And by “big trade deadline moves” we actually mean “colossal, blockbuster moves beyond comprehension” because now there’s a lot for Los Angeles Dodgers fans to wonder about.
On Sunday night, LA used its first selection (second round) in the 2022 MLB Draft (40th overall) to select Louisville catcher Dalton Rushing. The sole reason eyebrows were raised was because the Dodgers seemingly paved the way for young slugger Diego Cartaya to be next in line as the catcher of the future following Keibert Ruiz being sent to the Washington Nationals in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner trade last deadline.
Additionally, Cartaya has actually gotten better! He got promoted to High-A this year and has performed better at the advanced level at just 20 years of age.
Rushing, who turned 21 in February, absolutely mashed at Louisville (and in the Cape Cod League last year), but his 102 games as a Cardinal (.298 AVG, 1.072 OPS, 84 runs scored, 28 homers, 82 RBI) were his calling card. He also bats from the left side of the plate.
The Dodgers (thankfully) have a ton of pitching, infield and outfield depth in the top end of their farm system, so they didn’t necessarily need more of that. But with three catchers in their top-27 and one of them being Cartaya, the selection of Rushing does let the imagination wander.
Is Andrew Friedman trying to cash out on Cartaya while the hype is potentially at its peak at this year’s trade deadline and use the youngster’s value to supplement the 2022 roster in hopes of making another World Series run?
Did the Dodgers selecting C Dalton Rushing alter the MLB trade deadline?
Rushing, despite speculation about a position switch after being used at first base as well as the corner outfield spots at Louisville, is expected to remain at catcher, too.
Then, you look at Will Smith’s situation, and he’s under club control through 2025, which seemingly interrupts Cartaya’s eventual arrival (he could be ready by late 2023 in a best-case scenario). Smith is among the best in the game and isn’t going anywhere with three cost-effective years of arbitration ahead of him.
Throw in the two-year extension for backup catcher Austin Barnes (which takes him through 2024) … and you can’t help but wonder if Cartaya became trade bait overnight in a year the Dodgers desperately need pitching and general roster depth to make up for a disappointing showing in the 2021 postseason.
Oh yeah, and happen to know where Smith went to college? That’d be Louisville, too. So it appears there’s a possible connection here that might particularly entice the Dodgers and allow them to cash in on an asset they don’t necessarily need in Cartaya for the next three seasons.
In the short term? We’ll know for sure if this is their thought process in two weeks. In the long term? We’ll know for sure by the start of the 2023 season, most likely.