Dodgers DFA Marcus Thames, Trade for Juan Rivera

So here’s a thing:

The Dodgers acquired outfielder Juan Rivera from the Blue Jays for a player to be named later or cash considerations and designated Marcus Thames for assignment, announced the team.

First off, let’s not worry too much about the player to be named – Rivera was DFA’d himself on July 3 and would have cleared waivers in another day or so, so it’s not like the Jays had a whole lot of leverage there. On the field, this seems like a tiny upgrade; Rivera wasn’t doing a whole lot for Toronto at .243/.305/.360, but it’s still better than Thames for the Dodgers at .197/.243/.333 – when Thames was even healthy enough to play. Against LHP, Rivera was doing what Thames was supposed to do, hitting .327/.400/.509 in 65 PA. And while Thames is an atrocious fielder, Rivera has been a plus defender at times in the past, even playing 40 games in center field throughout his career (though he hasn’t started there since 2006). That’s probably no longer the case at 33, but at least there’s some positive history there. He’s also got some experience at first base, which is more valuable than you think, because with Casey Blake on the shelf, the Dodgers don’t have a viable righty option to pair with James Loney. Rivera should be expected to now play 1B against most lefties.

So on the field, this seems like an upgrade, if a barely visible one. The question I have is what this means in the larger scheme of things. On the financial front, Rivera was due $5.25m this year and has something like $2.4m remaining. The issue of whether the Dodgers actually have $2.4m to spend on anything aside, Rivera is almost certainly not a big enough upgrade on Thames to warrant spending that kind of additional money on. (Besides, since Rivera was about to clear waivers, thus sticking the Jays with the remainder minus the minimum salary if he signed elsewhere, you’d have to think the Jays agreed to eat some of the money – otherwise it makes no sense to trade for him rather than wait until he’s a free agent.) Dylan Hernandez reports the Dodgers will receive cash, but we don’t know how much yet.

The second concern is, does this mean the Dodgers still fancy themselves “buyers”? It’s a thought that’s always terrified me. I’m not ready to raise the red flags just yet, because this is a relatively small acquisition that probably won’t cost the team too much. Still, that’s a conversation we’re going to be having a lot between now and July 31.

In the short term, this deal probably makes the team better than they were this morning. Not by much, perhaps, but that’s good enough.

******

If I had known this was coming, I’d have held off for a bit on the previous post, but don’t miss the pitching and management midseason grades from earlier.

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  1. [...] winter. For now, we need to praise Rivera for his performance since arriving in Los Angeles;  was cautiously optimistic when he was picked up after being DFA’d by Toronto, saying that “this deal probably [...]

  2. [...] failed to hit and missed several more games with a calf strain. He pinch-hit twice in July and was finally DFA’d in favor of Juan Rivera over the All-Star break, eventually returning to the Yankees on a [...]

  3. [...] preceding it, but the acquisition of Rivera from Toronto certainly falls under that category. At the time, expectations were small, since he wasn’t doing a ton with Toronto before being DFA’d; [...]

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