As the Los Angeles Dodgers have opened up the largest divisional lead across MLB this season and boast the best overall record, one glaring weakness has been their bullpen.
The signing of Joe Kelly to a three-year, $25 million contract over the winter has yet to pan out, and other relief pitchers have struggled with consistency. The unit has had its bright moments and stretches, but as a whole could stand to be upgraded.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently acknowledged as much and said he would aggressively pursue potential deals prior to the July 31 trade deadline. Though, not at the risk of being reckless.
One possible target could be San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Will Smith, as the longtime rivals are both open to exploring a trade, according to Jon Morosi:
#Dodgers, #SFGiants aren’t ruling out the prospect of making a Will Smith trade, source says. The rivals haven’t paired up on a deal since @Sweendog9 to L.A. for Travis Denker in 2007. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 25, 2019
Smith figures to be one of multiple players the Giants shop as they likely enter into a complete rebuilding phase. Beginning Tuesday, they sit in last place in the National League West with a 33-44 record that is also at the bottom of the NL standings and seventh-worst in baseball.
There additionally has been speculation Madison Bumgarner will be placed on the trading block and that he too could be someone the Dodgers pursue. While that may come to fruition, the club doesn’t appear to have quite as an acute need for a starter, much less a left-hander.
The opposite can be said for the Dodgers bullpen, however. Lefty specialist Tony Cingrani did not throw a single pitch for the team before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
Meanwhile, Scott Alexander is currently on the 10-day injured list because of a forearm issue, Caleb Ferguson has not been consistent, and Julio Urias is in the bullpen primarily as a means of better managing his innings limit.
Smith is 1-0 with 20 saves, a 2.01 ERA, 2.10 FIP and 0.77 WHIP in 32 games. The 29-year-old avoided arbitration with the Giants this year and is due to become a free agent in the winter.
The Dodgers and Giants have only completed three trades since moving West in 1958. There is also the component of former Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi now leading the Giants as president of baseball operations.
He of course has a keen insight to the Dodgers’ roster and depth in the farm system, and believes trading with a rival could benefit the Giants.