Trade Details: The Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RHP Tyler Glasnow and OF Manuel Margot from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for OF Jonny Deluca and RHP Ryan Pepiot.
On the same day they introduced Shohei Ohtani as a Dodger, the team made a big trade, agreeing to a deal that would add right-hander Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Manuel Margot from the Rays in exchange for two young players, right-hander Ryan. Pepiot and outfielder Jonny Deluca, who have not even reached arbitration and have five and six years of team control left, respectively. (The deal depends on Glasnow and the Dodgers working out a contract extension, but that’s not part of the trade itself, as the Dodgers will only acquire one year of Glasnow’s service and the $25 million he’s owed for 2024.)
Glasnow is one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy, something he hasn’t been for a significant period of time in his major league career. He struck out a third of the batters he faced in 2023 after his return from Tommy John surgery, and his 2.91 FIP would have ranked second in the American League had he qualified, between league leader Sonny Gray and Kevin Gausman. . Glasnow was even better in 2021 before surgery, with a 2.77 FIP and 2.66 ERA that would have led the league had he qualified, although he only pitched 88 innings that year before the injury.
Glasnow stands at 6-foot-8 and makes incredible use of his height, with one of the best stretches against any pitcher in baseball at 7.5 feet. He sits at 96-97 mph with two more breaking balls on his slider and curveball. The slider has much more power (Statcast has him throwing several at 93 and changeup, which is illegal in several states) while the curveball has above-average vertical break played due to that extension. He barely uses a changeup and over the course of his career hasn’t shown platoon splitting, but last season he had some issues with lefties, something worth watching in case something materially changed after surgery. .
The biggest issue, of course, is durability: His 2023 total of 120 innings was actually a career-high in the majors, and the most he’s pitched in any season since 2016, when he had a career-best 140. innings and reached its highest level. -league debut. The Dodgers need quality in their rotation, but they also need quantity, with so many question marks between inexperience and guys coming back from injuries. Glasnow gives them quality, but I have no real idea how many innings they can count on him to throw.
Manuel Margot is a high-contact hitter with very little power whose value largely comes from his positive defense anywhere in the outfield, but since a knee injury in 2022, that defensive value hasn’t been on display. From 2017-21, he was 9-12 runs above average (per Statcast) in each full season, but fell to -1 in 2022 and 1 last season. He’s definitely lost a step or two, a decline that was already in progress even before the knee injury, so I’m not optimistic enough to think he’ll make a full recovery on defense.
If the Dodgers want him to platoon with Jason Heyward in right field, facing left-handed pitchers (against whom he has hit .281/.341/.420 in his career, versus .244/.294/.370 versus right-handers), He will have value. I’m not sure they can count on him to do more. He is under contract for one year for $10 million and has a $12 million mutual option for 2025.
I mentioned in my article about the Shohei Ohtani/Decoy contract that Ryan Pepiot “was outstanding in five starts in September, throwing more strikes than ever in pro ball, although four were against some of the lowest-scoring offenses in baseball. “Obviously, that’s still true, and he won’t face as many low-scoring offenses while pitching in the American League East, which had four teams above the league average in runs per game, and the fifth just added to Juan Freaking Soto.
Pepiot has at least a 70-grade changeup, and after a disastrous debut in 2022 where he had no command and struggled to get to or finish the changeup, he got it back last year and his fastball played better because of it. The changeup has a late-moving tone, especially downfield, and swingers have a hard time distinguishing between this and his mid-90s four-seamer because he throws the ball well over his forehead. His slider has improved into a viable weapon against right-handed hitters, although the story in 2022 was that using the slider more altered his pitch and compromised his control and changeup. None of that was evident in 2023 once he returned from a four-month layoff with an oblique injury; he threw strikes in the minors and he did in the majors, and all three pitches were effective during his time in the big leagues.
There’s definitely risk here, because their history of having even average control is largely limited to 2023, but the Rays like to take risks on guys with these types of advantages (e.g. a 70-grade pitch or better) and They also have a good track record. in pitching development. He slots right into his rotation in the spot Glasnow left.
Jonny Deluca, no relation to NWH manager Whitey, was drafted in the 25th round out of Oregon in 2019, debuted last year at age 24 and showed more speed and reasonable pitch recognition for a rookie, albeit with less power than he had shown in the lower minors. He had written before last season that he was more of a 55 running back and that he could move to a corner, but the speed and defense he showed in his cup of coffee last summer made center field look more viable. .
Deluca was a strong fastball hitter in the minors, and his breaking issues carried over to the big leagues, which isn’t surprising, but is obviously his biggest risk factor. He also didn’t make much hard contact in the majors in a small sample size, but that’s out of line with his time in the minors, where he at least made enough to project himself to average power. The Rays gave José Siri and his atrocious .267 OBP the majority of the playing time in center last year, as he is an elite defender with more power, and he still managed to be worth 2.7 fWAR, which is simply It irritates me on a level I can’t. I don’t even explain it. An OBP of .267 is a crime against a crime. Still, maybe Deluca can unseat him at some point, either this year or when Siri becomes eligible for arbitration in 2025.
If you feel like I have reservations about everyone involved in this deal, you’re right, and I think this involves a lot more risk for the Dodgers because the stakes are higher for them. It’s World Series or bust for Los Angeles this year, and they just added one of the best starters in baseball who is also one of the most unreliable (at least from an innings pitched perspective). There’s a small but real chance that Pepiot will give the Rays more in 2023 than Glasnow will give the Dodgers, if Pepiot’s apparent steps forward last year hold up over a full season in the majors.
There’s also a chance this works out for everyone: Glasnow gets his first full season as a starter, the Dodgers sprinkle their fairy dust on Margot, and he and Heyward combine for five wins in right field, while Pepiot becomes mid-rotation starter and Deluca becomes a regular. I simply see a wide range of possible outcomes for three of the players, all but Margot, and that increases the risk for everyone involved.
(Glasnow photo above: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)