Winter Meetings Talk: NL West Goes Wild

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the defending NL West champions, but they haven't stood pat this off-season. The Dodgers continued to wheel-and-deal on Wednesday in a flurry moves. The Arizona Diamondbacks also made a move that should impact the NL West next season, while the Colorado Rockies also got into the action with a minor deal.

Dodgers Wheel-and-Deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ busy off-season continued in earnest on Wednesday, as they were involved in three major transactions that should net them a new middle infield, as well as another frontline starting pitcher.

The Dodgers lost Hanley Ramirez earlier this off-season to the Boston Red Sox, but it looks like they will have Jimmy Rollins to bridge the gap for the Dodgers between Ramirez and top prospect Corey Seager, who is expected to be ready for the big leagues in 2016. The deal was yet to be announced officially as of Wednesday evening, but it is believed that LA will send two minor league pitchers back to Philadelphia.

Rollins is under contract for just the 2015 season at $11 million. He appeared in 138 games last season for the Phillies, batting .243/.323/.394 with 17 homers and 28 stolen bases. Rollins had a 1.0 dWAR and should be a defensive upgrade for the Dodgers at short.

Rollins will have another former All-Star to team with on double-plays at Chavez Ravine this season. In a three-team deal that was finalized late on Wednesday, the Dodgers shipped 2014 second baseman Dee Gordon, starter Dan Haren and infielder Miguel Rojas -- as well as cash considerations or a player to be named later -- to the Miami Marlins in exchange for prospects Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes. The Dodgers then flipped Heaney – who was the Marlins’ top prospect – to the Los Angeles Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.

Like Rollins, Kendrick will be a free agent after the 2015 season. Long one of the most underrated infielders in the American League, Kendrick will move to the other side of Southern California for his 10th big league season. Kendrick finished 18th in the AL MVP voting last year and hit .293/.347/.397 in 157 games for the Angels. He was a 5.5 WAR player for the Angels last year, with a dWAR better than 1.

Kendrick will replace Gordon, who had a breakout first half of the 2014 season for LA but struggled down-the-stretch. He walked just four times during the second half of the season and had a 648 OPS during the second half. The Marlins are hoping that they are getting the Gordon who had a 742 OPS and 43 stolen bases during the first half of the 2014 season. He is under team control for several more seasons and will become a table-setter for Giancarlo Stanton in the Miami line-up.

The Marlins are also hoping that they can add Dan Haren to their starting rotation. Haren is owed $10 million for the 2015 season – a sum the Dodgers will reportedly pay most of – but he has stated publicly that he will retire if he has to pitch outside of Southern California (where he lives with his family). Miami will reportedly receive monetary compensation from the Dodgers if Haren retires, and they could repurpose that money to take on other veteran contracts.

Rojas could fill a utility role for Miami in 2015. He appeared in 85 games for the Dodgers last season, which was his rookie year. He hit only .181 in 149 at-bats, but he had a 1.8 dWAR while playing shortstop, third base, second base and left field.

Miami is giving up a lot of young talent in this deal. Heaney was widely considered the Marlins’ top prospect and should be ready to pitch in the big leagues as soon as Opening Day. Heaney made seven appearances – five starts – for the Marlins last season. The ninth overall pick in 2012 has had a quick rise to the big leagues. In two-plus minor league seasons, he has a 2.77 ERA and 262 strike-outs against 68 walks in 259.2 innings. Barnes is an intriguing catching prospect, while Hatcher could have a future in a big league bullpen and Hernandez is a utiltyman who posted a 742 OPS for Miami and Houston last year.

The Angels will be without top starter Garrett Richards for at least the first six weeks of the season, but they still have Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago returning from a starting rotation that pitched above expectations last season. The addition of Heaney will give the Angels extra depth while Richards heals and could allow the Angels to dump C.J. Wilson, who has disappointed in his time with the Halos. The Angels won’t likely get much return for Wilson, but if they can free themselves of some of his huge contract, it would give the Angels some much-needed salary wiggleroom. Heaney is a low-cost starting pitching asset that will be under team control for several more years at a reasonable price.

The Angels made a second move to shore up their suddenly open second base position, acquiring Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for prospect RHP Jairo Diaz. Rutledge appeared in a career-high 105 games for the Rockies this season. He had a 728 OPS and appeared in games defensive at second, short and third. Rutledge could win the Angels’ second base job or serve in a utility role if the Angels acquire a veteran second baseman in a separate deal.

Diaz gives the Rockies a cost-controlled power arm for their bullpen. He made his major-league debut with the Angels this season and struck-out eight in five innings. Diaz had 85 strike-outs in 64.2 innings between High-A and Double-A this season.

The Dodgers weren’t done with those three trades. Los Angeles also reportedly is close to signing free agent right-hander Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal. Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is worth $48 million. McCarthy had a huge second half for the New York Yankees and was considered the top starter available in the second-tier of the starting pitching market behind the Jon Lester-Max Scherzer-James Shields triumvirate.

McCarthy just finished a two-year contract that he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks before the 2013 season. The right-hander struggled with Arizona, but he thrived after a mid-season trade to the New York Yankees this year. In 14 starts with the Yankees, McCarthy had a 2.89 ERA. He struck-out 82 and walked 13 in 90 innings. McCarthy, a groundball pitcher, should benefit from the improved Dodgers’ middle infield defense. He is a bit of a risk on a multi-year deal because he has a long injury history, but, if healthy, McCarthy should be a force for an LA rotation that already includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Diamondbacks Deal Miley

The Arizona Diamondbacs shed some salary and added prospects on Wednesday when they traded left-hander Wade Miley to the Boston Red Sox for RHPs Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa, as well as another minor league prospect. The deal is expected to be finalized in the next day or two.

Miley joins the Boston rotation a day after they lost out on the Jon Lester sweepstakes. Miley had a 4.34 ERA in 201.2 innings for the D-Backs last year, but his K-rate was 8.2 and he had an excellent groundball rate. Miley has pitched at least 194 innings in each of his three full major league seasons.

The Diamondbacks will receive two of the Red Sox’s better pitching prospects in Webster and de la Rosa. Both pitchers came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to LA. Webster made 11 starts for Boston last season and had a 5.03 ERA in 59 innings. He struck-out 36 and walked 28. De la Rosa, who is out of options, made 19 appearances (18 starts) for the Red Sox in 2014. He had a 4.43 ERA and a 74:35 K:BB.

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