The Los Angeles Dodgers will be without Walker Buehler for the foreseeable future as he recovers from a strained right flexor tendon, which could force the team to make a trade to bring in another starter.
Buehler was shut down from throwing for at least six to eight weeks while he recovers. And once he resumes throwing, the right-hander will need to build his arm back up as if he’s going through Spring Training.
That will likely keep Buehler out until September, assuming he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. With the MLB trade deadline roughly eight weeks away, the Dodgers may need to decide on acquiring another starting pitcher right around the time Buehler could begin throwing.
But for the time being, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the club will look to their internal options to replace Buehler, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
For now, Friedman says he is “focusing on our internal guys” to absorb the loss of Buehler.
Fortunately for the Dodgers, both Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson have stepped up this season and become invaluable members of the rotation while pitching at All-Star levels. Also, Clayton Kershaw just return from his injury and Andrew Heaney could be back within a week.
Along with Julio Urías, that’s five pitchers to fill out the Dodgers rotation, but they would also be counting on all of them to remain healthy for multiple months. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities, but the Dodgers under Friedman have never liked to be short on depth, especially within their pitching staff.
Organizational depth options include Mitch White, Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Bobby Miller and Andre Jackson, but it would be asking a lot if they needed to rely on any of them to fill a rotation spot down the stretch for more than a game here or there.
The Dodgers are also awaiting the returns of Dustin May and Danny Duffy from the 60-day injured list, but there is no telling how effective they will be coming off their respective surgeries. Duffy is also more likely to be considered as a bullpen option rather than building him up as a starter.
Although the Dodgers will remain patient now, it’s at least partially because the trade market is not going to be very active until closer to the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Getting a deal done now would require a large overpay, especially for an impact starter.
But regardless of their patience now, the Dodgers will almost assuredly be involved in the starting pitching market once the deadline approaches, and the rumors should pick up after the All-Star game on July 19.
Possible Dodgers trade targets
The two most popular starting pitchers expected to be available for trade this season are a pair of right-handers in Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo and the Oakland Athletics’ Frankie Montas, who the Dodgers traded as part of their deal for Rich Hill in 2016.
Other options include Tyler Mahle and Mike Minor (Reds), Zack Greinke and Brad Keller (Kansas City Royals), Merril Kelly (Arizona Diamondbacks), Jordan Lyles (Baltimore Orioles), Jose Quintana (Pittsburgh Pirates), Martin Perez (Texas Rangers), Drew Smyly (Chicago Cubs) and Michael Pineda (Detroit Tigers).
But as always, other teams will fall out of the postseason race and more names will become available closer to the deadline.
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