A major trade went down between the Yankees and Cubs, and this move could have a lasting impact on the Dodgers.
Aroldis Chapman has had quite the eventful year. A quick recap: the Reds and Dodgers had a deal in place that would bring Chapman to LA, solidifying a weakness (that has already been solidified anyways) and giving the Dodgers two dominant arms at the end of the bullpen. Then, a story broke that Chapman was involved in a domestic violence incident. The Dodgers (rightfully) backed away, Chapman was traded to the Yankees for a very low price, and he was suspended 30 games.
The Yankees have been bad and are shifting into sell mode, so they have reportedly traded Chapman (who has dominated since returning from suspension) to the Cubs for a HAUL. Gleyber Torres (19 years old, MLB.com’s #24 prospect), Billy McKinney (21 years old, MLB.com’s #75 prospect) and two others. All for Chapman, who is a free agent at the end of the season (and is a monster, both in how he throws baseballs and being a terrible person off the field).
On the field, this trade impacts the Dodgers in a very obvious way. The Dodgers are a very good team. The Cubs have more talent, more health and now boast one of the best relievers in the game. The Cubs were probably World Series favorites before this move, and while this trade hurts them in the long run, it gives them a much better shot this season. The Dodgers will have to go through the Cubs in the postseason, and that road just became tougher.
This deal has an even larger impact on the Dodgers for the next week, even though the Dodgers and Cubs will be nearly 2,000 miles apart. The Dodgers are in a very precarious position as they approach the deadline. Clayton Kershaw‘s status is unknown. While the Dodgers have been playing great without him (15-8 since his last start), it’s tough to know if they can continue on this path with. The Dodgers have the prospects and money to make any move imaginable, but just because they CAN doesn’t necessarily mean they should.
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If the Dodgers want a better shot at winning the World Series this year, they undoubtably have to make a move somewhere. The offense has found its rhythm and Howie Kendrick/Justin Turner/Adrian Gonzalez are finally looking like forces on offense, so while an upgrade in left or behind the plate could help, the offense would probably be fine if they stand pat. The starters, without Kershaw, are a hodgepodge of guys that can’t go deep into games (whether that be due to coming back from injury or ineffectiveness), and because of that, the bullpen has been taxed. The Dodgers probably need to make a move to truly contend this year, but after seeing the price the Cubs paid, that might not be in the Dodgers’ best interest.
Look at that price for Chapman, a pitcher that threw 25 innings from July 25, 2015 until October 3rd, 2015. He will likely throw more than that for the Cubs in a pennant race and in the playoffs, but the Cubs just gave that haul up for maybe 50 innings?
Imagine what the price would be for a young starter with team control (Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, Chris Sale, Julio Teheran). Those four vary in terms of talent and performance this year (and willingness to wear throwback uniforms). Sale is the best pitcher of the bunch, the second oldest and the closest to free agency (2018). The other three can’t become free agents until 2020.
The Dodgers have been attached to each of those four starters at some point over the last year and a half, and most everyone agrees that Corey Seager and Julio Urias are off the table. Is it realistic to think that Jose De Leon could headline a deal for one of those pitchers? Before the Chapman trade, most everyone assumed so. Now? That’s a little more dicy. De Leon is a phenomenal prospect and is relatively close to being major league ready, but can he headline a deal for a team-controlled starter when a rental just brought back two top-five prospects in a very good farm system?
Even if De Leon could headline that type of deal, the Dodgers would likely have to throw in one of their prized position prospects. Austin Barnes is a very good catching prospect with versatility, but is probably the most replaceable of the big names here. Alex Verdugo has seemingly limitless potential and in the right market could probably headline a blockbuster deal himself, or could be the final piece of a great young outfield with Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. Cody Bellinger‘s timeline is perfect for the Dodgers, who have already begun to see a decline at the plate from Gonzalez. The Dodgers have plenty of pitching prospects, but their position prospect situation is a lot more bleak. If they had to give up one or two of these guys, it would hurt more than giving up higher-rated pitching prospects.
You have to give up talent to get talent, but this trade deadline looks like it’s going to be full of overpays. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Dodgers should stand pat and not make any moves, but this is the worst possible climate to try to make a blockbuster. If Kershaw’s out for a long time (or, gulp, the season), the Dodgers absolutely need an ace. That being said, without Kershaw, an ace likely doesn’t put them over the top anyways.
It’s a very interesting position for the Dodgers to be in. They obviously shouldn’t pack it up and stick with the hand they currently have, but looking at what moves will likely cost, a minor upgrade that doesn’t decimate the farm is probably a better plan than bringing in a stud for a huge overpay when the price could be lower in the offseason/next season. I know that “wait until next season” is the last thing people want to hear, but in terms of making a major trade, that might be the best decision.
The Cubs got a lot better today and have a much better chance of going deep in the playoffs with Chapman. The Dodgers could put themselves in a similar situation by adding a stud starter or an Andrew Miller type, but considering the price the Cubs paid for their future, it might be best to look for cheaper, more marginal upgrades that don’t cripple the farm. This front office hasn’t showed a desire to part with their upper-tier farm system, and this isn’t the market to change that strategy.