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Checking in on the Logan Forsythe-Jose De Leon swap

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Not a popular trade, but a (potentially) profitable one on both ends

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last winter, the Tampa Bay Rays traded clubhouse favorite Logan Forsythe, a capable infielder and corner outfielder, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for top pitching prospect Jose De Leon.

The trade drew positive and negative reviews from both sides, particularly from Rays’ All-Star and franchise player Evan Longoria, who was “upset” about dealing the 30-year old for the younger pitcher. Staff ace Chris Archer tweeted that he would miss “Logie Bear.”

If not for the financial hell the Rays constantly live in, Forsythe probably stays. His salary was set to jump from a meager $1 million after arbitration.

With the Dodgers more than able to pay and thus receiving Forsythe to become their new everyday second baseman —as well as part-time third baseman, shortstop and left fielder— they sacrificed one of their blue chip prospects: Jose De Leon.

Baseball: World Baseball Classic-Puerto Rico at Venezuela Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

De Leon’s stock reached a tipping point entering the 2016 season, a year where he would make his highly anticipated MLB debut in L.A. The Dodgers had/have many top shelf prospects, including fellow pitchers Julio Urias, Walker Buehler and Yadier Alvarez. Thus, De Leon was rendered expendable and traded during the 2016-2017 off-season.

The age 30 season for Forsythe turned out to be a rather curious step backwards. He hit just .224, his lowest mark since 2014, in just 119 games but collected a .351 OBP to balance the scale.

After slugging 20 home runs in 2016 (and 17 in 2015), he hit just six this past season. His defense was superb at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, SS and LF) and played a key role in helping the Dodgers reach their first World Series since 1988 in his opening salvo with the franchise.

Compared to De Leon’s 2017 campaign, the Dodgers are more than happy with what they got. De Leon is still young and has just 19.2 innings under his belt, but 25 years of age in baseball doesn’t extend as much of a leash as it would if he were even two years younger.

On the bright side, the investment is still very new and De Leon’s injury-riddled 2017 is in the rear view mirror. After participating in the 2017 World Baseball Classic with Puerto Rico, he unfortunately struggled in Triple-A Durham but all of his rehabilitation innings in either High-A Charlotte or rookie ball went well.

There was certainly a mutual feeling of missing each other last year between the Rays and Forsythe, but Tampa Bay found very capable alternatives in Brad Miller and Logan Morrison while the Dodgers used a variety of arms to fill any potential long relief or back-of-the rotation role De Leon would have occupied.

Declaring a winner on this deal probably won’t be possible for at least another year or two. If healthy, most believe De Leon is ready to contribute as early as next summer while Forsythe will likely have a better season than last year in 2018.

The Dodgers got a reliable piece in Forsythe and the Rays made the upside play with De Leon. While the Dodgers have pushed the needle so far, this trade still has an excellent chance of turning into a victory for the east coast American Leaguers.