ATLANTA — The first-place Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered their pitching staff on the eve of the trade deadline, completing a 13-player deal with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins that sent two starters and two relievers to the NL West leaders on Thursday.
Clinging to a half-game lead over San Francisco, the Dodgers acquired right-hander Mat Latos from the Marlins and left-hander Alex Wood from the Braves, two pitchers who can move right into the rotation behind aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Also, Los Angeles obtained relievers Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan from Atlanta, adding needed depth to the bullpen.
“To sit here having addressed the biggest areas of need for us in terms of rotation and bullpen, while adding future pieces and preserving the top guys in our farm system, that’s a really good outcome,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations. “Not only for what it does for the 2015 team, but the position it puts us in for the winter and next season and beyond.”
The rebuilding Braves kept up their massive overhaul, also surrendering top infield prospect Jose Peraza to the Dodgers largely to land 30-year-old Cuban defector Hector Olivera, an infielder who has impressed in the minors since signing a $62.5 million, six-year deal with Los Angeles this year.
As for the Marlins, it was another familiar salary dump. Out of contention in the NL East, Miami rid itself of Latos and first baseman Michael Morse for three minor leaguers. Morse didn’t last long with the Dodgers, who designated him for assignment shortly after the trade.
The deals worked like this:
– The Dodgers got Wood (7-6, 3.54 ERA), Johnson (2-3, 2.25, nine saves), Avilan (2-4, 3.58), Peraza (.294 with 26 stolen bases for Triple-A Gwinnett) and pitcher Bronson Arroyo from the Braves, along with Latos (4-7, 4.48), Morse (.214, four homers, 12 RBIs) and cash considerations from the Marlins. Arroyo is coming back from Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched this season, his inclusion in the deal mainly a financial benefit to the Braves.
– Atlanta received Olivera, who is hitting a combined .348 with two homers and seven RBIs in 19 games at three different levels of the Dodgers’ farm system this season, along with injured left-hander Paco Rodriguez and minor leaguer Zachary Bird, a right-handed pitcher. The Braves also got a draft pick from the Marlins.
– Miami acquired minor league right-handers Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo from the Dodgers, none of whom has pitched above Class A.
While the Dodgers spent lavishly to land Olivera, they decided the organization has enough depth at second base to make the deal.
“It’s not that we thought he was expendable,” Friedman said. “This lined up with something that we felt like addressed some current needs for us.”
To clear room in the rotation, Mike Bolsinger will be dropped despite going 5-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 16 starts.
The deadline for making trades without waivers is 4 p.m. EDT Friday. The Dodgers may not be done.
“I don’t want to talk about the deadline in the past tense,” Friedman said.
Braves general manager John Hart kept up its efforts to rebuild the team for the long term, with an eye toward the move to a new suburban stadium in 2017. The Braves were eager to sign Olivera after he defected and feel he can be a key offensive player for years to come — even though he’s yet to play in the big leagues and his age makes him an unorthodox prospect.
They jumped at the chance to trade for him even though it cost them the 24-year-old Wood, who isn’t even eligible for arbitration until 2017, and one of their top prospects in Peraza.
“We really tried to sign the guy and the Dodgers came in and blew us out of the water financially,” Hart said before a game at Philadelphia. “We like the player, we like the bat, we like the makeup. This is a guy we felt was major league ready and can come in and hit somewhere in the middle of the order.”
Olivera could play second base, third base or even left field in Atlanta, but Braves are more concerned with beefing up their anemic offense. Also, the Dodgers will be responsible for the remaining $16 million due as part of his $28 million signing bonus.
But Olivera has battled right elbow problems — leading to a clause in his contract which tacks on another year at just $1 million if he has Tommy John surgery at any time during the next six years. He currently is sidelined by a left hamstring injury.
That wasn’t enough to dissuade Hart.
“Financially, it’s just tough to find those bats,” he said. “We were able to get a bat we feel is affordable for us because of the fact they paid the signing bonus. We feel this is going to give us the opportunity to do more things to build the club.”
The Marlins dumped two big contracts on the Dodgers, whose record luxury-tax payroll climbed to $297 million. That would lead to a $43 million assessment at the end of the year under baseball’s luxury tax.
Latos is making $9.4 million in the final year of his contact, while Morse is getting $7.5 million this year and is owed another $8.5 million next season.
Morse wasn’t the only player dumped by Los Angeles after the trade. Outfielder Chris Heisey and right-handers Brandon Beachy and Chin-Hui Tsao also were designated for assignment.
The Marlins had hoped to contend in the NL East with Latos and Morse, part of an offseason overhaul that included the signing of Giancarlo Stanton to a $325 million, 13-year deal.
That plan has been scuttled. After a 1-0 loss to first-place Washington on Thursday, Miami dropped to 13 games behind the Nationals.
“When I have to sit here and say we’ve made a trade and we haven’t added (immediate help), it means something has not gone right,” Marlins President Michael Hill said. “We’re 18 games under .500 and not performing the way we felt like this team was capable of performing.”