Tuesday, February 11, 2020

More than Graterol for Maeda

Technically, the Twins were not involved in the Mookie Betts trade. As it was originally reported almost a week ago, Brusdar Graterol was to go to Boston, Kenta Maeda would come to the Twins and Betts and David Price would go to the Dodgers.

On Monday two deals were made official, one strictly between the Dodgers and Red Sox, the other strictly between the Twins and Dodgers. And the latter was more complex than a one-for-one trade. The other components:

OF/1B Luke Raley goes to the Dodgers. Pretty near major-league ready left-handed hitter, 25 years old, had limited playing time in Triple A last year because of injury. The Twins got him from the Dodgers in 2018 when they traded Brian Dozier at the deadline.

Raley's going to play in the majors. It may require another trade for him to get any real playing time; the Dodgers aren't any easier a roster to crack than the Twins, and there was no obvious route for Raley with Minnesota. The Twins, by the way, clear off a 40-man roster spot by trading Raley, and they might need that spot by the end of training camp.

C Jair Carmago comes to Minnesota. A catcher who played in the low-A Midwest League last year at age 19. Reputed to have good catch-and-throw skills, not a lot of evidence that he can hit. He's probably a marginal prospect.

The Dodgers get the Twins "Competitive Balance B" draft pick, no. 67 overall in June. The competitive balance picks, doled out by lottery to the smallest markets, are the only tradeable ones under MLB rules, and there does seem to be a fairly busy market in them. Obviously, we don't know who this would have been had the Twins retained it.

The Twins get $10 million from the Dodgers. There are a lot of ways to view this; one is to say that the Twins are getting the first two of Maeda's four contracted seasons for free. Another is that the Dodgers are playing for much of the playing-time bonuses the Twins hope to pay out this year to the likes of Josh Donaldson, Rich Hill and Maeda.

My conclusion: The expanded trade is probably a little better for the Twins than the original version. The Twins didn't give up anything they needed for 2020. They may not have given up anything or gained anything of future value. The $10 million ... that probably adds a little more wriggle room in the payroll budget, already at a club-record high.

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