LOS ANGELES -- After being rumored for months to be in heated pursuit of Minnesota second baseman James Dozier, the Dodgers pivoted on Monday and acquired Tampa Bay's John Forsythe for right-handed pitching prospect Jose De Leon.Without providing specifics, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated the additional "acquisition costs"
LOS ANGELES -- After being rumored for months to be in heated pursuit of Minnesota second baseman James Dozier, the Dodgers pivoted on Monday and acquired Tampa Bay's John Forsythe for right-handed pitching prospect Jose De Leon.
Without providing specifics, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated the additional "acquisition costs" of acquiring a different player (Dozier) wasn't in the club's best interest. In addition to De Leon, the Twins reportedly wanted another prime prospect for Dozier, who slugged 42 homers last year.
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So Friedman instead used starting pitching depth to acquire a solid 30-year-old veteran that has the ability to plug three holes the Dodgers have -- second base, right-handed run production and leadoff.
"We feel we have a tremendous amount of depth on the prospect pitching side and it allowed us to address our most acute need," he said.
Forsythe hit .264 with a .778 OPS, a career-high 20 home runs and 52 RBIs in 2016. His splits against righties and lefties were virtually identical. He has a .255 career batting average with 55 homers and 203 RBI in 618 games over six seasons. He is owed $7 million this year with an option for 2018 at $9 million or a $1 million buyout.
• Forsythe's career statistics
Dodgers management is very familiar with Forsythe. Friedman acquired him from the Padres when he ran the Rays in 2014. Manager Dave Roberts coached Forsythe when they were in San Diego, along with current Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes.
"We feel he will fit in incredibly well with the fabric of our group," said Friedman. "On the field and off the field he's a great fit in terms of the type of player he is -- a grinder, a professional hitter, can really handle left-handed pitching as well as right, is a good base runner. The type of player we needed to be aggressive to add to our current group."
Friedman said re-signing veteran Rich Hill in December created trade depth and "emboldened" the club to offer a Major League-ready pitcher like De Leon.
De Leon, a late-blooming 24th round pick, was ranked as the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect (and No. 33 overall in the game) by MLBPipeline.com. He went 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA in four starts for the Dodgers in 2016.
In addition to the likely starting four of Clayton Kershaw, Hill, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias, the Dodgers have veteran starters Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu, plus prospects Thomas Stripling, Brock Stewart, Yadier Alvarez, Walker Buehler and Jordan Sheffield.
The Dodgers went into last season expecting Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley to share the position. Kendrick has since been traded to Philadelphia and Utley is a free agent. Friedman reiterated the team has not ruled out bringing back Utley for a bench role and he would have returned "months ago" except for the club needing a right-handed bat.
The acquisition blocks right-handed hitter Enrique Hernandez, a utility man with second-base experience.
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Forsythe has emerged as a fine table-setter across the past two campaigns, averaging 18 long balls per year with a .273/.347/.444 slash line. Now set to hit atop a Dodgers lineup that scored 53 more runs than the Rays in '16, the 30-year-old could cross home 90 times and become a staple in shallow-league lineups. Furthermore, Forsythe's leadoff-spot presence may boost Corey Seager's and Justin Turner's RBI opportunities.
De Leon will likely battle Matt Andriese for Tampa Bay's fifth-starter gig. With a 2.61 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and an 11.6 K/9 rate in Triple-A last season, the youngster is a high-upside option in the late rounds of mixed-league drafts. Meanwhile, utility man Nick Franklin -- who hit .270 with a half-dozen homers and swipes in 191 plate appearances last year -- could earn deep-league relevancy by filling the Rays' new second-base void.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.