With the July 31 trade deadline quickly approaching, it has become clear that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ main focus will be adding to their bullpen.
One of the many options that could be available is Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez. It was reported on Wednesday the Dodgers are among the teams with reported interest in the left-hander.
Acquiring a reliever of Vazquez’s caliber figures to come at a steep price. He not only is one of the best relievers in the sport, but also signed a four-year, $22 million contract extension before the 2018 season.
The also includes two team options that could keep Vazquez under club control through the 2023 campaign.
With that, the Pirates may target heralded catching prospect Keibert Ruiz in a trade for Vazquez, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com:
Would expect #Pirates to ask #Dodgers for catcher Keibert Ruiz in any talks for Felipe Vázquez. Ruiz, 20, has a .649 OPS at Double-A this season; he could address Pittsburgh's long-term catching need with Francisco Cervelli becoming a free agent after this year. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 26, 2019
As alluded to, Ruiz is not having his best offensive season, but he is still very highly regarded in the Dodgers organization. In 58 games for Double-A Tulsa this season, the 20-year-old is hitting .242/.322/.327 with four home runs and 23 RBI.
Ruiz was recently named a Texas League All-Star and many publications view him as the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers organization, so despite the down year, his future remains extremely bright.
Catching is the one position in the organization that the Dodgers have a lot of depth in, especially with the recent emergence of Will Smith at the Major League level. If the Dodgers view Smith as their catcher of the future then that could make Ruiz expendable, especially if it is to acquire a reliever of Vazquez’s caliber.
In 31 games this season, he has pitched to a 1.91 ERA, 2.36 FIP, 1.09 WHIP, 51 strikeouts and nine walks in 33 innings pitched. Vazquez additionally has converted 19 of his 20 save opportunities.
The Pirates, who are currently in fourth place in the National League Central, have not decided if they are going to be sellers at the deadline yet. If they elect to hang onto Vazquez, other options for the Dodgers could include Cleveland Indians lefty Brad Hand, San Francisco Giants lefty Will Smith and Detroit Tigers righty Shane Greene.