Any question marks the Los Angeles Dodgers may have believed existed in their starting rotation multiplied exponentially amid Clayton Kershaw suffering a lower back strain. A timetable has not been released, but a reasonable expectation is he’ll miss several weeks.
Prior to Kershaw coming out of his start on Sunday due to the injury, the Dodgers were reported as having interest in a potential trade for Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. Los Angeles is also among the teams said to have recently scouted Detroit Tigers righty Justin Verlander.
A comfortable lead in the National League West division, a belief and expectation Kershaw will return this season, and team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman’s nature don’t lend to the Dodgers acting out of emotion ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
Nonetheless, the club reportedly is actively pursuing a trade for a top starting pitcher, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com:
According to a source, the Yankees, Nationals and Dodgers are all increasing their efforts to land a top-notch starter, but at the moment, only two are available for certain — Sonny Gray and Justin Verlander — while a third (Yu Darvish) might be the most desirable for this year’s stretch run if he’s made available.
Reports over the last few days have the Rangers taking different stances on possibly trading Darvish. They now appear willing to do so, so long as the return for the free-agent-to-be is sufficient.
Aside from Darvish being a rental, what may further complicate matters for the Rangers is his limited no-trade clause. The same in some sense applies to the Tigers and Verlander, who holds a full no-trade clause.
Verlander presumably would waive it join a team in contention, such as the Dodgers, but the remaining salary on his contract is considered a hindrance. He’s owed $28 million in each 2018 and 2019 and has a $20 million vesting option for 2020.
What’s more, the Dodgers reportedly no longer view Verlander as a potential trade option.
Sonny Gray is arguably the best starter who’s both under team control and believed to be available. The Dodgers have had reported interest in Gray dating back to last season.