In the weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers were linked to some of the biggest names rumored to be available. However, the majority of those players ultimately stayed put with their current organization.
That holds true for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez, who many believed was a perfect fit for the Dodgers bullpen. He checked off all of the boxes, specifically being a left-handed reliever with plenty of late-inning experience.
What prevented a deal from coming to fruition was the Pirates’ exorbitant asking price. They reportedly sought one of Gavin Lux or Dustin May on top of Keibert Ruiz in any trade involving Vazquez.
The Dodgers understandably declined and wound up only marginally addressing their bullpen with the acquisition of left-handed specialist Adam Kolarek from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Despite not landing an impact reliever, the club has continued its dominance into August and boast a substantial lead in the National League West.
Even with all of their strengths, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle opined that the Dodgers would be all the more formidable had they acquired Vazquez, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:
“They’re pretty strong right now,” Hurdle said of the Dodgers, “but they would definitely be stronger” with Vazquez.
While Vazquez would have undoubtedly bolstered the Dodgers bullpen, the group figures to naturally improve come postseason time when starting pitchers transition to relief roles.
A combination of Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin could all factor into the equation once the calendar turns to October.
Moreover, L.A. is already reaping the benefits of holding onto their top prospects. May has garnered rave reviews in his first full month as a big leaguer, and now is beginning to audition in a role out of the bullpen.
As for Lux, he continues tearing the cover off the ball for Triple-A Oklahoma City and is a candidate to potentially be called up when rosters expand in September.
Unfortunately for Ruiz, his 2019 season is likely over after suffering a broken finger earlier in August. Despite the setback, his outlook is still bright and he could potentially make his MLB debut as early as next year.
Meanwhile, the Pirates, whose general manager Neal Huntington asserted the club will contend in the years to come, have spiraled and hardly pitched Vazquez since the deadline.