While the Red Sox gifted Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, Los Angeles pulled off a salary dump of their own. The Dodgers sent Joc Pederson, Ross Stripling, and prospect Andy Pages to the Angels for Luis Rengifo. Another prospect is supposed to be heading to the Dodgers but before that name is announced, the return looks slim.
Neither Pederson nor Stripling were owed a tremendous amount of money. Pederson will make either $7.75 million or $9.5 million depending on how his arbitration case turns out, and Ross Stripling will make just $2.1 million in 2020. Without those considerations, RosterResource estimates the Dodgers are sitting on a $206.7 million payroll insofar as the luxury tax is concerned. If that number holds, they would just skate underneath the $208 million
The Angels did well to take advantage of the Dodgers’ talent overflow. In Pederson, the Angels have more than replaced the production lost from Kole Calhoun. Joc jammed a career-high 36 homers in 2019 while walking and striking out at above league-average clips. The caveat is that every single one of Pederson’s homers came against right-handers because he’s incapable of hitting lefties. In his career, Pederson has a .252 wOBA and 57 wRC+ against lefties. The Dodgers always had the roster depth to keep him from flailing against southpaws. Until Jo Adell gets called up, the Angels have Michael Hermosillo and Brian Goodwin as fourth and fifth outfield options when lefties are on the mound. Even with his struggles when at a platoon disadvantage, Pederson undeniably makes the Angels better both at the plate and on the field.
Stripling might be a lot of team’s second or third starter, but with the Dodgers, he hasn’t been able to find innings. In LA, he’s been an overqualified swing man. In 257 innings as a starter, Stripling has a 3.71 ERA, 3.69 FIP, and an 18.4 strikeout-minus-walk percentage. His numbers out of the bullpen are even better when he can air out his fastball and top out at 95 mph.
In the other LA, Stripling’s obstacles to becoming a full-time starter have essentially vanished. In a pond of Julio Teheran, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, and Shohei Ohtani, Stripling is a big fish.
Stripling will be an Angel until 2023, but Pederson will be a free agent at season’s end. The additions of him and Stripling aren’t enough to make them favorites in the AL West by any stretch of the imagination, but a Wild Card berth seems more realistic now.
Andy Pages is also heading to Anaheim. Pages is a 19-year-old outfielder who has spent the last three years raking in rookie ball. While he has impressive power, it’s questionable that he’ll stick in the outfield. He’s an enticing lottery ticket on top of two solid major leaguers.
Though the Dodgers fleeced the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade, the return for Stripling and Pederson appears light. In his rookie year, Rengifo hit .238/.321/.364 for an 86 wRC+. His 12 home runs in 528 plate appearances spread across the big leagues and Triple-A actually marked a surprising amount of pop for him. He has only hit that much in one professional year, when he did it in 2017.
Rengifo is just 22, and he has the potential to turn into a league-average or better hitter, but currently, it’s a bit hard to see where he fits on the Dodgers roster even with a 26th spot. The Dodgers are loaded at the position with Max Muncy, Kiké Hernández, and Gavin Lux. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Dodgers tried Rengifo at positions other than second or short, but even then, it’s not like they need help at the corners or in the outfield. Without Verdugo or Pederson, the Dodgers still have an outfield of AJ Pollock, Cody Bellinger, and Mookie Betts with Chris Taylor and Hernández as back-ups. Still, Rengifo is a nice depth option for a team that didn’t really need a lot more depth.
The Dodgers and Angels both got better on Tuesday night even if this trade was rather one-sided. The Angels got an impact bat and an underappreciated pitcher, and though the Dodgers chose to shed a few perfectly good starters, they also received a generational superstar.
Kenny Kelly is a writer for Beyond the Box Score and McCovey Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter @KennyKellyWords.