The Dodgers kicked off a trade spree Thursday by essentially making a three team, eight player trade with the other Los Angeles team, the Angels, and the Miami Marlins. The Dodgers packaged together second baseman Dee Gordon, veteran right handed starting pitcher Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas, and $12.5M, sending them to the Miami Marlins in exchange for top left handed pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, utility man Enrique Hernandez, right handed relief pitcher Chris Hatcher and catching prospect Austin Barnes. The Dodgers in turn flipped Heaney to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick a little over an hour later. Out of the eight players involved, three still have rookie eligibility: Heaney, Hernandez, and Barnes. We'll take a more in depth look at them before going over the others.
Photo courtesy of Mark Cunningham/Getty Images
One of the top left handed pitching prospects in the game today, Andrew Heaney was selected 9th overall in the 2012 draft out of Oklahoma State University, signing for a $2.6M signing bonus. "Heandog" immediately vaulted to the top of Marlins top prospect lists, finishing his debut season in Low A Greensboro. Entering the 2013 season, Heaney was assigned to A+ Jupiter where he didn't make his first start until late May due to a lat strain. Despite the late start, he was utterly dominant, allowing just six earned runs in 13 appearances spanning 61.2 innings. He posted an insane 0.88 ERA, a 2.64 FIP, and 1.01 WHIP with 66 strike outs (25.6%), 17 walks (6.6%), and 45 hits with two home runs allowed and an opponents triple slash of .193/.266/.270 with an excellent .258 BABIP and 87.4% strand rate. Heaney was promoted to AA Jacksonville at the beginning of August and finished the year there, making six more starts and logging 33.2 more innings with a 2.94 ERA, 3.12 FIP, and 1.19 WHIP. He only walked nine (6.5%) at the AA level with 23 punch outs (16.7%), 31 hits, two home runs allowed, a .279 BABIP, 78% strand rate, and he held Southern League hitters to a .242/.292/.320 line. For the entire year he threw 95.1 innings with a 1.60 ERA, a 2.89 FIP, a 1.07 WHIP, and 89 strike outs (22.5%) to 26 walks (6.6%). The opposition only managed a .211/.275/.288 line off him with just 19 extra base hits allowed in 396 batters faced. Lefties actually performed better against him, posting an OPS 140 points better than right handed hitters who hit just .198/.268/.265 over 311 PA's. His batted ball profile shows a slight flyball tendency with a 41.1% ground ball rate that was a few points below league average, but he registered a 1.14 GO:FO ratio.
The 6'2, 185 pound southpaw returned to AA for the start of the 2014 campaign, making nine appearances spanning 53.2 innings before getting the bump to AAA New Orleans in late May. Prior to the promotion he posted a 2.35 ERA, 2.46 FIP, and 1.08 WHIP with 52 strike outs (23.9%), 13 walks (6%), 45 hits, and two home runs allowed with a .285 BABIP and 76.1% strand rate. The Oklahoma native spent the rest of the year shuttling between AAA and the Marlins, making 15 starts for New Orleans and another seven appearances for the parent club. He threw 83.2 innings for New Orleans with a 3.87 ERA, 3.89 FIP, and 1.17 WHIP with 91 punch out (26%), 23 walks (6.6%), 75 hits, and nine home runs allowed. His BABIP was the highest since his debut at .296 with a brutal 63.8% strand rate. The 23 year old also struggled through his first 29.1 Major League innings, getting tagged pretty hard with a 5.83 ERA, 5.45 FIP, and 1.33 WHIP though his xFIP and SIERA were much lower in the 4.04 (SIERA) to 4.18 (xFIP) range. He struck out 20 (15.9%) and walked seven (5.6%) in his first crack at the big leagues, also allowing 32 hits and six homers with a .276 opponents batting average. For the entire year encompassing AA, AAA, and the MLB, Heaney threw 166.2 innings with a 3.73 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 163 strike outs (23.5%), 43 walks (6.2%), 152 hits, and 17 home runs. He also went from having a reverse platoon split the year before to holding left handed hitters to a .194/.246/.269 line while right handers hit .254/.297/.381 against him. His groundball rate was near league average at 42.6% with a 1.15 GO:FO ratio in the minors and 1.13 GO:FO in the MLB.
