MLB Trading Places: Octavio Dotel joins the Los Angeles Dodgers

Baseball PressContributor IJuly 31, 2010

CHICAGO - JUNE 30: Octavio Dotel #29 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the 9th inning on his way to a save against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 2-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers finally made a move to improve their shaky bullpen on trade deadline day, acquiring Pirates closer Octavio Dotel in exchange for James McDonald and minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo.  The Pirates will also send $500,000 to the Dodgers to offset some of Dotel's salary.

In Dotel, the Dodgers get a steady major league reliever who can adequately serve the role that the squad thought George Sherrill would heading into 2010.  Sherrill has struggled greatly this season, posting a 7.23 ERA in 23.2 innings of work, a surprising stat line considering his 0.65 ERA in 27.2 innings with the Dodgers late last season.  The team even attempted to release Sherrill via waivers, but he was not claimed by other clubs and rejoined the team.

Dotel, by contrast, has not dominated but has largely been effective as the closer for the bottom-dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates.  In 40 innings, the 36 year-old righthander has notched 21 saves and a 4.28 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts.  He's been a big strikeout pitcher throughout most of his career and has succeeded a lot outside of the 9th inning role, so he should be a steady if unspectacular addition to the Dodger bullpen.

Heading to Pittsburgh is Dodger prospect James McDonald, a long-time farmhand who has mostly failed in his attempts to find success with the major league squad.  McDonald has a lanky 6'5" frame and has averaged 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings throughout his minor league career, with a 3.49 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 572 total innings.  However, his results hasn't carried over to the major leagues much, as he has a 4.11 ERA and just 63 strikeouts in 76.2 major league innings, including an 8.22 ERA in 7.2 innings this season.  Time is ticking away for the 25 year-old prospect, but if he can find himself as a big league hurler, he could be an absolute steal for the Pirates in this deal.

Outfielder Andrew Lambo is talented but has a lot of question marks surrounding him this season.  He was ranked as Los Angeles' seventh best prospect entering 2010 and the club's top guy in 2009, according to Baseball America, but disappointed in 130 games at AA Chattanooga last season and hasn't impressed there this year either.  On top of that, Lambo served a 50 game suspension earlier this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, further tarnishing his once luminous prospect status.  He hit just .256 with 11 home runs and a .311 OBP in AA in 2009, and is hitting just .271 with 4 home runs and a .325 OBP in 181 at-bats there this season.  However, he hit .330 in the Arizona Fall League and hit .295 with 18 homers and 91 RBI between A and AA ball back in 2008, so the talent has surfaced from time to time.  He could be a solid major league hitter at the left field or first base spot eventually, but he'll need to stay out of trouble and find his power stroke to do so.

Overall, the Dodgers gave up a lot for an aging reliever, but the boost to their bullpen will help.  On the other side, the Pirates got a pair of good prospects who haven't blossomed as fast as expected, but could still do so and be key players in the near future.
Dan Port has been a writer and article editor for Baseball Press since the fall of 2009. He's a Wisconsin native and Los Angeles resident, as well as an aspiring novelist, moderately successful gambler, and avid craft beer aficionado. You can reach him at or on Twitter @danport.