Pitching-Needy Blue Jays Snag Mitch White in Prospect Swap With Dodgers

Mitch White
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A lot happened on a frantic deadline day, so you wouldn’t be blamed for missing out on this trade between the Dodgers and Blue Jays that came together down the stretch. But we at FanGraphs are dedicated to covering every deadline transaction, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. This is a four-player deal, with each team involved receiving two of them. Here’s the basic breakdown:

Blue Jays get:

Dodgers get:

First, let’s break down the Jays’ return. As expected, a great scramble occurred at the deadline for the limited amount of starting pitching available. Some teams, like the Yankees and Twins, emerged as clear winners. Others, like the Phillies, had to settle for the second-best but nonetheless decent options. Then we have the Blue Jays, who ended up with White. It’s understandable if this feels like a disappointing pickup, and while it’s better than nothing at all, with the right maneuvers, they could have done much better.

At the very least, White has experience starting in the majors. Prior to the trade, he served as the Dodgers’ five-and-dive starter and put up admirable results, with a 3.47 ERA and 4.06 FIP in 46.2 innings. That’s partially because his team seldom lets him face the order for a third time, but it’s also the point: For four or five innings, White does his job on the mound and then heads back to the dugout. With José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi still in search of consistency and Hyun Jin Ryu out for the season, White’s presence provides some respite for the Blue Jays.

Repertoire-wise, White throws up to five pitches, though only three of them are noteworthy. The four-seam fastball, his primary offering, has about league-average velocity (93–95 mph) and is characterized by poor shape. He’s weirdly gotten a ton of outs with it this season despite the lack of movement, though whether that’s due to luck remains to be seen. The slider, his secondary offering, is genuinely great, featuring two-plane break and solid velocity for a breaking ball (84–86 mph). Opposing hitters agree; when swinging at it, they’ve whiffed 33.8% of the time so far. White will sometimes remind us of his low-80s curveball, but he often lacks proper feel for the pitch.

The Blue Jays also get to take a chance on De Jesus, who was the 43rd-best Dodgers prospect on our board prior to the trade. A 20-year-old, switch-hitting third baseman from the Dominican Republic, his claim-to-fame is his raw power from a steep bat path. But it leaves him vulnerable to a variety of pitches; as proof, all you need is a look at his ghastly strikeout rates. With his young age and lack of experience against advanced pitching, De Jesus is essentially a lottery ticket: he could one day hit enough home runs as a big leaguer to compensate for his swing-and-miss, or the absence of a tool besides raw power could be his demise. He’s a one-trick pony for now, but it’s a fun trick!

With Andrew Heaney coming back from the injured list and White out of minor league options, the Dodgers no longer had a need for their back-end starter. Instead, they’ve parlayed him into an electric pitching prospect in Frasso. But for a change, let’s list the reasons to be skeptical of him. Frasso is 23 — young, but considering that he’s still in A-ball, not really; he lost precious years of development due to the pandemic and Tommy John surgery in 2021. His command is still questionable, and back when he was drafted, his secondaries lagged in comparison to his fastball.

But Frasso also hasn’t lost a step. Upon returning to the mound, he came out firing 97–98-mph fastballs, even touching 100, according to Statcast. The shape isn’t great for a four-seamer, but Frasso could very well be throwing a sinker. Either way, it’s no big deal. His changeup averaged 18 inches of fade (which is an amazing amount, even by big-league standards), and he showed off a revamped breaking ball as well. Once a slurve in the low-80s, it’s now a tight gyro slider in the mid-80s that had hitter after hitter down on strikes. The stuff likely had internal models going awooga.

There’s a lot to admire about Frasso, but he’s not a top pitching prospect just yet. His track record is still miniscule, and there’s reliever risk until that command gets tidied up. Accordingly, Eric Longenhagen has him as a 40+ FV — a bump from his original grade of 35+, but understandably conservative. But this is exactly the type of prospect the Dodgers love taking chances on, and one that could develop into the next Gavin Stone. It’s no wonder they chose Frasso out of so many options.

On the other hand, there’s little information out there regarding Brito, the Dodgers’ other return. Luckily, Eric came through in a pinch, telling me that he’s a projectable 6-foot-5 lefty who sits 89 with a decent curveball shape and has a clean over-the-top delivery. Numbers-wise, the 20-year-old currently has a 1.86 ERA and 2.17 FIP in 29 Dominican Summer League innings. Maybe the Dodgers like him for some specific reason, but it’s hard to tell as an outsider. Alternatively, he might have been a throw-in to balance out the trade.

With three low-level prospects involved in the deal, determining which team “won” the deal is both impossible and unnecessary. On a basic level, the Blue Jays got a much-needed starter who’s also under five years of team control, and we can assume the Dodgers collected a few pitching prospects that piqued their interest. Nothing groundbreaking here, but not every trade can be blockbuster. And if anything, make sure to keep your eye on Frasso.

Justin is a contributor at FanGraphs. His previous work can be found at Prospects365 and Dodgers Digest. His less serious work can be found on Twitter @justinochoi.

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Sammy Sooser
1 year ago

Sorry for the pedantry, but Alex De Jesus isn’t a switch hitter, he’s R/R

Sammy Sooser
1 year ago
Reply to  Sammy Sooser

(and thanks for the writeup!)