Champs swap star closer Javier for slugging 3B Rushford
The defending world champion Fargo Dirtbags wasted little time in making a big splash this offseason by acquiring one of the premier hitters available on the trade market in 3B David Rushford. Rushford hit .303 with 53 HR and 138 RBI last season for Washington and has 251 HR and a .925 OPS for his 5-year career.
But the acquisition came at a steep price in the form of the Dirtbags' star 23-year-old closer Alex Javier. Javier was 12-3 with 34 saves and a 3.05 ERA last season for Fargo and was a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award in his first full season in the major leagues. The trade of Javier means that 3-time All-Star closer Bert Price, who has served as a setup guy to Javier since season 3, will slide back into the closer role.
The move also means that the club will not re-sign free agent 3B Leo Miller. Miller hit .281 with 26 HR and 98 RBI in his only season with Fargo, helping them to their first World Series title.
The other big move to this point in the offseason saw the Dirtbags deal Willis Petrov to Trenton for relief prospect O.T. Fleming. Petrov was limited to 305 at bats last season and with Rolando James settling into the role as the backup LF/1B, it was apparent that Petrov's time in Fargo was all but over. Dirtbag management has also placed reliever Paul Leon on waivers and should he be claimed, Fleming may start the season with the major league squad. If not, he'll likely begin the year in AAA.
The moves are a clear signal that Fargo has every intention of becoming The Bigs' first repeat world champions. Whether or not they miss Javier's arm at the tail end of ballgames remains to be seen but one thing is certain -- the 2-5 hitters in their lineup, Alex Lim, Arnold Hunter, Rushford and William Bolling, will ensure that this year's team boasts the best lineup in the franchise's history.