Dodgers Get Stopgap Garland From Diamondbacks

In calling up knuckleballer Charlie Haeger and signing Vicente Padilla to a minor league deal, the Dodgers tried to fill the holes left in their rotation. But Los Angeles found a better stop-gap when it acquired 29-year-old righthander Jon Garland in a waiver deal with the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers sent Triple-A second baseman Tony Abreu to the Diamondbacks to complete the trade.

A two-time 18-game winner with the White Sox in ’05 and ’06, Garland hasn’t been the same pitcher since. Still, Garland has
been good enough to post an 8-11, 4.29 line with 83 strikeouts in started167
2/3 innings this year. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound righty started slowly this season, but he has been an effective pitcher since June 30. In 12 July and
August starts, Garland has gone fewer than six innings one time and allowed
more than three runs twice.

Garland is a sinker/slider pitcher who
induces a lot of ground balls. He also mixes in a changeup. Garland
doesn’t strike many batters out, but doesn’t give away many free passes
(52), and lives and dies on keeping the ball down. He has also
posted a combined 1-0 record in three starts against division rivals
San Francisco and Colorado this year, allowing eight runs in 22
innings. Garland has a mutual option for $10 million next year, but he
could also pitch his way to a new contract down the stretch.

The Young
Abreu, 25, is a switch-hitting second baseman from the Dominican Republic. He was an international sign in ’02 who slowly made his way through the Dodgers system. In 49 games for Triple-A Albuquerque this year, Abreu was hitting .351/.382/.609 with 16 doubles, 10 home runs and 44 RBIs. His power numbers this year are a bit of a mirage, thanks to the friendly hitting environment at Isotopes Park and in the Pacific Coast League, in general. He’s more of a gap-to-gap, doubles hitter.

Los Angeles’ No. 5-ranked prospect in ’07 puts the ball in play and can hit for a high average, but he is a bit of a free-swinger who has walked just 12 times in 2009. Abreu missed half of ’07 and all of ’08 with groin and hip injuries. Before those injuries slowed him down, he had above average speed. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Abreu was a shortstop early in his career, but profiles as a major league second baseman. He could also play some third base as an extra infielder.

With Hiroki Kuroda scheduled to return from the DL on Sunday, the Dodgers rotation suddenly looks solid. Garland provides Los Angeles with a serviceable fifth starter. The Diamondbacks weren’t going to keep Garland around next year, but picked up a potential starting second baseman of the future, especially considering they don’t have a long-term solution at the position.

Central 2009