Tyler Glasnow trade grades: Dodgers pay high price adding oft-injured Rays ace to rotation

The Dodgers have followed up their industry-shaking acquisition of free-agent Shohei Ohtani with another big-time move, reportedly agreeing to trade for Rays ace Tyler Glasnow. 

World Series or bust, indeed. The deal reportedly is contingent on Glasnow, who was scheduled to become a free agent after the season, signing an extension with the Dodgers. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports the new contract is a five-year, $135 million deal, essentially four years and $110 tacked onto the $25 million he was already getting in 2024. 

That’s not a move you see often, having an extension as part of a trade. The full reported deal is Glasnow and outfielder Manuel Margot going from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles for starting pitcher Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny Deluca. 

Let’s take a look at what each side is getting. 

MORE: Everything to know about Shohei Ohtani’s $700 million contract

Tyler Glasnow trade grades

Dodgers grade: C-plus

  • Dodgers receive: SP Tyler Glasnow, OF Manuel Margot

The Dodgers absolutely had to find top-end starting pitching to shore up a rotation that’s experienced a decade’s worth of injuries to premium pitchers over the past few seasons. Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin have all spent significant time on the IL lately, and Buehler — a season-and-a-half removed from Tommy John surgery — is the only one who the Dodgers can reasonably expect to get anything from in 2024. Kershaw’s still unsigned and out for at least half of the year, though he’s said he wants to pitch again this season and it’s hard to imagine the career-long Dodger missing Year One of the Ohtani experience. 

Glasnow has elite stuff, no doubt. Over the past four seasons, he has a 3.31 ERA and 3.03 FIP, with an average of 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Thing is, though, he’s far from a sure thing. In those four seasons, he’s made a total of just 48 starts, and the 120 innings he threw for the Rays in 2023 were a career high, which is kind of hard to believe considering he made his MLB debut in 2016. His career has been a series of seriously impressive performances interrupted by constant trips to the IL. 

Maybe those are in the past, though. He’s 30 years old, and there are pitchers who have found success and consistency in the second halves of their careers. It could happen. 

The Dodgers mostly want Glasnow for his potential to miss bats in the postseason. Let’s not kid ourselves, that’s what matters for this franchise. The structure and talent is in place to survive pretty much anything and still reach the postseason — last year’s club had 17 different pitchers make at least one start, with nobody getting more than 24 and they STILL won 100 games — but winning a World Series is all that matters. Ohtani’s signing didn’t change that, though it maybe did ratchet up the intensity. 

MORE: Dodgers lineup projection with Shohei Ohtani

Glasnow, though, has been “meh” at best in October. He’s made 10 career playoff starts and has a 5.72 ERA in just 45 2/3 innings. He’s gotten strikeouts — 61 — but better lineups have been able to exploit his weaknesses. He’s walked 25 and given up 10 home runs, and the Rays were 3-7 in his 10 postseason starts. 

So, basically, the Dodgers need a pitcher who will help get them through rotational injury issues and help them win in October. Glasnow has never been able to stay healthy — again, he made his MLB debut eight years ago, so it’s not just about one or two injuries — and he’s struggled most when the playoff spotlight is on. He has the talent and the stuff to be exactly what the Dodgers need, but his track record doesn’t suggest he’ll produce. 

Pepiot is a high price to pay for a big ol’ fingers-crossed gamble.

Margot provides depth in the outfield — he’s strong defensively — but he’s probably not a starter and certainly not an upgrade, with a career 91 OPS+ and .310 on-base percentage. Not much power, either, with just eight homers in 699 PAs over the past two seasons with Tampa Bay.

Seems like he’s mostly involved in this trade to free up money — the Rays are reportedly sending along $4 million of his $10 million salary for 2024, and he has a club option for $12 million in 2025 (with a $2 million buyout) — and open up playing time for other outfielders the Rays have. He wasn’t going to start ahead of Randy Arozarena, Josh Lowe and Jose Siri, and there are other better bats on the big-league roster and in the system who need ABs. Heck, dealing Margot and his hefty (for the Rays) salary could help the club hold onto Arozarena for another year or two. 

It would not be shocking if the Dodgers move him before Opening Day in an effort to make a real upgrade.

Rays grade: A-minus

  • Rays receive: SP Ryan Pepiot, OF Jonny Deluca

The Rays were never going to sign Glasnow to an extension. Even if he was a 200-inning horse who was a rock in October, he wouldn’t fit their budget long-term, so everyone in the sport knew he’d be traded at some point, either now or at the midseason trade deadline. But the Rays couldn’t take the chance that he might get injured again, so of course they were going to deal him in the offseason. How do you maximize trade return for a guy like Glasnow when you have little to no leverage? By allowing the team that trades for him to work out an extension, so he’s not just a one-year rental, but a long-term commitment. 

It’s really pretty brilliant. Rarely happens in baseball, mostly because players who are close to free agency want to actually get there and explore their options on the market. But the Rays saw an opportunity — Glasnow’s from the LA area and who wouldn’t want to pitch for a team that makes the postseason every year — and took advantage of it.

So they trade Glasnow not for the return of one season, but multiple seasons. That’s a big difference. And in return, they get a hard-throwing 26-year-old starter ready to step into their rotation from Day One, with five seasons remaining of club control. Oh, and they got the Dodgers to take Margot and most of his salary, to boot.

That, folks, is how you continue to maintain a competitive roster year after year with a limited budget. 

MORE: Comparing Dodgers’ 2024 payroll to rest of MLB

Pepiot has thrown 78 1/3 innings for the Dodgers over the past two seasons, with 10 starts and seven relief appearances. In those innings, he has a 2.76 ERA, though his FIP isn’t nearly as tidy, at 4.76. A lot of that stems from control issues in 2022, when he walked an average of 6.7 per nine innings; he cut that number way down to 1.1 in 42 innings in 2023, though. 

He’s had some injury issues, too, missing a large chunk of 2023 with an oblique injury that limited him to just 64 2/3 total innings (22 2/3 at Triple-A, 42 in the bigs). That cost him his spring opportunity to compete for a spot in the rotation, but once he finally made it back, he finished the season strong.

Don’t be at all surprised when Pepiot throws more innings for the Rays over the next five years than Glasnow does for the Dodgers, with similar numbers but for a fraction of the $135 million cost. 

Deluca isn’t a premium prospect, but he can hit a home run or steal a base, and gets on pace at a high rate — 17 homers, 12 stolen bases, .390 on-base last year in 73 minor league games, split between Double-A and Triple-A — and he can play all three outfield positions. 

Sounds like the perfect Ray already, doesn’t he? Deluca played 24 games in the bigs for the Dodgers in 2023, hitting two homers with a .740 OPS.

Source : ESPN.com

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