Adding needed depth to their Minor League system, the Dodgers on Sunday sent outfield prospect Trayvon Robinson to Boston for catching prospect Tim Federowicz, right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Fife and right-handed reliever Juan Rodriguez. Robinson then was dealt by Boston to the Mariners for Erik Bedard and Josh Fields.
With veterans Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro eligible for free agency after this season, the only other catcher in the system whom the Dodgers consider Major League-ready is A.J. Ellis, the primary catcher at Triple-A Albuquerque, who will be out of options next year.
Ellis either makes the club next spring or can be claimed by another club. Either way, the Dodgers needed a catcher they could control, so Federowicz becomes the next Ellis and even profiles similarly.
"We needed catching," said general manager Ned Colletti. "Tim is a very good defensive player, a good leader, strong behind the plate and his offense is a work in progress.
"You look at catchers, they're hard to find. You can't just move guys behind the plate. Along with A.J. Ellis, we're lean in the system. This was desperately needed."
Colletti said the Dodgers had targeted Federowicz earlier in the year, and he apparently was mentioned in discussions the Dodgers had with Boston for Kuroda, who ultimately invoked his no-trade clause. But the Dodgers continued to push for Federowicz.
Colletti said Federowicz would report to Triple-A, but when asked if that meant Federowicz had passed Ellis, he said: "I can't tell you that."
The 23-year-old Federowicz was a seventh-round pick by the Red Sox who was hitting .275 with seven home runs and 50 RBIs at Double-A Portland this year.
The 24-year-old Fife, a third-round pick in 2008, was 11-4 with a 3.66 ERA for Double-A Portland. He will report to Double-A Chattanooga.
"He's a pitchability guy," said Colletti. "He knows how to pitch. He throws 88-91 [mph]."
The 22-year-old Rodriguez was 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA at Class A Greenville, but is averaging more than 13 strikeouts per nine innings. He will report to Class A Great Lakes.
"He has a power arm, a strikeout guy," Colletti said of the 6-foot-5 Rodriguez. "He needs to refine his secondary pitches and can be a setup guy."
Robinson, a 10th-round pick of the Dodgers in 2005, was hitting .293 with 26 homers and 71 RBIs at Triple-A Albuquerque. Despite the production, he hadn't convinced management that those numbers would translate similarly in the Major Leagues.
Nonetheless, the deal caught manager Don Mattingly by surprise.
"A little bit," he admitted. "Deadline trades are usually about guys who will be free agents, Fukey [Rafael Furcal] and Hiro [Hiroki Kuroda]. I didn't think about one of our Minor League guys. I'm sure we got some quality to fill some holes."
Robinson played for Mattingly in the Arizona Fall League.
"My impressions were that he's a strong guy, runs good, switch-hitter," he said. "What I like about him is he keeps getting better and better."
Colletti said it "wasn't easy to trade Trayvon," but added that Jerry Sands was considered by the organization as a better prospect.
"[Robinson] is not a top guy, [Dee] Gordon is our top guy, but he has a chance to have a good career," Colletti said. "I wouldn't call him a top guy. But it's easier to find outfielders. Sands is on the verge of being here a year from now. Right now, Jerry is probably a step ahead of Trayvon."
Sands, a natural outfielder, also is splitting time at first base for Albuquerque.