The Dodgers finally acquired an everyday second baseman on Monday afternoon when they announced the trade of top pitching prospect Jose De Leon to the Tampa Bay Rays for right handed hitting Logan Forsythe. The trade was a straight one for one deal. The Dodgers tried to get Brian Dozier from the Twins who I and many others felt would have been a huge difference maker, but unfortunately the Twins wanted more than the Dodgers were willing to give up. Instead the Dodgers jumped on Forsythe who had reportedly been on their radar for much of the offseason.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 23, 2017
So let’s talk about Forsythe for a minute. The right handed hitting infielder is 30-years old and hails from Memphis, Tennessee. Forsythe attended the University of Arkansas, and was originally drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2008 amateur draft. Forsythe made his MLB debut in 2011 for San Diego, and spent his first three seasons with the Padres as a part time player.
On January 22 of 2014 Forsythe was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays along with minor leaguers Matt Lollis, Maxx Tissenbaum, Matt Andriese, and Brad Boxberger for Jesse Hahn, and Alex Torres. In his first two seasons with the Padres Forsythe batted .213 in his first season, and .273 in his second season. He played in just 62 games in his first season in 2011. He played in 91 games in 2012, and posted slugging percentages of .287 and .390 respectively. Forsythe slugged 12 home runs in his first three seasons with the Padres, and batted just .214 in 2013. His .613 OPS that season must have been a contributing reason for the Padres giving up on him and sending him to Tampa Bay. You could say he was a late bloomer.
Forsythe came into his own, during his time with the Rays. In 2014 he garnered 336 plate appearances while playing in 110 games. He batted just .223, but the Rays stuck with him. The 2015 season was his breakout season. Forsythe played in 153 games and slashed .281/.359/.444 and posted an .804 OPS with 17 home runs and 68 runs driven in. Last season Forsythe belted 20 home runs and slashed .264/.333/.444 with a .778 OPS and 52 runs driven in while playing in 127 games.
Forsythe’s power has surged over the past two seasons. He’s smacked 37 home runs since 2014, and has driven in 120 runs in that time span. He’s posted the highest slugging percentages and OPS of his career since 2014. He probably won’t hit 20 home runs playing at Dodger Stadium, but it could be reasonable to expect 12-15 long balls. Steamers projections predict 12 home runs and 50 runs batted from Forsythe in 2017.
Forsythe’s on-base skills and batting dipped a bit in 2016. His on base percentage fell nearly 30 points and his batting average dipped almost 20 points. An increase in power could have something to do with that. His strikeout percentage rose from 18.0 % to 22.4% from 2015-2016. Steamers predicts a 20.4 strikeout percentage in 2017. Forsythe recorded 111 strikeouts in 2015, and 127 in 2016. Forsythe drew 46 walks in 2016 and 55 in 2016. There’s some work to be done, but Forsythe is definitely capable of putting up decent on-base skills while making contact at a reasonable clip. His line drive percentages did go up from 19.8% to 22.8% during the last two years.
Forsythe comes with a very solid track record against left handed pitching. He has slashed .278/.343/.475 (179 for 644) with an .818 career OPS. Forsythe has slugged 24 home runs and driven in 80 runs against left handers.
Can Forsythe bat lead-off? Forsythe is batting .260 with a .760 OPS in the lead-off spot. He’s swatted 22 home runs from atop the lineup. When he leads off an inning he is batting .275 with 19 home runs.
Forsythe has just a .665 career OPS with runners in scoring position. He bats .229 with 8 home runs and 139 runs driven in. Meanwhile he has feasted on bases empty stats, batting .272 with 38 home runs with the bases empty.
While it’s hard to judge defensive metrics, Logan Forsythe comes highly rated as one of the better defenders at the keystone position. According to UZR and defensive runs saved, Forsythe has a steady glove while having limited range. His UZR rating in 2015 was a -7 but he registered a +8 defensive runs saved. That year he posted a .985 fielding percentage and committed just 7 errors in 126 games at second base. In 2016 he had a -8 UZR rating with a +1 defensive runs saved. In 118 games Forsythe posted a .981 fielding percentage and committed just 9 errors.
Overall Forsythe has played 456 career games at second base and has +4 defensive runs saved with a .980 fielding percentage. He’s made 36 errors and turned 202 double plays. He averages about 10 errors per season. Simply put while he is a bit slow, he doesn’t make many mistakes. You could say he makes the routine plays. That may not appear sexy but it is something that will help the middle defense considerably.
Forsythe has also seen time at third base (56 games), first base (27 games), shortstop (19 games), and played 16 games (14 in left field, and 2 in right field) in the outfield.
Other than missing four weeks with a hairline fracture of the shoulder in 2016, he’s remained relatively healthy. He had a slight case of Plantar Fasciitis while with the Padres in 2013. Otherwise he’s been pretty dependable. No major surgeries or injuries to speak of, as far as I know.
Forsythe signed a 2-year 10.25 million dollar contract with Tampa Bay in the winter of 2015. Forsythe will earn 5.75 million in 2017, which is the last year of his contract. Forsythe also has an 8.5 million dollar club option for 2018 that can vest if he reaches a certain amount of plate appearances. There is also a 1 million dollar buyout should the Dodgers wish to exercise.
This might not be as sexy as a move as trading for Brian Dozier would be, but this is the kind of move the Dodger front office typically makes. Trading one top prospect for an overall solid yet not flashy player. Forsythe has had two good seasons in a row, and profiles as a very good defender. His offensive numbers are not the greatest, (he doesn’t have the power that Dozier has nor the base running ) yet he still is fully capable (113 Wrc+ in 2015, and 125 Wrc+ in 2016) of putting up league average to above league average offense with some decent pop. He also was very well liked in the clubhouse when he was with the Rays. Apparently Forsythe had mixed emotions about leaving the Rays for Los Angeles.
“I would say there are mixed emotions,” Forsythe told the Tampa Bay Times. “It was tough. The call was tough.”
The question I ask you guys is this… would you have given up a top prospect like Jose De Leon for Forsythe? The best thing about this move is that Kike Hernandez will not be the starting second baseman for the Dodgers in 2017 as I had originally feared. I would trade a hundred Jose De Leons’ to ensure that Hernandez never starts another game at second base again.
Welcome to the Dodgers Logan Forsythe!