgers hold onto all of their other prized young arms, including Julio Urias, Yadier Alvarez and Walker Buehler. In the long run they may be happy they did so, especially if Dozier's 40-homer campaign proves to be an outlier.
In Tampa, De Leon joins a rotation that led the American League in strikeouts in 2016, so he should feel right at home. His K-rates in the high minors are unprecedented in recent years, although that didn't really translate to his rough late-season debut with Los Angeles. Assuming he shakes off the initial struggles, he should be in line for a spot in the Rays rotation and could pair with Chris Archer to form one of the league's best bat-missing starter duos. It bears noting, though, that the 24-year-old De Leon has yet to throw 115 innings in a season and will almost surely face a cap this year, maybe even short of 150.
Meanwhile, Dozier is all but certain to stay with the Twins, for now. It remains to be seen whether he'll keep batting leadoff, but in a lineup with improving young offensive talents like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, Dozier has plenty of potential to once again post monster numbers – especially if he doesn't slump for the first two months.
Giants Sign Hwang
San Francisco has been linked to Korean third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang throughout the offseason, and this week finally closed the deal. Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports that the sides agreed on a minor-league deal that will guarantee him $1.5 million if he makes the team.
That's surely not the deal Hwang was hoping for coming off a career year with KBO's Lotte Giants. In 113 games, the righty swinger hit .330/.391/.558 with 26 home runs and 104 RBI. He'll need to prove himself in camp but could cause an interesting ripple effect with a good showing. Any significant role would likely push incumbent third baseman Eduardo Nunez – a shaky defensive infielder – into left field at least part-time.
Cubs Take a Shot on Anderson
Staying healthy has proven an immense challenge for Brett Anderson, who has made more than eight starts in a season only once since 2011. But the raw ability is there, and that explains why the lefty keeps finding work -- with title contenders, no less.
Anderson wasn't able to help the Dodgers out much in 2016, finishing with 11 1/3 innings pitched amid an assortment of physical issues. Now, he's linking up with the team that knocked Los Angeles out of the playoffs en route to a championship.
Anderson reached agreement with the Cubs this week on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, with hefty incentives if he can stay on the mound. While that is an iffy proposition, it's worth noting that Anderson is still relatively young (he turns 29 in a week) and none of these various ailments affected his shoulder or elbow in 2016.
The Cubs were impressed with a recent bullpen session from Anderson, and they tend to make good decisions. With the potential to find himself in a very favorable situation, the southpaw will definitely generate some sleeper steam this spring.
Angel in the Infield
The Angels were in need of a versatile infielder who could swing the stick. They've found a quality fit in Luis Valbuena, who finalized a two-year, $15 million contract with the club on Tuesday. The deal includes an $8.5 million option for 2019.
Valbuena's long-term home will be at third base, where 34-year-old Yunel Escobar is the incumbent with one more year under contract, but he might open the 2017 season at first. Angels GM Billy Eppler was noncommittal about the Opening Day status of Albert Pujols following December foot surgery.
Valbuena isn't an appealing fantasy option due to his lack of upside in speed categories and his middling corner-infield power, but he's a nice pickup for the Halos.
Quick Hits: The Giants signed catcher Nick Hundley for one year and $2 million, so they now have a solid offensive backup for Buster Posey ... Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports lists the Rangers and Rays among possible suitors of strikeout-prone slugger Chris Carter ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia inked a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, and – with his raw power – could run into some fantasy value if starting catcher Russell Martin gets hurt ... Masahiro Tanaka said he'll skip the World Baseball Classic, and given the elbow scares he's had in the past we are fully on board with that ... The Dodgers have shown interest in free agent relievers Joe Blanton and Jerry Blevins, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports ... Giancarlo Stanton said he intends to play for the United States in the WBC ... According Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Mets have informed Jay Bruce they plan to have him in right field to start the season.