“A year ago, he was worth a lot in the industry, [he] was traded for a lot,” said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. “The true talent level remains. We feel like getting him here, getting him with our guys, there’s a real compelling upside story.”
Dodgers get: OF Joey Gallo
Yankees get: RHP Clayton Beeter (Dodgers’ No. 15 prospect)
The Dodgers came into the day hoping to pull off a blockbuster trade for Juan Soto. With Soto joining the rival Padres, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman had to move on to another target.
Gallo, a two-time All-Star, has had a nightmare season with the Yankees, posting a .159 average with 12 homers. The 28-year-old is known for his power, but he hasn’t been able to tap into that this season. His average exit velocity is 88.4 mph this season, the lowest since the 2016 season when he was limited to just 17 games.
The outfielder is also known for his high swing-and-miss rate as he led the Majors in strikeouts last season. That has become an even bigger issue this year as Gallo has punched out 106 times in 233 at-bats. His 38.8% strikeout rate this season ranks in the bottom one percent in the league. In his short time with the Yankees, Gallo struck out 194 times over 140 games.
Despite Gallo’s severe struggles over the past year, the Dodgers are hoping that a change of scenery will help the slugger get back to his old form. Before joining the Yankees last July, Gallo was an All-Star and had 25 homers with an .869 OPS with the Rangers. He was also an All-Star in 2019, posting a career-high .986 OPS.
“I think, obviously, [he has] elite, off-the-charts power,” Friedman said. “Really good decision-making in the box, really good defender in the outfield who does have some swing-and-miss in his game, for sure. I think just getting to a different environment, our hitting guys are as good as it gets. … And throughout the year we’ve just been a little bit short in the outfield. So to add a really good defensive outfielder also helps.”
How the Dodgers find consistent playing time for Gallo will be interesting. With Chris Taylor still on the injured list, Gallo will split time with Trayce Thompson in left field. Gallo, who is hitting .102 against lefties, will not play against southpaws. He does, however, have 11 of his 12 homers off right-handers.
When Taylor returns, Gallo’s role could take a hit. The Dodgers could also have Taylor or Thompson play more center field, relegating a struggling Cody Bellinger into a platoon role. James Outman, who is off to a historic start to his career, could be the odd-man out once Taylor returns.
Until then, however, the Dodgers cleared up their position-player logjam by sending outfielder Jake Lamb to the Mariners for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Lamb posted a .770 OPS and hit two homers in 25 games with the Dodgers this season. Given that Gallo is a free agent at the end of the season, the Dodgers view the move as low-risk, high-reward.
“He’s going to play and I got to find a way to kind of divvy up playing time for all of these guys,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “My ask to him was just to kind of embrace this new opportunity, fresh start.”
Beeter, 23, has a 5.75 ERA in 18 appearances (16 starts) with Double-A Tulsa this season.