The scouting report for Andrew Heaney starts with an excellent slider in the high 70's that features hard, last-second break. He adds a 90-95 mph fastball with great command that can reach 97 mph on occasion and a developing, above average change up in the low 80's to round out his arsenal. The delivery is effortless and easily repeatable with easy arm action, making mid 90's fastballs look WAY easier to do than it actually is. He's shown good pitchability with an ability to sequence well and keep hitters off balance. Heaney has also shown the cajones to pound the inside corner with his fastball and has, by all reports, excellent make-up on the mound with a bulldog mentality. If everything breaks right for Heaney and he maxes out to his full potential, the Angels will have themselves a quality #2 pitcher with a trio of plus pitches, great control, and the durability to eat innings.
2014 AA stats
2014 AAA stats
2014 MLB stats
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports
Enrique "Kike" Hernandez was originally Astros property, signing with Houston back in 2009 for $150,000 as their 6th round pick in the draft out of American Military Academy in Puerto Rico. The 5'11 170 pound right hander made his full season debut in 2011 as a 19 year old for the Astros' Low A squad in the South Atlantic League. By the 2013 season he had advanced to AA Corps Christi, spending the entire season there hitting .236/.297/.375 over 483 plate appearances. He hit a career high 13 homers with 18 doubles, a pair of triples, 34 walks (7%) and 70 strike outs (14.5%) for an 89 wRC+ and .301 wOBA. His batted ball profile showed a tendency to hit fly balls at an above league average rate, but he also popped the ball up on the infield over 2% more than league average as well. On defense he spent the majority of the time at second base (104 of 118 games) with a handful of games at every position on the diamond other than first base and the battery. As a second baseman he made 14 errors with a .973 fielding percentage and 4.80 range factor that was good for second best in the Texas League at the position.
The 2014 season started in AA Corpus Christi again, posting an .847 OPS through 43 plate appearances and 10 games before being promoted to AAA Oklahoma City where he turned into an entirely different hitter, losing a leg kick and improving his hitting by leaps and bounds. In 289 plate appearances, Hernandez hit .337/.380/.508 with eight homer and 17 doubles to go with just 25 strike outs (8.7%) and 18 walks (6.2%). He put up a 129 wRC+ and .387 wOBA with a .346 BABIP before being promoted again to Houston at the start of July. For the Astros he played in 24 games with a .768 OPS, a 116 OPS+, a 119 wRC+, and was worth 0.6 fWAR in just 89 plate appearances. At the trade deadline he was packaged together with Jarred Cosart and Austin Wates and sent to Miami in exchange for three prospects and a supplemental first round pick in the upcoming 2015 draft. Kike played in four games with Miami before being sent down to AAA New Orleans where he made 84 plate appearances, hitting .250/.345/.403 with a pair of homers. When rosters expanded in September, Hernandez was brought up to Miami again and hit .175/.267/.425 in 45 PA's with two homers. Adding up his cumulative minor league stats gives you a .319/.372/.484 line over 416 PA's with 25 doubles, 11 home runs, a pair of triples, and six stolen bases. He worked 31 walks (7.5%) to 41 strike outs (9.9%) with a 124 wRC+, .377 wOBA, and a .332 BABIP. Hernandez remained a bit of a fly ball hitter, putting 30.8% of balls in the air, a good four points higher than league average. In 42 Major League contests he hit .248/.321/.421 with three homers, six doubles, 12 walks (9%), 21 strike outs (15.7%), a 110 wRC+, and 107 OPS+, and was worth 1.1 fWAR in just 134 PA's.
Kike Hernandez doesn't possess any above average or plus tools, but is a sum of all his parts kind of player who gets the most out of what he has. Dropping the big leg kick in his swing literally turned him into a different player, as he's been reported as saying the change fixed his timing issues and allowed him to see the ball much better and pick up spin earlier. With the adjustments, he began squaring the ball up more often and showing more power to the point where its a tick below average. His plate approach is good but he doesn't work many walks, drawing just 43 of them all year. Defensively, his versatility adds to his value as he can play any position on the diamond outside of the battery. He may not be great, or even good, at each position, but he can play passable outfield defense and above average defense at the keystone. He shows good range despite average speed and a decent arm. The Dodgers should be able to use him as a utility infielder if he can beat out Justin Turner for that slot on the stacked roster. I think he could handle second base in a full time role and get above league average production offensively if he can sustain the success he showed last year.
