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Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Forsythe Back on Dodgers Radar

By Althea Pashman
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The January rumor mill for the Tampa Bay Rays is starting to heat up with the latest coming out of Los Angeles where the Dodgers have put Logan Forsythe back on their radar.

Since discussions between the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers for Brian Dozier have come to a stop, the Dodgers are now focused on a return engagement with the Tampa Bay Rays for Logan Forsythe. Besides Forsythe, the Dodgers are also considering Detroit’s Ian Kinsler for their second base opening.

Los Angeles is in need of a second baseman and a right-handed bat in their lineup. That is where Forsythe would fit tight as a glove. Of course, the Dodgers could consider a number of available free agents, one being the re-signing of Chase Utley – however, all of the available free agents and Utley are left-handed hitters and the Dodgers are hellbent on a right-handed hitter.

Rumors’ concerning Forsythe to the Dodgers is nothing new as prior to the trade deadline in August there was similar talk as the Dodgers were preparing for the impending departures of Justin Turner and Chase Utley to free agency. With a player such as Forsythe, who has played at second the majority of his career, could if necessary play third.

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The need for a second baseman became more apparent when the Dodgers traded their only other viable second baseman in Howie Kendrick not long after Utley and Turner hit free agency leaving them with this void.

In as much as the Tampa Bay Rays are always looking to add depth via prospects, the Dodgers would seem to be the one team that could provide the Rays with the players needed to make this trade a reality.

Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers President of Operations is extremely familiar with the Tampa Bay Rays having come from the organization two years ago. He is aware of their needs and wants, but more importantly knows how the Rays do business.

The Dodgers have financial flexibility; however, they still are concerned how their money is spent and looking at Forsythe and Kinsler’s current contracts, Forsythe would make more sense. First is the age factor as Forsythe is four and a half years younger (30), secondly he has one year left on his deal ($5.75 million in 2017) plus a club option for $8.5 million with a $1 million buyout in 2018.

Additionally, Forsythe can earn an additional $500,000 each for 550 and 600 plate appearances in 2017, and another $2.5 million based on plate appearances.

Kinsler is due $11 million next season with a $12 million team option for 2018 that contains a $5 million buyout if it is not picked up. However, Kinsler wants an extension in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause since the Dodgers are one of the teams on his list.

Dozier on the other hand is financially comparable to Forsythe in that he is under team control for the next two seasons and is owed $6 million in 2017 and $9 million for 2018. However, from an offensive point, Dozier can pack a punch.

2016 was a career year for Dozier as he posted a slash of .268/.340/.546 (.886 OPS) with 42 home runs and 99 RBI to go along with 35 doubles. Dozier has been a doubles machine, hitting 33, 33, 39 and 35 respectfully over the past four seasons. He is also a dead pull hitter, and like Forsythe, he feasts on left-handed pitching holding a career slash of .270/.343/.512/.854 with 35 HR and 95 RBI.

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Forsythe come out as one of the Tampa Bay Rays’ best overall players with a breakout 2015 season that saw him bat .281/.359/.444 with 17 home runs, nine stolen bases and solid defensive contributions at second base. In 2016, he hit .264/.333/.444 (113 OPS+) with 24 doubles and 20 home runs in 127 games, despite missing roughly four weeks with a hairline fracture of the shoulder.

Additionally, he has established himself as a high-end second baseman dating back to 2015. In 1,182 plate appearances since then, he has batted .273/.347/.444 with 37 home runs, 57 doubles and 15 stolen bases, and his 6.8 fWAR over this time ranks him ninth among the league’s second basemen.

More importantly though is that most of the damage that Forsythe has done in the past two years has come against lefthanders (.287/.350/.543 in 317 PAs), which is why the Dodgers are interested in him.

However, if the Tampa Bay Rays do decide to make a trade involving Forsythe they need to consider a few things – they lose one very productive leadoff hitter, a right-handed bat that kills lefties and fan favorite.

Nevertheless, in the long short of it, the Tampa Bay Rays do have Nick Franklin or Tim Beckham that could platoon at second as a stopgap. That is until their two capable though not ready for prime time players waiting in the wings to join the major league ranks in Willy Adames and Daniel Robertson arrives sometime in 2017, however this is not likely to happen.

Going back to a trade return from the Dodgers, Forsythe alone may not do it so the Rays may need to include starter (Drew Smyly or Alex Cobb) in order to get the best return value at this time.

According to MLBTradeRumors, talks between the Dodgers and Twins stalled because the Twins considered the Dodgers’ offer was not enough. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports via Twitter states that the Dodgers have shown willingness to include right-handed pitcher Jose De Leon as part of the package.

Undoubtedly, the Rays would certainly ask for De Leon along with a combination of some of their other top prospects that may or may not include Willie Calhoun (2B), Cody Bellinger (1B/OF) Alex Verdugo (OF) Brock Stewart (RHP) and Yadier Alvarez (RHP).

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: January is Best Month for Moves

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If the Rays turned down that

massive package

from the Houston Astros for

Chris Archer

last week, it is probably safe to say that they will do the same with any offer from the Dodgers for Forsythe.

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