The Dodgers are going to seek a reliever to transform their bullpen into a strength. If they want to land an elite reliever the asking price could be Keibert Ruiz. Should LA deal Ruiz?
With July coming next week, the Dodgers are beginning to scout potential trade pickups around the league. The latest rumor came yesterday as the Dodgers were once again linked to Pirates ace closer Felipe Vazquez. It’s not the first time the Dodgers have been linked to Vazquez and it won’t be the last.
Along with the rumor, came an interesting tidbit from Jon Morosi, as he tweeted that the Pirates will likely ask for Keibert Ruiz to be included in a potential deal. An interesting suggestion considering the Padres traded Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to the Indians and got back a top 20 prospect and catcher in Francisco Mejia a year ago.
Like Mejia, Keibert Ruiz entered the season as the 20th ranked prospect in baseball and has only seen his stock grow. Ruiz is LA’s number one prospect and ranked ahead of Will Smith. The two catchers have contrasting styles as Ruiz does not have much power but has only struck out 15 times in over two hundred at-bats this season. Smith is strikeout prone but also has serious power potential.
The reliever trade market may not be as robust as expected especially if the Indians decide not to sell and keep Brad Hand. That leaves the Giants’ Will Smith and Felipe Vazquez as the top two available relievers. Vazquez is under contract through 2023 with options, so the Dodgers would potentially get four-plus seasons of his services.
While dealing Keibert Ruiz is not in play for a rental like Smith, he could be in play for an elite reliever with control like Brad Hand or the aforementioned Felipe Vazquez. The question for the Dodgers becomes should they include Ruiz if it gets a deal done for an elite reliever such as Felipe Vazquez?
In the past, the Dodgers have avoided dealing top-ranked prospects but at the catcher position, the Dodgers have depth. Will Smith is big league ready, Connor Wong should be headed to Double-A soon, and then Diego Cartaya who is supposed to be the best of the bunch is starting his career in the rookie league.
That doesn’t mean dealing Ruiz away wouldn’t come back to backfire on the Dodgers. Yordan Alvarez has been the one prospect that in hindsight the Dodgers should have kept. Dealing away Ruiz opens another opportunity for a deal to backfire. Will Smith has looked legit in his brief time but he has less than thirty at-bats in the Majors.
By the trade deadline the Dodgers won’t know how legit of a big league player Will Smith is. The one favorable point with Ruiz is that at worst, he should end up a solid starter and at best he could be the Dodgers’ version of Yadier Molina, a player that Keibert has said he looks up to. Like Molina, Ruiz is said to have strong leadership skills and know how to handle a pitching staff.
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Andrew Friedman has the next month to weigh if he will deal Ruiz away if it lands the Dodgers something they desperately need, an electric 1-2 punch at the end of games. If it were up to me, I would deal Keibert away for Hand or Vazquez. Outside of Ruiz, the Dodgers wouldn’t need to add much else if anything else to seal the deal.
Will Smith should at worst be a solid defensive catcher with power, even if he is not an All-Star. Then the Dodgers still have Diego Cartaya a few years away who has the most potential of any Dodger catching prospect. It would be a tough price to pay but for a team that has lost two straight World Series and has an obvious Achilles heel, it must be done.
The Dodgers have been linked to Felipe Vazquez before so this could just be a generic rumor given the lack of trade rumors so far this summer. If the interest is real, then the question becomes if Keibert Ruiz is included to seal the deal and give the Dodgers their best chance yet at capturing that elusive World Series title.