Examining Which Prospects Dodgers May Need To Trade For Chris Archer
Examining Which Prospects Dodgers May Need To Trade For Chris Archer
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers figure to be in the market for some starting pitching. With Clayton Kershaw out indefinitely with a back injury, Alex Wood recovering from elbow surgery, and Hyun-Jin Ryu suffering from elbow tendinitis, the club’s internal pitching options have been spread dangerously thin.

While there are options residing in Triple-A Oklahoma City such as, Jose De Leon and Brock Stewart, it would be unfair to expect a rookie to fill the shoes of someone of Kershaw’s caliber. That leads us to the trade market.

It seems as though no aces will be dealt this season, with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal recently reporting the Chicago White Sox turned down a “king’s ransom” for Chris Sale.

So, it may make more sense to look at pitcher’s whose value isn’t at its highest, perhaps on a team that isn’t competitive, maybe even a player that is familiar to the Dodgers’ front office.

On a completely unrelated note, the Dodgers have been connected to Tampa Bay Rays righty Chris Archer. He broke out last year, posting a 3.23 ERA, 2.90 FIP and 29 percent strikeout rate.

However, this season, Archer been inconsistent and struggled with his command, leading to a 9.5 percent walk rate and nearly 1.5 home runs allowed per nine innings. Nonetheless, Archer is a mere 27 years old (he’ll turn 28 in September) and is signed to one of the team-friendliest deals in the league, thanks to his former general manager, Andrew Friedman.

Archer’s walk and home run rates have dropped over the past two months, though he’s allowed at least four runs in four of his last six outings. So what price should the Dodgers pay to bet that he bounces back?

Let’s review some of the prospects the Rays could covet in a potential trade.

Jose De Leon, RHP

Arguably the Dodgers’ top untouchable prospect, assuming Julio Urias won’t be moved, De Leon has missed time this year with both an ankle injury and shoulder issue. However, he’s come back to show the same swing-and-miss stuff that vaulted him onto top prospect lists last year.

De Leon’s prolific strikeout numbers and proximity to the Major Leagues will definitely land him atop most teams preferred lists when engaged in trade talks with the Dodgers. If not for injuries, De Leon would have been with the big club already.

He’s still likely to make his Major League debut this year. The only question is: for the Dodgers, or another club?

Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF

Like De Leon, Bellinger burst onto the prospect scene last year after clubbing 30 home runs for High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Also like De Leon, he was hampered by an injury to start the season and didn’t debut until April 30.

Bellinger has shown massive raw power and incorporated it into games, but not as much this year. He seems to have sacrificed some power to cut down on strikeouts, as his K rate has dropped from 27.6 percent to 21.3 percent.

The tradeoff is that Bellinger’s slugging percentage has dropped over .100 points. However, given the fact that he’s produced a 125 wRC+ through 72 games and just recently turned 21, as well as displaying the athleticism to play an outfield corner, his prospect value is still high and he’s likely to be brought up in trade talks.

Alex Verdugo, OF

Verdugo struggled to hit early last year, with the Midwest League and cold Michigan weather not helping his cause. He also tinkered with his swing before settling in by late May and took off, batting nearly .350 into August before a promotion to Rancho Cucamonga, where he hit over .400 for the remainder of the year.

Verdugo holds his own in center field and has a very strong arm which profiles well in right. He was aggressively assigned to Double-A Tulsa to start this season before his 20th birthday and all he’s done is hit near .300, while showing above average power and that same strong arm, recording 10 outfield assists already.

Verdugo’s youth and potential to hit for both average and power all the while playing a solid center field (before eventually settling in in right) will make him yet another highly-coveted asset.

Willie Calhoun, 2B

Calhoun was selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft and ended his professional debut with the Quakes, playing alongside Bellinger and Verdugo and winning the 2015 California League championship.

Between three levels last season, Calhoun hit .316/.390/.519 with surprising pop from someone who’s listed at 5’8 and plays second base. This season he’s shown even more power, clubbing 20 home runs through his first 89 games with the Drillers.

While there are questions about Calhoun’s ultimate defensive home, there are far fewer questions about his bat, which will likely attract teams to bet on his hit and power tools.

Grant Holmes, RHP

The Dodgers’ first pick in 2014, Holmes has carved up hitters in the low Minors. His fastball touches the upper 90s and he shows a power breaking ball that overmatches inexperienced batters. He’s also shown feel for his changeup.

Holmes is further away from the Majors than some of the prospects named above, though his upside is considerable. He’s fought command issues this year and it will be something he needs to improve to continue his ascension up the ranks.

Armed with two plus-pitches, Holmes will garner plenty of interest in the time leading up to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline.

Austin Barnes, C

Perhaps the Dodgers’ most underrated prospect, Barnes is in a tough spot, He’s good enough to start in the Majors but simply hasn’t gotten a shot. In a small sample, he’s shown exceptional framing numbers to go along with plus on-base skills as well as unusual athleticism for a catcher.

That has allowed for him to spend some time at second base as well as third, and he even started one game in center field for Oklahoma City. While he’s not as young as the aforementioned players, at 26, Barnes ready to step into a Major League lineup right away.

Unfortunately, with Yasmani Grandal entrenched as the Dodgers’ everyday catcher, that figures to come with another team.

Putting a trade together

So, with half a dozen options, what would it take to land a player like Archer? The Rays may point to Drew Pomeranz and shoot for the moon, asking for Urias and more, but it’s doubtful the Dodgers would bite.

A fair offer would be De Leon, Barnes and Calhoun, with perhaps a lesser name like Josh Sborz or Chase De Jong thrown in. That would give the Rays a potential No. 2 starter as well as an immediate upgrade at catcher, along with a pair of upside prospects who could contribute within the next season or two.

What would you want the Dodgers to give up to land Chris Archer? Let Jared know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JaredJMassey). You can listen to Jared on the weekly Dugout Blues Podcast