Once more the Dodgers are in the middle of things as Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi continue to wheel and deal, showing up world renown tradesmith Billy Beane in the process. This particular deal brings in the short stop the Dodgers had been looking for, acquiring Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies with two pitching prospects, reportedly Tom Windle and Zach Eflin, heading to Philadelphia. Eflin didn't spend more than a few hours as a member of the Dodgers, being acquired earlier from the Padres in the Matt Kemp blockbuster. With neither of the two players heading to the NL East having cracked into the upper minors, lets examine them under a bit more light.
Photo courtesy of Gopher Sports Update
The Dodgers popped Tom Windle in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Minnesota, signing him for a $986,500 bonus quickly. After signing, the Dodgers sent him directly to their full season Low A affiliate with his polish and college experience, and he threw 53.2 innings before the end of his pro debut. In Great Lakes he posted a 2.68 ERA, a 3.15 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP with 51 strike out (22.1%) to 20 walks (8.7%) while allowing 50 hits, two home runs, and a .308 BABIP to go with a 76.6% strand rate. Windle didn't show much of a platoon split, holding same sided hitters to a .292/.329/.354 line while right handed hitters managed a .218/.304/.317 triple slash. He did show a pretty sharp home/road split though, looking nearly untouchable at home (.518 OPS) while "struggling" on the road with a .745 OPS. Windle's batted ball profile for the year showed a slight lean to fly balls with a 0.93 ground out to air out ratio and 41.8% ground balls, 3.1% less than Midwest League average.
This past year Windle weathered the California League storm, escaping with a 4.26 ERA, a 4.53 FIP, and 1.37 WHIP over 139.1 innings of work in his age 22 season. The 6'4, 205 pound southpaw struck out 111 (18.3%) with 44 free passes issued (7.3%), 147 hits and 14 home runs allowed with a .309 BABIP and a rough 64.8% strand rate. California League hitters were able to put a .271/.329/.402 triple slash up off him, and he seemed to struggle down the stretch, pitching to a 4.75 ERA and allowing the opposition to put up an .810 OPS against him (including nine of 14 home runs allowed) from July onward. Once again he was more effective against right handed hitters overall, limiting them to a .276/.325/.391 triple slash with 78 strike outs to 28 walks over 442 plate appearances while lefties put a .257/.340/.436 line on him in 164 PA's. Working in the offensively charged California League, he transformed from a slight fly ball pitcher to a ground ball machine, racking up wormburners 50.6% of the time with a 1.61 GO:AO ratio.
Windle works with a fastball that comes in around 91-94 mph and the ability to manipulate it three ways (a sinker, cutter, and two-seam with run on it). He gets good plane by leveraging his 6'4 frame well and he has a devastating mid 80's slider he can put anywhere and will throw it in any count. A change up rounds out his arsenal and it made tremendous strides throughout the year, turning it into a viable, average third pitch. He's able to make all his pitches play up with good control of the ball and a deceptive, slight crossfire delivery. The former Golden Gopher should be ready to tackle the upper minors for the Phillies with his debut slated for AA Reading next year. In the perfect world, Windle takes another step forward with his change to give him two above average pitches (FB and CH) and one plus pitch with a good idea where they're all going. That's a #3 starter with a chance at more, but again, this is best case scenario. More than likely he settles into the middle of the Phillies future rotation and gives them plenty of innings.
2014 A+ stats
Photo courtesy of Megan Casselle
If the following looks familiar, it's because it's same write-up from the trade he was involved in prior to this one where he went from San Diego to Los Angeles in a package for Matt Kemp. For the full write up including his 2013 and 2014 performance, check it out here.
Eflin attacks hitters with a bowling ball low 90's sinker, pitching to contact rather than trying to strike out the world. At times he can ramp it up to the mid 90's but its mostly in the 90-93 mph range. His go-to off speed offering is an above average change up he can throw anywhere, any time, which he pairs with an average slider with good bite on it. All of his pitches play up due to his excellent control and he's already showing good command, being able to hit his spots. His 6'4 frame gives him good downhill plane, adding to the deception on his change and sinker, and he's also got the build to handle innings without issue. If his slider takes another step forward, I could see Eflin developing into a #3 starter that racks up ground balls by the bushel. Even if it doesn't, I think he's a lock to be at least a back end, #4/5 option. Pitching in the California League at such a young age and more than holding his own should be a boon to his development as he was able to learn to keep the ball down and not throw anything without movement. Look for Eflin to debut in 2015 in AA Chattanooga's rotation.
As the Dodgers front office watched Hanley Ramirez sign with the Red Sox and knew of the dearth of high end short stops on the free agent market, they went the trade route to fill the gap. Jimmy Rollins waived his 10-5 rights (at least 10 years in the MLB with the last five on the same team) to head cross country, and will play the 2015 season at the age of 36 and under a reasonable one year, $11M contract. A former MVP, three time All-Star, and five time Gold Glove winner, Rollins has spent the past 15 seasons with the Phillies, leading the National League in triples four times, runs once, and stolen bases once. The 2nd round pick of the Phils in the 1996 draft, J-Roll had the worst season of his illustrious career in 2013, but bounced back to put up a 101 OPS+, 102 wRC+, 22 doubles, and 17 homers with a .243/.323/.394 line. Defensive metrics had him at four runs saved and a 3.7 UZR with just seven errors all year for a .988 fielding percentage.
Giving up a pair of young potential mid-rotation arms for Rollins on a one year deal is the epitome of a win-now deal. Los Angeles wanted a veteran with good defense to hold down the fort until top prospect Corey Seager is ready to go, and that is exactly what they received. Even if the Dodgers end up with a ring next year, I still like this deal for the Phillies, especially if Los Angeles is unable to extend Rollins.