The Dodgers installed Dee Gordon as their everyday shortstop and leadoff man this season, but that may not continue for much longer.
Gordon went 0-for-5 with a strikeout in last night’s win over the Cardinals, dropping his batting line down to .200/.239/.255 through 155 plate appearances this season. According to Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hinted after the game that there could be some changes on the way.
“Seeing it from where I was at tonight, it wasn’t very good,” said Mattingly, who got to watch most of it from the center-field television camera on the television in his office because he was ejected by plate umpire Tom Hallion in the top of the third inning. “The game seems to be moving awfully fast for him right now. We are going to continue to make decisions. But in the same breath, this kid is going to be a good player. He is going through something right now that is going to make him a better player later on.
“Things aren’t easy in this game, and there are times when you’re going to go through rough stuff. He is going through some rough stuff right now.”
The Dodgers could just move Gordon out of the leadoff spot to take some pressure off, but Jackson speculates that the speedy 24-year-old could be optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque while he works through his struggles. Justin Sellers would likely function as the regular shortstop in this scenario while Tony Gwynn, Jr. would slide into the leadoff spot.
Gordon’s .241 batting average on balls in play suggests that he has been the victim of some bad luck, especially coming off a .345 BABIP last year, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re still working with a small sample this early in the season and in his brief major league career, but he’s currently hitting more fly balls and less line drives while only six players have a higher infield fly ball rate. He has already drawn more walks (eight) this year than he did in 233 plate appearances last year (seven), which is a good sign, but he has also seen his strikeout rate jump from 11.6 percent to 19.4 percent. While he’s still the shortstop of the future for the Dodgers, he’s just a pretty easy out right now.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.