Dodgers Bring Belliard to L.A. In Trade With Nats

In an effort to solidify their infield depth and bench for the stretch run, the Dodgers acquired 34-year-old second baseman Ronnie Belliard, who also has experience manning the infield corners. In return, the Nationals received a pair of minor league arms: righthander Luis Garcia and lefthander Victor Garate.

After playing sparingly earlier in the year, Belliard took over as the starter at second for Washington when Jim Riggleman assumed the team’s managerial duties. Since the All-Star break, Belliard has hit .315/.361/.506 with four home runs and 15 RBIs, though his season totals are .245/.293/.385 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. Belliard had a career year with the Indians in 2005, and was traded mid-season to the Cardinals the following year. Playing a reserve role for St. Louis, he won a World Series ring in 2006. The 5-foot-8, 214-pound Belliard is an average defensive player, and most of his value is tied to his ability to spray the ball around the field. He’s in the final season of a two-year contract he signed before last year.

The Young
The 24-year-old Garate signed with the Astros out of Venezuela in 2001. After spending six years in Houston’s organization, the Dodgers selected him in the 2007 minor league Rule 5 draft. Since changing organizations, Garate has had some success as a bullpen arm. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, he sits 88-92 mph with his fastball which he delivers from a low three-quarters arm angle. Though his fastball isn’t overwhelming, he creates deception thanks to his arm slot.

He also throws a sweeping, frisbee-like slider and a changeup. Appearing in 47 games for Double-A Chattanooga, Garate went 0-1, 2.04 with 56 strikeouts in 53 innings. He also collected four saves. Garate is more effective against righthanded hitters, so he doesn’t profile as a lefthanded specialist.

Garcia, 22, is a hard-thrower who was signed internationally by the Dodgers in 2004. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound righty sits in the low- to mid-90s with his fastball. Pitching for low Class A Great Lakes, Garcia was 5-3, 2.92 with 55 strikeouts in 71 innings. The groundball pitcher also collected five saves for the Loons. After being acquired, the Nationals sent Garcia to high Class A Potomac.

The Dodgers had all of the cornerstone pieces for a deep run in the playoffs, and after acquiring Belliard—along with Jon Garland and Jim Thome, all just ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline to finalize rosters for the playoffs—they have solid complementary pieces as well. It doesn’t hurt that Belliard has been hot of late. The Nationals aren’t going anywhere in 2009, and they know it, so Belliard was a nonessential chip. In return, they acquire two potential bullpen arms.