The Los Angeles Dodgers are starting to catch fire as the calendar heads to the MLB trade deadline. Many fans expect the team to make a move to capitalize on the strong play as of late to give the team a better chance of contending for a World Series in 2023.
One name that has been heavily tied to the Dodgers as of late is Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito. MLB.com's Jon Morosi first broke the news of the Dodgers being interested in the LA native.
Trying to gauge Giolito's trade value can be difficult because he's on an expiring deal, and while he's a big name, he hasn't been an All-Star pitcher for four years. Contending teams are desperate, though, and the Dodgers will have to outbid other teams in the Giolito market.
Building the perfect Lucas Giolito trade package for the Dodgers
The White Sox have a lot of potential trade chips to dangle to contending teams at the deadline, including reliever Keynan Middleton. Some fans may want to see the Dodgers spend more to get Tim Anderson in the trade, but he's been outright horrible this season with a .521 OPS. The Dodgers should have learned from the Joey Gallo situation.
If the White Sox are willing to throw Anderson in this trade for Michael Busch and Hyun-Il Choi then great, phone it in! But Chicago would be silly to sell so low on Anderson, so he likely won't be traded until the offseason or next year's deadline when his value is higher.
First let's start with what the Dodgers are getting in return. The team would be getting a durable starter to add to the playoff rotation this year. If healthy, the Dodgers could start with a playoff rotation of Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Giolito and Tony Gonsolin. That's a really solid start and isn't factoring in the youngsters in Emmet Sheehan and Bobby Miller or a potentially returning Walker Buehler.
Los Angeles would also get a reliever on an expiring deal who has thrived this season in Middleton. Kendall Graveman is the bigger name, but Middleton has arguably been better this season, is cheaper, and will be a free agent come November, so the Dodgers don't have to worry about paying him $8 million next season (like Graveman's deal would).
Middleton would help bolster the bullpen with his nasty changeup, which he's throwing at a career-high rate. It has been working well, as the right-hander ranks in the 97th percentile in whiff rate, 93rd percentile in chase rate, and 91st percentile in strikeout rate, per Baseball Savant.
The return for Chicago is a good one. Some fans may be against the idea of trading Busch. After all, Busch is a top-100 prospect and has been raking at the Triple-A level for the Dodgers. This may seem like too much for two rentals.
In a vacuum, it might be. But the trade market is not very deep this year and the Dodgers are going to have to outbid other teams. If Shohei Ohtani is available and Busch has to be included in a deal for the two-way star, then so be it. That's the move that would have to be made. But in actuality, there may not be another trade for Busch at the deadline.
So why trade him? Well, time is kind of running out. Busch is going to be 26 this November. Despite sending Miguel Vargas down, the Dodgers still aren't giving him an extended run in the bigs. They are treating him like Keibert Ruiz, and while MLB Pipeline and Baseball America may love him, that usually indicates that there's something else going on. If the Dodgers believed in Busch, he would be on the big-league team.
But with Max Muncy and Freddie Freeman blocking him (and Gavin Lux also contributing to that log-jam once he's healthy), the Dodgers have no space for him. Package him with an outside-the-top-30 pitching prospect in Hyun-Il Choi and the White Sox should be thrilled.