The Los Angeles Dodgers are a near lock to make the postseason and win the National League West, but with the MLB trade deadline days away on Aug. 2, they have the opportunity to focus on adding impact for their playoff run rather than focusing on how to get there.
As it stands right now, the team doesn’t have a real hole that needs to be addressed as they have arguably the deepest roster in baseball. But that might change depending on how confident they are in the health of their pitching staff.
Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Danny Duffy, Victor González and Tommy Kahnle are all expected to return at some point this season, but even just getting three or four of them back would go a long way toward shoring up their pitching staff.
They also had Andrew Heaney return from the 15-day injured list on Wednesday and he picked up where he previously left off with another strong outing.
However, if the Dodgers are internally less optimistic about the health of those players, adding a starter and a reliever or two does become far more important. Some insight into the organization’s viewpoint was gained Saturday with a trade that sent Zach McKinstry to the Chicago Cubs for Chris Martin.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers lineup been among the best in baseball and they have received massive contributions from players who were not expected to hold big roles, such as Trayce Thompson, Jake Lamb and Hanser Alberto. L.A. should also get Chris Taylor and Edwin Ríos back from the IL before the season ends, which further eliminates the need to add a bat.
So without any true needs to fill that could cause their downfall in October, this puts the Dodgers in a spot to target real impact players. Overall, it’s more likely to be a somewhat quiet trade deadline for the Dodgers unless they are fortunate enough to make a deal for an impact player.
Dodgers trade deadline targets
The Dodgers currently have five healthy starting pitchers with two more scheduled to return, but they need to manage the workload of Tony Gonsolin so that will be something for them to consider. But it’s hard to call starting pitching a need when they could go into October, where only four starters are needed, with a rotation that includes a mix of Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Tyler Anderson, Gonsolin and Heaney, along with potentially adding Buehler and May into that mix.
If they decide to add a starter, they’re likely going to be looking at the top of the market for guys who can slot into the top three spots of their rotation. This is a limited list that many teams will be interested in, but there are a few very good options that fit the bill.
Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds
Luis Castillo was the top pitcher on the market and he still has another year of control after the season, so the price figured to be high. That came to be when the Seattle Mariners traded four prospects to the Cincinnati Reds for Castillo.
Tyler Mahle would slot into the middle of the Dodgers’ rotation, so he may be too repetitive to what they currently have. He’s also had some struggles this season, but Mahle’s FIP suggests he is much more effective than his ERA shows, and he has a strong track record of being a good third starter.
Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics
Frankie Montas is coming off an injury so he has some risk and needs to prove he is healthy. But he has the talent to pitch at the front of a rotation when he’s right. Like Castillo, Montas is being highly sought after.
And also like Castillo, he is not a free agent until 2024, so any team acquiring Montas would be getting more than a rental.
Update: Montas was traded to the New York Yankees.
Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers
Skubal is likely the most valuable player on this list, and for good reason. The left-hander is one of the top young pitchers in baseball and it was reported that the Detroit Tigers are willing to move him.
Skubal’s surface numbers don’t look great, mostly thanks to the Tigers’ defense, but he has the ability to step into the front of the Dodgers’ rotation and thrive.
The 25-year-old is not a free agent until 2027, so the Dodgers would need to part with multiple quality assets, such as Diego Cartaya, some of their other top prospects and possibly even Gavin Lux to get a trade done.
Pablo López, Miami Marlins
Pablo López is another pitcher who would look great at the top of the Dodgers rotation, but he’s likely the second-most expensive player on this list as he’s not a free agent until 2025.
The Marlins have been great at developing pitching and have a deep system of arms, but they lack quality bats, so the Dodgers do match up well here. Players such as Lux, Cartaya, Andy Pages, Michael Busch and Miguel Vargas would likely be very intriguing to the Marlins.
Carlos Rodón, San Francisco Giants
The Dodgers had reported interest in Rodón this past offseason. The southpaw reached the innings mark he needed to trigger an opt-out clause after the 2022 season, which is far more probable to happen than not.
He’d likely be the cheapest impact starter available, but the Giants would need to decide to sell, which isn’t a guarantee. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi does know the Dodgers’ system well and he has previously said there is a benefit to trading within the division.
Innings eaters and back-of-the-rotation starters
Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen (Los Angeles Angels), Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill, Michael Wacha and Nick Pivetta (Boston Red Sox), Martín Pérez (Texas Rangers), Jakob Junis, Alex Wood and Alex Cobb (Giants), Johnny Cueto (Chicago White Sox), Chad Kuhl (Colorado Rockies), Merril Kelly and Zach Davies (Arizona Diamondbacks), Brady Singer and Zack Greinke (Kansas City Royals), Jose Quintana (Pittsburgh Pirates), Mike Minor (Reds), Drew Smyly (Chicago Cubs) and Michael Pineda (Tigers).
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