The Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the deepest rosters in MLB, but injuries have already taken a toll on their starting rotation, with both Andrew Heaney and Clayton Kershaw going down within the first month of action. Heaney’s been out for nearly a month and just threw his first bullpen on Tuesday, while Kershaw experienced a setback and won’t throw just yet.
If the Dodgers learned anything from 2021, it’s that you can’t go into the playoffs with a thin or tired rotation. Both of those things happened and they were swiftly ousted by the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
Though Trevor Bauer’s appeal of MLB’s 324-game suspension might throw a wrench in the Dodgers’ plans, it looks like they might not have a choice but to acquire more starting pitching.
Could Ryan Pepiot be a solution? Absolutely. But there’s no telling what he might look like in September and October. The Dodgers need another surefire, proven arm alongside Kershaw (if he’s available), Walker Buehler and Julio Urías come playoff time.
With all due respect, Heaney, Tony Gonsolin (though he’s performing well!) and Tyler Anderson can’t be part of a contingency plan for a top-four in a playoff rotation. They need to be depth options at best if we’re talking about a definitive World Series run.
There’s another problem, though. The Dodgers can’t get caught up in the frenzy right up against the trade deadline. They need to strike early before other bidders get involved, and convince whatever team they’re dealing with that they have the best offer. Otherwise, it’s going to be a contentious bidding war, and LA doesn’t want to be in a position where they’re stuck overpaying with prospect capital.
That’s why it’s important to make calls as early as possible, since Andrew Friedman can already see the writing on the wall with what might happen to his current group of starters.
The Dodgers should target these three starters long before the trade deadline
3. Martin Perez, Texas Rangers
Can’t hurt to acquire another lefty due to the uncertainty surrounding Heaney and Kershaw. And with the Texas Rangers clearly still very far away from contention, they have a very good trade chip in left-hander Martin Perez, who owns a 2.01 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 33 strikeouts in his first seven starts (40.1 innings).
Those numbers align with his Statcast metrics, too: he’s in the upper percentiles for xwOBA (87th), barrel percentage (89th), expected slugging (89th), xERA (87th) and xBA (76th).
On just a one-year, $4 million contract, Perez won’t come cheap, but the Rangers have done fair business in recent years. The deal they made with the Yankees for Joey Gallo was nuanced and clearly catered to New York’s preferences, and it very well might work out for both sides.
Another reason you call early here? Because the Dodgers can maybe convince Texas that this will be the highest they’ll be able to sell Perez, who has a career 4.61 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Can he maintain his current numbers through the All-Star break? That’s a big risk for Texas to take. Perhaps the Dodgers can convince them to meet in the middle.