Dodgers deal again, get Victorino from Phillies
GM Colletti able to make key moves while holding on to top prospects
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers fell a Ryan Dempster short of a complete makeover by Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but management felt the acquisition of veteran leadoff hitter Shane Victorino was a bigger get than Dempster was a miss.
"In a sense, he's been a thorn in our side since I've been out here," manager Don Mattingly said of Victorino, acquired from the Phillies for reliever Josh Lindblom, Minor League pitcher Ethan Martin and cash or a player to be named.
Victorino, 31, is a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. He will report to the club for Wednesday's day game, and Mattingly said he will bat leadoff. Primarily a center fielder, Victorino will start in left field, joining center fielder Matt Kemp and right fielder Andre Ethier in a set outfield with Gold Glove winners at each position.
"I don't want three guys changing," said Mattingly, who spoke by phone to Victorino. "He's good with it. He wants to play anywhere."
Behind Victorino in the batting order will be Mark Ellis, Kemp, Ethier and Hanley Ramirez.
"We've added to the middle of the lineup, to the top of the lineup and to the bullpen," said general manager Ned Colletti.
The Dodgers designated left-handed pitcher Michael Antonini to make room on the 40-man roster, and will need a 25-man roster spot when Victorino reports. They could send reliever Shawn Tolleson down, or make a more permanent move with infielder Juan Uribe or outfielder Bobby Abreu.
Because of the deal, Juan Rivera will lose playing time in the outfield and be reduced to platoon status at first base with James Loney.
Club chairman Mark Walter said last week the Dodgers weren't done bolstering their roster after trading for infielder Ramirez and left-handed reliever Randy Choate. Colletti made good on the promise, adding reliever Brandon League on Monday night and Victorino on Tuesday morning.
"If you're serious about winning," said Mattingly, "you've got to have the horses to win."
Colletti also kept intact what few top prospects the Dodgers have -- among them Zach Lee, Allen Webster, Chris Reed, Joc Pederson, Tim Federowicz and Alex Castellanos.
On Monday night, Colletti acquired League from the Mariners for Minor Leaguers Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom. League -- whom Mattingly said has "big-time stuff" -- created the bullpen depth that made Lindblom expendable.
"We're a better team today than we were yesterday, we were better yesterday than we were a week ago," said Colletti.
Of course, the player the Dodgers had been laser-focused on for months was Dempster, but that negotiation was a cat-and-mouse game in which the Dodgers refused to deal a top pitching prospect for a rental player.
The Cubs insisted on right-hander Webster and wouldn't cave, the standoff ending when Dempster accepted a trade to Texas. Colletti said he worked on the deal until the last minute, but never felt he was close to landing Dempster.
Some believe that Cubs management, annoyed with the Dodgers' stance, decided to deal Dempster to any team other than the Dodgers, or not at all. Dempster, having told the Cubs he would waive his veto rights only for a Dodgers trade, added a few clubs when it became clear there would be no Dodgers deal.
"We made a game effort and did the right thing," said Colletti. "It doesn't preclude us doing something later. It wasn't just one prize prospect, but another player too. We decided we're going to pass on that and move on."
"I don't think it's a fault of either team," said Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer. "We never got to the right point. Two teams have to agree on a value to make a trade, and I guess we never got to that point. It's no fault of theirs, it's no fault of ours. That's why trades are hard to make."
Colletti said he will look for a waiver deal, possibly for a starting pitcher not yet available. Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
Victorino gives the Dodgers a proven leadoff hitter with disruptive basestealing skills. He isn't quite the equal of the injured Dee Gordon in terms of sheer running speed, but he has considerably more pop in his bat and stays in the lineup as a switch-hitter.
He also provides the toughness and postseason experience that makes him the kind of player Dodgers fans have hated as an opponent, particularly after a heated playoff series with the Phillies in 2009.
"He's one of those guys who as an opposing player you don't want to see him across the field," said A.J. Ellis, "but you just always know he's somebody you want to have on your team. We are really, really happy to have him."
Victorino is batting .261 with nine homers, 24 steals and 40 RBIs in 101 games this year. He returns to his original club, the Dodgers having drafted the native Hawaiian in the sixth round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. But they then misjudged his potential and lost him in the Rule 5 Draft twice.
The Padres selected Victorino from the Dodgers in 2002, but returned him in May 2003 when he was batting .151. Victorino played in the Dodgers' Minor League system for the rest of '03 and the entire 2004 season, but was left unprotected again and selected by the Phillies in the '04 Rule 5 Draft.
"He was honestly thrilled when I called him," Colletti said of Victorino. "He said when he was here a couple weeks ago he was thinking how cool it would be to come back. He's in a great frame of mind."
Victorino earns $9.5 million this year and is eligible for free agency at the end of the season, but the Dodgers are thin in Major League outfield prospects and, considering Victorino's age, might be inclined to re-sign him.
When Gordon returns from a torn thumb ligament next month, he's likely to bat eighth in the order.
Lindblom, a second-round pick in 2008, briefly rose to an eighth-inning setup role until he hit a rough patch and was passed by Ronald Belisario. He is 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 48 games.
Martin was a first-round pick in 2008 who is 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA in his second season at Double-A Chattanooga.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.