The trade deadline is a little more than a month away, so naturally many are starting to ponder up logical trade targets for the Dodgers. The Dodgers need some reinforcements, but most of them are sitting on the disabled list.
The Dodgers rotation at the moment is awfully thin but Rich Hill is due back next week if his rehab start goes according to plan, and Clayton Kershaw is starting to throw bullpen sessions. Kershaw is most likely going to need at least one rehab start, and he should be able to return by the beginning of July.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is also on the mend and due back next month while Walker Buehler is nursing a microfracture in his ribs and he should be back within the next two weeks. That doesn’t even account for Julio Urias who is going to make a return before August although his role on this year’s Dodger club is still to be determined.
The luxury tax threshold is going to be the Dodgers’ biggest foe when it comes to upgrading their rotation or bullpen, and the starting pitching market is thin outside of Cole Hamels. The issue with Hamels is that he makes twenty million this season so the Rangers would have to eat a ton of money. If the Rangers want to shed Hamels’ contract they can buyout his last season, so they are not going to trade him just to dump salary, they’re going to want legit prospects.
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The Dodger bullpen could use at least one more reliable arm for the late innings, and Tom Koehler is also making progress in his return from injury. As of a couple of weeks ago, Koehler was starting to throw real bullpen sessions and given that he is a reliever his rehab outings can be made several times a week which speeds up his return process. Koehler was supposed to be this season’s Brandon Morrow, and the Dodgers should have at least a few weeks to assess him before turning to the trade market.
The bullpen could also get a boost from a starter or two once the rotation is fully healthy. When healthy the Dodgers rotation is going to be Kershaw, Stripling, Buehler, Maeda, Wood, Ryu, Hill, and Urias. There are only five spots if everyone is healthy which means at least two to three starters will need to transition to the bullpen. Kenta Maeda had success out of the bullpen last October, and Rich Hill used to be a reliever, so they are the two most obvious candidates to make the switch to the bullpen.
Offensively the Dodgers are pretty much healthy, Justin Turner is now back and appears to be swinging the bat much better in recent games. The Dodgers also have a ton of outfield depth in the minors to account for any injuries, and due to the versatility of Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, and Kike Hernandez, the Dodgers infield is well covered if an injury occurs. The catcher position is also filled with plenty of depth as Kyle Farmer waits in the minor leagues.
The Dodgers could use some rotation and bullpen help, and much of those reinforcements will be coming off of the disabled list soon. While the Dodgers should survey the trade market, they need to see what they have in their current club when it is healthy before seeking outside reinforcements. If the current plethora of shelved Dodgers are unable to get healthy or perform poorly upon their return, then the Dodgers could seek an upgrade through the trade market.