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The Dodgers have been looking to fill a void in left field all season. Los Angeles finally got their man when they received Shane Victorino from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin just before today’s MLB trade deadline.
Los Angeles used a variety of players in left field this season including Bobby Abreu, Juan Riviera, Jerry Sands and Scott Van Slyke. None of them provided enough production to prove worthy of the full-time starting job.
Although Victorino is having a down year, batting just .261 with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 2012, he—like Hanley Ramirez—represents a significant upgrade over what the Dodgers were getting from the position before, even if his best days are behind him.
Victorino has slowed as a defensive center fielder, but a move to left could help mitigate the effects of that decline. He still adds a needed element of speed to the everyday lineup, and his role as an everyday player gives Dodgers manager Don Mattingly more flexibility with his bench.
The 25-year-old Lindblom was a solid middle relief pitcher for Los Angeles this year, posting a 3.02 ERA while striking out 43 batters in 47.1 innings pitched. But the acquisition of Brandon League from Seattle made him expendable.
The 23-year-old, right-handed Martin is a former first-round draft pick who has good velocity on his fastball, reaching the mid- to upper-90s at his best. He has a good curveball, but no reliable third pitch that would translate to him being a starter at the major league level. He could become a very good relief pitcher in the near future.
The trade market for left fielders wasn’t that great, so Victorino represents a solid acquisition who will become a free agent after the season, clearing the way for Yasiel Puig to take over in left field in 2013. Martin was not ranked among the top 20 prospects in the the Dodgers' minor league system, so the impact of his loss is minimal.
The Dodgers needed to do something to improve their lineup, and Victorino may very well have been the least flawed option from a pool of available players that included Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs and Jeff Francoeur of the Kansas City Royals.
Trade Grade: B