The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ bullpen has held up preeeeeettttyyy well without ace sinkerballer Blake Treinen through the season’s first months. That doesn’t mean that, when the innings begin to pile up in midsummer, the team won’t pivot and attempt to add reinforcements at the deadline.
Not at a tremendous cost, mind you. The Dodgers aren’t foolish. They won’t get baited. But if you think the same team that dealt AJ Pollock for Craig Kimbrel a month ago won’t dip into the bullpen market in order to help out (checks notes) Alex Vesia and Phil Bickford, you’re kidding yourself.
So, who’s going to be selling come July? No, yeah, half the league, we know. But who specifically? Perhaps the 16-12 Giants will finally come to their senses, realize they’ve dropped to the middle of the pack, and begin reassessing things?
Kidding, kidding. Unless…?
Would you like to be briefly annoyed (but only briefly)? Former Dodgers yo-yo man Dennis Santana has been silently killing it in Texas since losing a few days to COVID, channeling his erratic nature into being effectively wild at the big-league level. Seeing as he’s controlled through 2025, though, that isn’t a realistic call Andrew Friedman can make.
The Dodgers won’t be coaxed into dealing for a reliever with more than 1.5 years of security, at which point the cost gets extremely prohibitive. Even that 2023 control is a bit of a stretch, but we’re willing to go there for someone with a low profile who can soak up the middle innings.
Side note: remember when bad teams used to sign veteran relievers so they could flip them at the deadline? Did all 30 owners handshake and agree to stop doing that mid-lockout? Or do “veteran relievers” just … not exist anymore, really?
Our first candidate is a longer-term play, but the other two are rentals — and all three would love a life raft from their currently-sinking organizations.
3 relievers Dodgers can trade for to replace Blake Treinen
3. Luis Cessa, Cincinnati Reds
The Dodgers have a fairly seamless back-end replacement for Treinen in the theoretical sense now that Tommy Kahnle and his damaging changeup have been activated. Of course, you’d like to have both, but … that’s a nice swap to be able to make.
But what about in Victor González’s place? Do the Dodgers need to supplement their ‘pen with an arm who can take on multiple innings, but is also able to step up and handle something late-and-close when needed? Enter Luis Cessa, the most impressive member of the flailing Cincinnati Reds, who’s under team control through 2023.
Through 10 appearances, the steady Cessa has covered 12 innings (one start?) with a 1.08 WHIP and 3.00 ERA. He’s top-tier in Statcast metrics, too, rebounding from his early days with the New York Yankees to become someone you can trust to generate soft contact (80th percentile average exit velocity) and miss bats (83rd percentile chase rate).
So why would the Reds let him go? After strip mining this winter, there isn’t much further they can fall. However, is there really a prospects-for-vets deal this ownership group/GM can refuse at this point? Is Cincinnati’s braintrust going to convince themselves that they’re on track to contend in 2023 after starting 2022 on a 30-win pace?
Cessa could be had for a steal this summer, and might be leaned on down the stretch if Treinen/González’s early-season absences leave the Dodgers’ bullpen undermanned and burnt out.