While the Los Angeles Dodgers made a small move to acquire Tyler White from the Houston Astros on Wednesday, the expectation remains that they will trade for a top relief pitcher to strengthen their struggling bullpen.
They have until the July 31 trade deadline to do so, and thus far have been connected to the likes of Shane Greene, Felipe Vazquez and multiple San Francisco Giants relief pitchers.
While trade talks have yet to lead to something substantial, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed confidence that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman will make an impact move before the deadline.
“Our front office has shown that if there’s a need, that we have no problem in trying to address it,” Roberts said. “But it’s (got) to be right for both clubs. I think the history speaks to if something potentially could happen or should happen, we’ll make it happen.”
Friedman has acquired star-level talent to fill roster needs during each of the past two seasons, helping the Dodgers to back-to-back World Series. He traded for Yu Darvish as a second ace behind Clayton Kershaw in 2017 and got Manny Machado to fill the void at shortstop in 2018 when Corey Seager missed most of the season due to injury.
Waiting to see whether Friedman makes a move before the deadline, though, is not Roberts’ priority.
“If we line up on something that moves the needle, great. If we don’t, then we’re prepared to go forward with this club. … I think the most important thing for our guys until the 31st is to focus on winning baseball games,” Roberts added.
The Dodgers’ 67 wins are currently most in Major League Baseball, one game in front of the New York Yankees. They boast a starting rotation that sent three of its members to the 2019 MLB All-Star Game and an offense led by an MVP candidate in Cody Bellinger.
Yet the team’s bullpen appears as inconsistent as ever. Kenley Jansen has taken a step back and currently owns a 3.20 ERA on the season. Joe Kelly has pitched well since a horrific start to the year, but the Dodgers’ prized free-agent signing still has a 5.29 ERA that is well above his career norms.
Pedro Baez and Julio Urias have also established themselves as reliable bullpen options, but Baez is still on track for one of the worst ERA finishes of his career. Meanwhile, although Urias has been effective, the Dodgers have utilized him in a multi-inning role and are in need of a lefty specialist.