We’ve heard Matt Kemp bandied about in some trade talk, mostly of the silly Hot Stove variety, but major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that James Loney is the position player the Dodgers are “most willing” to trade.
Loney batted just .267/.329/.395 with 10 homers, 88 RBI and a 723 OPS this past season, poor production from a first baseman. The 26-year-old has topped 88 RBI in three consecutive seasons, but hasn’t had more than 13 homers or a 772 OPS since 2007. The 26-year-old agreed to a one-year, $3.1 million contract in his first go-around in arbitration this past January, so he’s in line to make even more this winter.
The free agent market is fairly deep as far as power hitting first basemen are concerned, so the Dodgers could make a trade to attempt to upgrade either at third base or in left field. One scenario Rosenthal paints is that the Dodgers could turn to a left field platoon featuring Jay Gibbons and Casey Blake. 37-year-old Blake in left field? Ouch. No thank you.
I suppose you could throw Loney in there as a non-tender candidate, but I believe he will be offered a contract, even if the Dodgers are unable to find a trade partner. It’s interesting that Rosenthal hears that Loney is the position player the Dodgers are “most willing” to trade when they also have Russell Martin under team control. Martin, who underwent hip surgery in August and has underperformed in each of the past two seasons, could make around $6 million in arbitration this winter.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.