RHP Justin Verlander
For multiple reasons, this trade could have seriously benefitted the Dodgers. Starting with an off-field reason, yes, Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers of all-time and surely has been able to help out with mentoring the rookies on the Dodgers' staff. But, if you look dig deeper, Verlander's pitch mix, velocity, and, on an even simpler level, his handedness, matches up well with the styles of Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan. While Verlander has thrown his changeup sparingly in 2023 (like Kershaw), his fastball usage (49% of his pitches) and slider usage (27%) combination is similar to Miller's (47% fastball and 23% slider). Miller has an even usage rate with his curveball and changeup (15%) to round out his mix, whereas Verlander significantly favors his curveball (19%) to his changeup (4%).
However, overall, Miller's profile is very similar to a younger Verlander, who used to favor his fastball even more. Also, in 2008 and 2009, his slider usage was under 3%. He has evolved as a pitcher over the course of his career to take his slider from his least-used pitch to his best off-speed pitch. Could he have helped Miller find his ideal pitch mix early in his career? Absolutely. When he was younger, he had much better velocity as well, and Miller could benefit under his tutelage. Sheehan is no different, and his velocity currently is very similar to Verlander's.
And then there's the on-field impact. Verlander has vast postseason experience, as Dodger fans are familiar with from facing him in the 2017 World Series. He had a rough start against the Mariners last postseason, giving up six earned runs in four innings, but then bounced back with six innings against the Yankees with a solo homer being the only blemish on that stat line. He gave up six earned runs in 10 innings in the 2022 World Series as well, but when choosing between Verlander and rookies starting postseason games, anybody would take Verlander, especially after Steve Cohen paid down most of his contract in the deal with the Astros.
The Dodgers had to have known they had to give to get for one of the best pitchers in the league, and it's odd they didn't push harder when they knew they'd only be on the hook for $39 million total through 2025 if Verlander's vesting option kicked in.