2014 MiLB (AA and AAA) stats
2014 MLB (HOU and MIA) stats
Photo courtesy of Roger Hoover
The Miami Marlins selected Austin Barnes in the 9th round of the 2011 draft out of Arizona State University, signing for a $95,000 bonus. The nephew of 13 year MLB infielder Mike Gallego, he signed early enough to rack up 250 plate appearances his debut season. His full season debut the next year was a success as he posted an .882 OPS in the South Atlantic over 566 plate appearances in his age 22 season while manning second base. 2013 was split between A+ Jupiter and AA Jacksonville with the majority of the time being in Jupiter. Barnes made 417 PA's there with a .260/.367/.343 line that included four homers, 15 doubles, 52 walks (12.5%), and 59 punch outs (14.1%) for a 110 wRC+ and .340 wOBA. His BABIP was a repeatable .298 and he also stole five bags while beginning to transition to a full time catcher. In the 64 games he caught he only allowed five passed balls and six errors. In early August he made the jump to AA, appearing in 19 more games and making 74 plate appearances. The 5'9, 185 pound right hander tore up the Southern League in his first taste, hitting .339/.446/.484 with 12 walks and 10 strike outs. For the year he hit .272/.379/.364 with 64 walks (13%) to 69 strike outs (14.1%) with a 120 wRC+, a .353 wOBA, and .312 BABIP. On top of the fantastic plate discipline, he also hit line drives at a 23.9% clip, eight percent better than than Florida State League average. He hit right handers better than lefties (.761 OPS to .704), but most of his power came from the right side while also showing a considerable home/road split (road OPS - .656, home OPS - .837). Barnes threw out 29.1% of attempted base thieves for the year with six errors in 535 chances and five passed balls.
Despite his excellent work in AA to finish up the 2013 season, he was sent back to Jupiter in the Florida State League for the first two months of the 2014 campaign. He impressed with a .317/.385/.417 line over 200 PA's, hitting 11 doubles, one homer, and 19 walks (9.5%) to 25 strike outs (12.5%) with a 132 wRC+, .372 wOBA, and .364 BABIP. Starting the first of June he was again promoted to AA Jacksonville where his power came back to game action. Over the next 348 plate appearances, Barnes torched the Southern League again, hitting .296/.406/.507 with 12 homers, 20 doubles, and an incredible 50 walks (14.4%) to just 36 strike outs (10.3%) with a 157 wRC+, a .411 wOBA, and .299 BABIP. He still hit line drives at an 18% clip and put 4% less balls on the ground throughout the year. I wouldn't count on him sustaining the power numbers though with a home run on an outfield fly ball 14.8% of the time in Jacksonville, 6.2% better than the Southern League average. Combining the stats between both levels, he hit .304/.398/.472 with a 148 wRC+, .397 wOBA, and .324 BABIP with 31 doubles, 13 homers, 11 stolen bases, 69 walks (12.6%) and 61 strike outs (11.1%). He again demolished right handers, mauling them with a .320/.406/.500 triple slash, 12 of his 13 home runs, 25 of 31 doubles, and an even 50 walks to 50 strike outs in 434 trips to the plate. Against southpaws he only managed a .239/.368/.359 line, but worked 19 walks to 11 strike outs in a short sample of 114 PA's. He made great strides behind the plate as well, only allowing one passed ball all year with six errors and 38% of attempted base stealers getting caught. He also made 30 starts at second base, making six more errors for a .962 fielding percentage and 15 games at the hot corner where he made another five errors for an .886 fielding percentage.
At the plate Barnes uses a short, compact swing to lace line drives all over the field with a fantastic approach and a willingness to go the other way. He's got a knack for putting the barrel on the ball and has a tremendous understanding of the game and things like situational hitting and making productive outs. Reports on his make-up are off the charts and despite his short stature, can step up and take a leadership role. Though he put up decent power numbers this past year, he doesn't have the pop to get to triple digits at the highest level, but should make up for it by generating good AVG/OBP numbers. He's a below average runner but because of his high baseball IQ he can take advantage of mistakes by the defense and snatch the extra bag. His play behind the plate is starting quality with good blocking skills even though his arm struggles to grade out as average. A lightning fast transfer and release paired with proper footwork make up for the lack of arm strength. He also has the reflexes to play the hot corner and can also play a good second base. Barnes is a sleeper here, partly due to him playing next year at 25 and because he has yet to play 100 games in the upper minors. I love the approach and the over-achiever vibe I get from him along with the usual "scrappy" and "gamer" superlatives he's received. He's at least a year away from contributing in LA, but his versatility can only help his case.
2014 A+ stats
2014 AA stats
After all the wheeling and dealing stopped, the Dodgers ended up swapping out second baseman, bringing in Kendrick while shipping out Gordon, and also added a utility man, relief arm, and a catching prospect. The Marlins add a legitimate speed threat at the top of their line up in front of Giancarlo Stanton, a solid back end innings eater and veteran presence if he doesn't retire, and a back up infielder capable of playing all over the dirt. On top of that, they get $10M to cover Haren's salary and another $2.5M for Gordon's. The Angels come out of this with a top shelf left handed pitching prospect that is major league ready and controllable for six more years.
