Is Dodgers' Victorino or Giants' Pence More Crucial Grab from the Phillies?
The rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants is already one of the most celebrated in baseball. Both teams fighting for the NL West title will certainly add to the rivalry's mythology in years to come.
Interestingly, both teams have made big acquisitions in the hours before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. Even more intriguing is that each team got a player from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Early Tuesday, the Dodgers picked up center fielder Shane Victorino in exchange for relievers Josh Lindblom and Double-A pitcher Ethan Martin. (Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown was the first to break the official news on Twitter.)
Shortly thereafter, the Giants reportedly agreed to a deal for right fielder Hunter Pence. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman was the first to tweet that a Pence trade was completed, though KPIX-TV in San Francisco actually reported a deal being made late Sunday night.
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz and Double-A catcher Tommy Joseph are among the Giants players reportedly going to Philadelphia in return.
So which of the two NL West rivals made the better deal? Which acquisition will end up helping more during each team's push for the playoffs and into the postseason?
Victorino to the Dodgers
The Dodgers needed a leadoff hitter and left fielder, as the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez writes, but can Victorino fill each of those roles capably?
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Victorino isn't a classic leadoff hitter. During his career, he's batted .252/.322/.420 at the top of the batting order. However, that's an upgrade for the Dodgers, whose leadoff hitters have batted .221/.279/.276 this season.
Additionally, Victorino hasn't played left field since 2006. The presumption is that a center fielder has the range and athleticism to adapt to either of the corner outfield spots, and Victorino shouldn't be an exception to that. Playing next to Matt Kemp should ease the transition as well.
Victorino will also be a left field upgrade with his bat. Dodgers left fielders have batted .259/.329/.348 with four home runs and 36 RBI this season. Victorino's season numbers (.261/.324/.401, nine homers, 40 RBI) show that he's an upgrade. With 24 stolen bases, he'll also bring some speed to the lineup that's been missing with Dee Gordon's injury.
Pence to the Giants
With 17 home runs, Pence is now the Giants' leading home run hitter this season. His 59 RBI is the second-most on the team. The power numbers will likely change with a move to AT&T Park, but Pence could still hit for extra bases with his doubles total sure to increase.
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Right field is the hole in the Giants outfield, which makes Pence a perfect fit alongside Melky Cabrera in left and Angel Pagan in center.
Pence will also fit nicely in San Francisco's lineup, likely batting fifth behind Buster Posey. He could also bat cleanup or bat sixth behind Pablo Sandoval if and when he returns from a hamstring injury. That would give manager Bruce Bochy a left-right-left-right combination that would be a tough matchup in late innings.
Unlike with Carlos Beltran last year, the Giants will likely keep Pence for longer than two months. He has one more arbitration-eligible season, keeping him under club control through 2013 (though his salary next year could be expensive, perhaps $14 million).
Who Gave Up More?
At first glance, it appears that the Dodgers gave up more to get Victorino. Lindblom has been one of the Dodgers' best relievers all season. But the team traded for Brandon League Monday night and got Randy Choate in the Hanley Ramirez deal, and those two should replace Lindblom more than capably.
Martin also looks like a good pitching prospect. In 20 starts for Double-A Chattanooga, he's compiled an 8-6 record and 3.58 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 118 innings. However, he's not one of the Dodgers' top 10 prospects, according to publications like Baseball America.
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Meanwhile, the Giants gave up two expendable pieces. Nate Schierholtz is a major league outfielder, but didn't provide the pop the Giants wanted from right field.
And while Joseph is San Francisco's No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America, and young catchers are extremely valuable, he's blocked at the big league level by Posey and Hector Sanchez. Pieces like that are used to acquire major league talent, which is exactly what happened here.
Of course, a team can never have enough pitching. But Seth Rosin is a Single-A pitcher that is years away from helping the major league club.
The Giants look to have given up more talent to get Pence—and rightfully so, as Pence is the better player. But the pieces they lost may not be missed as much down the line. The Dodgers may have given up lesser players, but those pitchers could be needed in the future.
Both the Dodgers and Giants filled holes in their lineups with their respective trades. But the Dodgers arguably needed Victorino more. Left field was a spot in the lineup that absolutely needed an upgrade.
Pence obviously helps the Giants tremendously, but the Giants would have been OK without him. San Francisco had the luxury of bringing in a better talent because they had the talent to spare. Pence makes the Giants lineup even better than it already was, adding to a team that wins mostly on the strength of its pitching.
The Dodgers' urgency to get Victorino was greater than the Giants' for Pence. The Giants got the better player, but had to give up far more to get him. Ultimately, the Dodgers made the better deal by filling more of a need.
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