It was two years ago today that the Dodgers shocked us all with a very different trade.
The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired minor league IF Jeter Downs, minor league RHP Josiah Gray and RHP Homer Bailey from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for C/IF Kyle Farmer, outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, LHP Alex Wood and cash considerations.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) December 21, 2018
The Dodgers traded a lot of salaries and known big leaguers for two prospects most of us had not heard of and Homer Bailey. He was part of the trade as a contract dump and was released soon afterward. Another fun fact – the trade happened on Josiah (JoJo) Gray’s 21st birthday. Little did any of us know the long-term impact of that trade.
As expected Jeter Downs started the 2019 season at High-A and Josiah Gray started at Low-A. Downs had a tough start statistically his first month but the contact was good. Right before Downs started to get hot he answered a few questions for me.
Gray dominated at Great Lakes right off the bat and was promoted to the Quakes in early May. I could see that he was on a fast path to getting promoted to Double-A ball so I made sure to check out a start of his in late June. He was brilliant and I was able to write about it later. Soon he was sent to Tulsa where he continued to excel. In August, Downs followed Gray to Tulsa as he rebounded strongly from his rough start. By mid-season, they had both climbed up the prospect charts. When they were acquired from the Reds, Downs was number 7 and Gray was number 16. By the Spring of 2020 both were in the Dodgers top 5 and were in the overall top 100.
The Mookie Betts Trade
After one attempt to trade for Mookie Betts the Dodgers were forced to include Jeter Downs to finish the trade. That was something I didn’t want to happen but the cost for a top 5 player is immense. Downs immediately became the Red Sox top prospect and the Dodgers went on to win the 2020 World Series. There is no doubt in my mind that the original trade that brought Downs to the Dodgers set things in motion for them to trade for Betts.
Dodgers Top Prospect
I you take a look at the current prospect list for the Dodgers you will see that Josiah Gray is now their number one prospect (as of December 21, 2020). If you look at the Dodgers starting pitching it looks to me like he could get a chance to make his debut in 2021.
Mitchell White and Gray seem to be the next guys to be ready as none of the above has had a complete 162 game season in a while. I anticipate Gray will start the 2021 season in AAA and will be ready to be called up at any time.
The trade that brought Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs was one of the most controversial trades amongst Dodgers fans in a long time. Now, most are now starting to understand how Dodgers President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman operates. He has a vision that he refuses to deviate from. Within a little more than a year he was able to trade for a future number one prospect and Mookie Betts. That is the work of a Hall of Fame executive.
The Dodgers have had a lot of prospects graduate so it is nice that they were able to re-stock a bit with the Gray/Downs trade. I anticipate that Gray will be one of the next prospects to graduate.