After a horrendous start to the season, the Dodgers are slowly, but surely getting back into the mix of things. However that rough start showed some weaknesses that this team has. Before the deadline, if the Dodgers choose to make a move what position should be top priority?
Last season the Dodgers looked as good as ever heading into the deadline, and the front office still made a move to acquire another top end starter in Yu Darvish. I think is safe to say that the need for an upgrade seems a lot more necessary this season than it ever did over the course of the 2017 season.
The front office still has plenty of time to think things through before the July 31st deadline arrives. With that said, the season moves fast and the deadline that seems far gets here in a flash. Andrew Friedman always has a plan, and I’d imagine they already know if they’re going to make a deal, and if so who the targets will be.
Of every position on the Dodgers, the most glaring issue has to be the bullpen. The question is, will the Dodgers solve that problem in house or go out and acquire a reliever. Nobody in the bullpen has been consistent other than Ross Stripling and he has been thrust into a starting role.
However, reinforcements should be there come post-season time. Tom Koehler is making steady progress on his rehab, and will hopefully be a boost to an underwhelming bullpen. Also two of the following four pitchers could see themselves in the bullpen come October; Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill.
Not to mention perhaps Julio Urias could be back in time as a bullpen addition. The in house solution is a real possibility if they decide the team has a more pressing need elsewhere. If they do decide to trade for a reliever they have some VERY good options to choose from.
Four elite relievers play baseball with some very bad teams. As is always the case, those teams will be looking to take in prospects for their MLB ready relievers. Alex Colome of the Rays has a 1.04 ERA and 0.46 WHIP in May. Zach Britton has yet to pitch this season but since 2014 he has been one of the most dominant relievers in the bigs. Down in San Diego they have Brad Hand who is one of the best relievers in baseball. Finally Kelvin Herrera of the Royals has been one of the few bright spots on a 15 win team.
Now that’s just one course of action. Another way they could go is acquiring another starting pitcher. As it stands they have two reliable starters for the playoffs. Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood. A few players could make their case but as of now those are the only two starters locked into starting games in the playoffs.
Behind them, there are a bunch of question marks. Can Rich Hill remain a starter with his pesky blister problems? Will Walker Buehler’s innings limit prevent him from starting games in the playoffs? Are Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling better suited in a relief role? Can Hyun-Jin Ryu stay healthy and if he does will he be the same pitcher he was before his groin injury?
With all these questions, the best solution might be trading for a starter. The options are not as great as the reliever situation is, but they are still solid choices. The most obvious and one that is constantly being thrown around in trade rumors is Chris Archer.
The Rays’ right-hander has been mentioned in so many trade rumors, that it’s hard to believe he is still on the team, especially after they traded probably the greatest player in franchise history with Evan Longoria being shipped to San Francisco. He is the most likely to be dealt this season and maybe it is the Dodgers who make that move.
Another pitcher is Michael Fulmer. He is off to a rough start but his previous seasons are proof that the 25-year-old can be a formidable piece in a rotation. Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles has been good this season and would be a nice addition. Finally a pair of Rangers with Bartolo (big sexy) Colon and Doug Fister are both veteran arms who have pitched in the post season and are the definition of inning eaters.
Other than the pitching staff there is not much more that can be upgraded. The corners are held down by Bellinger and Turner. Taylor has taken over shortstop. In the outfield the corners of Kemp and Puig have been great. Center field platoon of Pederson and Hernandez is solid and catching rotation with Grandal and Barnes is probably the best in baseball.
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That leaves second base. The only real big question mark of this offense. The Forsythe deal has been a bust for both teams. De Leon is recovering from major surgery and Forsythe has been hurt and when healthy has failed to perform. Utley is just not the same player he once was and his age is showing.
So could they make a move for a middle infielder? Two of the biggest names that could become available are middle infielders. Manny Machado has been linked to the Dodgers since Seager’s injury. Adding a player of his caliber would undoubtedly be a game changer. That would be an upgrade at shortstop and second base with Chris Taylor moving to second should Machado move to LA.
The second player is Brian Dozier. They were linked to him prior to acquiring Forsythe. The Twins got off to a shaky start. Winning the division looks like the only opportunity to make the playoffs with either the Yankees or Red Sox getting a wild card spot and one of the other spots likely going to the Angels or Mariners.
If a post season run seems unlikely, it would make sense to dump his expiring contract and acquire assets. The Dodgers would receive an immediate upgrade and add another right handed power bat. Another less “sexy” option is Jed Lowrie of the A’s. He has been playing lights out this season and if he continues his tear he would be a very good addition to the team.
The front office could go in so many different directions. They also could just stand pat and not make a single move. What direction would you prefer to see them go before the deadline?