Wednesday was the final day for clubs to add players to their 40 man rosters, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Instead of making a single addition, the Dodgers made three and added a subtraction. Let's see if I can make sense of these transactions.
Yimi Garcia, RHP
This was the most obvious choice the Dodgers have had to make in a while concerning the Rule 5 draft. After leaving fireballer Jose Dominguez exposed last year and getting lucky when he wasn't drafted, the Dodgers weren't going to risk Garcia, who has been dominant for the past two seasons.
Yimi projects as 7th inning guy with the potential to setup. He combines a fastball that sits mainly in the low 90s with a reliable slider. However, while he doesn't have an exceptional fastball, he gets plenty of strikeouts. Over the last three seasons, his K/9 has been over 12. His BB/9 has improved as well. However, after not surrendering a home run in 2012, he gave up 9 in 60.1 innings with Chattanooga this past season.
Garcia pitched well in the Arizona Fall League, representing the Dodgers (along with Corey Seager) in the Fall Stars game. He would have easily been drafted, as a 23 year old with a track record and two serviceable pitches. He doesn't figure to need time in Triple A and should compete for a bullpen spot this spring.
Jarret Martin, LHP
Martin was a personal favorite of mine entering the 2008 draft out of high school. He decided to attend Bakersfield Junior College instead and the Orioles, who selected him in the 19th round in 2008, took him again in the 18th round in 2009. This time, he signed. Two and a half years later, the Dodgers traded Dana Eveland to the Orioles and Martin became a Dodger.
Jarret has a live arm, generally sitting in the mid 90s with his fastball. His breaking ball can be a reliable second pitch for him at times. However, his biggest issue right now is control. Thru four minor league seasons, he has a walk rate of 5.8 per 9, way more than one would deem passable. This year, with Chattanooga and the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League, he walked more batters (28) than innings pitched (25.2).
It looks like the Dodgers have given up on him as a starter and look to groom him as a power lefty out of the pen. However, he must show that he can harness his considerable stuff. Given his recent struggles, I seriously doubt a team would have committed a 25 man roster spot to him next season.
Pedro Baez, RHP
Once considered the Dodgers' best third base prospect, Baez made the expected move to the mound late last year and debuted in 2013 as a relief pitcher. The results were positive, though not extraordinary. In 58 innings, he struck out 55 batters, walked 23 and surrendered six home runs. In the Arizona Fall League, he pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, striking out 6 and walking 3.
The Dodgers have been busy with player conversions, including their two top picks from the 2009 draft Aaron Miller and Blake Smith. Their most notable (and successful) conversion project has been Kenley Jansen, who went from middling catcher to dominant closer. While the organization surely hopes Baez can make a similar transformation, the odds are against him reaching that level of production.
And that brings us to the decision to add him to the 40 man roster. He's been pitching for a single year. He isn't another Kenley Jansen. So why would an MLB team risk using a 25 man roster spot on a guy with so little experience? It does reflect on how the Dodgers view Pedro's future with the organization, but it's all about the future with him. In the present, he's a work in progress, not someone you'd give major league innings to.
What complicated today's personnel decisions was another move that was completely unexpected. The Dodgers waived reliever Shawn Tolleson, who was quickly claimed by the Rangers. Tolleson missed nearly all of the 2013 season with a back injury but still figured to have a future with the club. Apparently, LA's front office didn't think so. My only conclusion is Shawn's medicals didn't check out and the club didn't believe they could rely on him going forward.
So what I expected to be a somewhat non-eventful, predictable day turned out to give Dodger fans a lot to think about. Will Yimi Garcia contend for a bullpen job in 2014? Will Baez and Martin even make the majors next season? Is Shawn Tolleson's injury going to be a long term problem? Only time will tell. But, as of right now, today's moves leave us with more questions than answers.