The Los Angeles Dodgers once again find themselves among the World Series favorites, and with the MLB trade deadline fast approaching on Aug. 2, they are sure to be busy looking to upgrade their roster.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has been aggressive in years past, pulling of trades to acquire Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Manny Machado, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill to try to give the team the best chance to win a World Series.
This season, the Dodgers’ biggest need appears to be in the bullpen. The team is without Daniel Hudson for the rest of the year and it is still unclear what they can expect from Blake Treinen, Tommy Kahnle and Danny Duffy when they return from their respective injuries.
However, this puts Friedman in a tough spot as acquiring relief pitchers at the trade deadline is not something he is keen on, via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:
“I hate trading for relievers at the deadline,” Friedman said. “It’s my least favorite thing to do. The acquisition cost is totally out of whack. So I like to avoid it as much as possible.”
In years past, the Dodgers have made deals for relievers, but Friedman has usually targeted those he feels might be undervalued, such as Tony Cingrani, Dylan Floro, John Axford, Tony Watson and Josh Fields. Friedman generally stays away from the big-name relief pitchers.
However, even that strategy has come back to hurt the Dodgers down the line. When they traded for Fields, they sent Yordan Alvarez to the Houston Astros. In the deal for Watson with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Friedman traded Oneil Cruz, who looks like one of the game’s young stars in his brief time at the Major League level.
Friedman has been at his best when acquiring relievers off waivers or on Minor League trades. Last season, the Dodgers claimed Evan Phillips, who has now become arguably their best pitcher in the bullpen.
Friedman has also had success with the likes of Brandon Morrow, Yency Almonte and Phil Bickford, who were all acquired on waivers or Minors deals.
The Dodgers are likely going to add a reliever or two before the MLB trade deadline, but if history is any indication, Friedman isn’t going to make a move for the best one available and will instead look for undervalued arms.
Phillips emerging for Dodgers bullpen
Phillips owns a career 5.04 ERA in 100 innings, but this season the right-hander has posted a 1.65 ERA across 32.2 innings while striking out 39 hitters.
His success has earned him the trust of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and has made him a key setup man for the club.
“He’s a dude. Evan’s a dude now,” Roberts said. “He’s got a good story. And so we’re lucky to have him. I don’t know where we’d be without him.
“I just love his heartbeat. He’s got a great head and he’s got good stuff. So I feel comfortable putting Evan in any spot versus any hitter.”
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