1. Keibert Ruiz
No matter how you arrive at the conclusion, it’s hard to chart a path for Keibert Ruiz to contribute meaningfully to the Dodgers in the coming year or two, meaning the team will either have to perch on his value or deal him while his potential is still sky high.
Will it be at the trade deadline? Doubtful. But with Smith poised to make his first of many All-Star teams and Cartaya pushing to be taken extremely seriously, doesn’t Ruiz have more value to the Dodgers in trade than he does slugging at Double- and Triple-A and vexing the team’s higher-ups?
The only trade we could see potentially including Ruiz at the deadline is a … (drumroll, please) … Aroldis Chapman swap with the Yankees, which would allow the Bombers to install the catcher firmly behind the vulnerable Gary Sánchez in the pecking order, as well as examine 2020 first-rounder Austin Wells at different positions.
Hopefully, we didn’t think of this before the Yanks did. Come on, guys. You should be on this.
Sometimes, the prospect road map is extremely simple to discern. Player A ages out, reaches the limits of his rookie deal, and Prospect A is directly behind him, ready to contribute. Occasionally, one team collects more talent than they know what to do with. The Dodgers have an obscene amount of catching at every level of the minors and majors, and basically no other big-league team does. At a certain point, you need to parlay your riches into helping fortify another area of weakness.
We’re still surprised Ruiz didn’t head to Boston instead of Jeter Downs in the Mookie Betts trade, honestly. If this isn’t the winter where he departs, when will it be? Or will Will Smith be available instead? Someone’s got to go.