With the July 31 trade deadline now less than six weeks away, the Los Angeles Dodgers and other contenders are currently in the process of determining which areas of the roster they will look to improve for a potential deep postseason run.
For the Dodgers, it is clear what their needs are. The club already boasts one of the league’s most talented starting rotations and lineups by many metrics, but one department in which they’ve garnered suboptimal results is the bullpen.
Los Angeles’ relief corps has underwhelmed to say the very least, as the group ranks near the middle of the pack in most statistical categories. Offseason acquisition Joe Kelly has struggled and Kenley Jansen is currently sporting the worst ERA of his career.
All of that considered, it is fair to assume the Dodgers will explore all avenues in upgrading the bullpen as the trade deadline inches closer. Luckily for the organization, a plethora of relief pitchers figure to become available in the weeks ahead.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman made it clear he will be aggressive when pursuing bullpen help, but also made note he will do so in a rational manner, via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez:
“We’re comfortable being aggressive,” Friedman said of his approach to acquiring bullpen help. “We’re not comfortable being stupid.”
Since becoming the Dodgers president of baseball operations at the end of the 2014 season, Friedman has had a knack for making midseason splashes. At previous trade deadlines, he consummated deals for the likes of Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and most recently, Manny Machado.
As for potential bullpen targets, the Dodgers have already internally discussed the possibility of pursuing Cleveland Indians closer Brad Hand. Though, there is no guarantee he will even be made available from now until the end of July.
The Indians currently sport a modest 37-34 record and find themselves only 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot in the American League. How they fare over the next six weeks will likely determine whether Hand is on the move.
Hand is just one of many prospective players the Dodgers figure to have an opportunity to acquire this summer. The club might not have to look too far for reinforcements, as the rival San Francisco Giants are expected to shop left-handers Will Smith and Tony Watson.
While trades between the two teams are rare, former Dodgers general manager and current Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi noted he is open to trading with his biggest rival under the right circumstances.