Moments before the 4 p.m. ET deadline for deal without waivers, the Dodgers made the biggest addition of Monday’s trading frenzy. Shortly after acquiring future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, the Dodgers bolstered their lineup by acquiring shortstop Julio Lugo from the Devil Rays in exchange for outfield prospects Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza.
Lugo, 30, spent most of the first month of the season on the disabled list nursing an abdominal strain. When healthy, he’s among the most productive offensive middle infielders in the game, as illustrated last year when he led big league shortstops in doubles (36) and stolen bases (39). He has continued to hit in 2006, batting .308/.373/.498 with 12 homers, 27 RBIs and 18 steals in 73 games. He’s an average defender, with a plus arm and range but a tendency to make erratic throws. Lugo’s athleticism is one of his best attributes, and it should allow him to effectively play second or third base for the Dodgers. Los Angeles already has Rafael Furcal at shortstop and needs a second baseman with Jeff Kent sidelined by an oblique injury. Lugo is making $4.95 million this year as part of a two-year, $8.2 million contract and can become a free agent at season’s end. The Devil Rays tried to sign him to an extension, but when negotiations stalled, dealing him became a priority. He’s a career .279/.343/.408 hitter with 68 homers, 326 RBIs and 133 steals in 871 games.
Lugo’s departure could open the door for Tampa Bay to promote B.J. Upton from Triple-A to play shortstop. Ben Zobrist, acquired in the Aubrey Huff trade earlier this month, is another considersation.
In the 21-year-old Guzman, Tampa Bay received one of the game’s toolsiest prospects. As with Edwin Jackson, whom the Rays landed in a January trade with the Dodgers, Guzman’s stock was slipping when he left one coast for another. His raw power is his best tool, his hitting ability and his arm strength are also plusses and his speed is average. He began his career as a shortstop and has seen time at third base this year at Triple-A Las Vegas, but at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, he profiles best as a first baseman or corner outfielder. At Vegas, he was hitting .297/.353/.464 with 11 homers, 55 RBIs and nine steals in 85 games. He went 4-for-19 in eight games in his first major league action in June.
Pedroza, 22, signed as a third-round pick out of Cal State Fullerton in 2005. He has above-average power and a feel for the strike zone, though he needs to improve his approach. He opened at low Class A Columbus and was impressive against younger competition, hitting .281/.437/.562 with 21 homes and 75 RBIs in 89 games. He has gone just 6-for-40 a promotion to high Class A. He has arm strength but is a below-average runner.