Dee Gordon experienced a huge breakthrough season in 2014, leading the major leagues in stolen bases with 64 and triples with 12 while hitting .289/.326/.378 with 17 doubles, a pair of long balls, and 31 walks (4.8%) to 107 strike outs (16.5%). He took home All-Star honors, a 101 OPS+, 101 wRC+, and 3.1 fWAR. Entering his physical prime, the Marlins are able to put a catalyst atop their order who had the 5th most hits in the National League in 2014, and is followed by another excellent table setter in Christian Yelich before you get to Giancarlo Stanton. Veteran right hander Dan Haren may or may not be a factor as he as made it known that if he was to be traded out of Los Angeles, he would rather retire than play for anyone other than the Dodgers or Angels. If he does end up hanging up his cleats, the Marlins would be compensated for their loss by LA. The 6'5, 215 pound right handed starter will be 34 next year but threw to a 4.02 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, and was worth 1.0 fWAR over 186 innings. Other metrics like xFIP (3.70) and SIERA (3.74) though he was a bit better than the numbers show as he struck out 145 (18.7%), walked 36 (5.1%), and surrendered 27 long balls. It was the 10th consecutive season Haren had made at least 30 starts, thrown at least 169 innings, and registered a double digit win total. According to pitchf/x, his average fastball velocity dipped to a career low 87.6 mph but is mitigated by multiple looks in the same general velocity range.
Then there is 29 year old right handed reliever Chris Hatcher and soon-to-be 26 year old infielder Miguel Rojas. Hatcher, a converted catcher as recently as 2010, finally stuck in the Marlins' bullpen this year in his fourth attempt. He spent the first month and a half of the season at AAA New Orleans for the third straight year, posting a 2.01 ERA, a 3.43 FIP, and a 0.99 WHIP through 22.1 frames with 25 strike outs (28.7%) to just six walks (6.9%), 16 hits, a .259 BABIP, and 88.5% strand rate. By mid May he got the call to Miami again and finished the year there with 56 more innings of work with a 3.38 ERA, a 2.56 FIP, and a 1.20 WHIP while striking out 60 (25.9%) and walking just 12 (5.2%). The 6'1, 205 pound right hander generated a 1.44 GB:FB ratio and 47.5% ground ball rate with a .327 BABIP and 73.3% strand rate while his xFIP was 2.78, his SIERA was 2.50, and was worth 0.7 fWAR. He could battle for a spot in the Dodgers' bullpen this Spring with his 92-95 mph fastball, a wicked mid 80's slider, and a decent change. Add a late-inning mentality and innate ability to fill the zone and you get a potential set-up guy.
Rojas exhausted his rookie eligibility this year as he split time between the launching pad of AAA Albuquerque and Los Angeles. The career .238/.305/.297 hitter over 2639 PA's put together a .302/.353/.434 line in Albuquerque with nine doubles, four home runs, seven stolen bases and 10 walks (5.8%) to 21 strike outs (12.1%) across 173 plate appearances. It was the best partial season of his nine year career with a 101 wRC+ and .334 wOBA. The Dodgers promoted him to Los Angeles in early June and he finished the year with a .181/.242/.221 line in 162 PA's with one home run and three doubles, a 34 wRC+, a .213 wOBA, a .217 BABIP, and a very high 68.4% ground ball rate. Despite the lack of pretty much anything offensively, he produced 0.5 fWAR based on his excellent defense. He saved 10 runs defensively at short stop in just 283 innings and another four runs at third base in just over 105 innings.
Rojas is the epitome of the excellent glove, no bat archetype. The real question is can he hit enough to let his glove play regularly and the answer to that is no. Rojas will be a great backup short stop with excellent defensive skills as a late inning replacement, and I expect him to stick around for awhile because of that. He's got decent speed, but his leatherwork is what's going to get him paid throughout his career. Joining the Marlins, he represents depth and potential as an emergency replacement for starting short stop Adeiny Hechavarria.
As for winners and losers in the deal, the Angels added a mid-rotation lefty for the last year of their second baseman while the Dodgers shored up their middle infield defense dramatically, added veteran players on short term deals that don't block any highly regarded prospects, and even added some depth. Miami brought in one of the best speed threats in the game and a veteran mid-rotation starter if he doesn't retire along with a defensive wizard. Like a lot of the trades this Winter, it makes sense for all parties involved, but if the Dodgers get a ring in 2015, this will be one of the key moves that enabled that to happen.