By Jon Weisman
Pitching prospect Julio Urias turned 19 today, 19 and still a Dodger, 12 days after the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
Among other things, the occasion made me wonder whom a 19-year-old Clayton Kershaw might have been traded for, back in 2007.
The Dodgers were very much a contender in the summer of 2007. Coming off their 2006 wild-card season, Los Angeles was in first place as late as July 29, and only a game behind Arizona at the July 31 deadline.
The only move the Dodgers made that day was to trade Wilson Betemit for Scott Proctor. But what if they had put their teenage pitching prodigy, with a 2.77 ERA in Single-A Great Lakes, on the market?
The biggest move made at the end of July 2007 was Atlanta’s acquisition of first baseman Mark Texeira and reliever Ron Mahay from the Rangers for a rather interesting package that included catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison. Saltalamacchia (No. 36), Andrus (No. 65) and Harrison (No. 90) were all top-100 prospects entering the 2007 season, while Feliz would enter the top 100 the following season.
How could the Dodgers have matched or topped that package? How about with Andy LaRoche (No. 19), Kershaw (No. 24) and Scott Elbert (No. 31)?
And there’s the rub. Two of those players, though full of promise, you wouldn’t have ended up missing. But one of them, you would have missed beyond comprehension. For a World Series title, you can say it would have been worth it, but without that title? It’s scary to even think about. The stakes were, and are, incredibly high.
This piece is not meant to imply that the Dodgers’ title hopes live or die with the fate of Julio Urias, but only to remind that few outcomes are obvious without hindsight. Not trying to start a fight or end one here.
I don’t know if there were other deals to be made or not, nor does it really matter.
So what actually happened in the end in 2007? It was Colorado, of all teams, a mere 54-51 on July 31, that would zoom out of fourth place in the final two months to reach the World Series. And whom did the Rockies acquire at the trade deadline? None other than Dan Serafini, who pitched one-third of an inning and allowed two runs, for a 54.00 ERA.
They probably would have included Loney in the bundle (Nomar moved to third post Betemit), along with LaRoche. Would ownership have approved the payroll bump in the McCourt era?
It should also be noted that Urias is a top-5 prospect in baseball, so better than even Kershaw was at the time. Not that that in any way implies he’ll be as good as or better than Kershaw, but it does tell you that, if trading top-30 prospects is dangerous, then trading a top-5 guy should be even more nerve wracking.
Yes, higher ranked and at a higher level.
This would have been huge though.
* If the 07 Dodgers made the playoffs, there would likely be no Torre or Mattingly, as Grady Little would probably still be around. Broxton wouldn’t have been left in for 50 pitches after pitching the previous night and might still be here.
* There is probably no Andruw Jones signing, and probably no Manny deal either. Teix would have still been there in 08, after all. Juan Pierre is never salary dumped to Chicago, and I don’t get to see him hit a home run.
* Blake Dewitt might have stuck and settled in as a Bill Mueller type with regular playing time.
* Teix does not get extended. The first pick in 2009 was a college pitcher, and there were no HS pitchers between there and the Yankees comp pick, so let’s say we get Trout (who was actually the comp pick for Teixeira). If you asked me if I would rather have Trout or Kershaw, I would say Kershaw now, but I wouldn’t regret having Trout.
* Do we still have Catcher/Guitarist Carlos Santana? Or did we still acquire Blake?
* I think all the Guggenheim stuff would be the same. Loney is fungible in the Punto trade.
I gotta sit down for this …
Yes, wow…that’s a lot of thought there.
Grady Little would be about 100, increasingly doddering, and long gone.
I was waiting for the Dodgers to trade Urias and or Seager for Hamel, Price or any of the top pitchers on the market. I was surprised, even a little disappointed that it didn’t happen. Now I’m hoping they made the right move or non move in this case.
So let the future repeat itself. Maybe the Dodgers have a long awaited missing piece.