While helping out the St. Louis Cardinals sounds pretty unappealing on the surface, the Los Angeles Dodgers should take the most painful route possible towards doing so.
Of all the technically disposable Cardinals outfielders, which one's departure would hurt the most? The voracious Brendan Donovan, still just 26 and fresh off a third-place finish in the Rookie of the Year ballotting. Still, if you want to keep Lars Nootbaar and Jordan Walker, that means you must eventually whittle off a few of Tommy Edman, Alec Burleson, Dylan Carlson, Tyler O'Neill and Donovan. The youngster, born in Wurzberg, Germany, might be a naturally versatile fit, but so is Edman; trading Donovan could be the easiest way to obtain the type of controllable pitching the Cardinals desire without disrupting their depth chart.
And oh, do the Dodgers ever have controllable pitching!
LA's former rival won't sell one of their most desirable assets unless they get two or three upper-echelon pitching prospects, and the Dodgers have so many powerful right arms they'd barely miss a pair. The Yankees and Cardinals have been a long-theorized fit for the same reason, but ... the Dodgers' pitching prospects are ... better? And their team is ... better?
So, when it comes to remaking rosters at the 2023 deadline, expect the Yankees to shoot lower than the Dodgers while prioritizing team control. Dylan Carlson, welcome to the Bronx! Brendan Donovan, do you love LA?
Can Dodgers, Cardinals hook up for Brendan Donovan trade?
Donovan, with a 120 OPS+ and 1.9 bWAR through July 20, has been an even better player than you thought for nearly two full seasons now. In fact, his second campaign has been essentially identical to his first (124 OPS+ last season, .281 vs. .284 average), but with more pop in 2023 (11 homers to 5).
Donovan's calling card is his extreme versatility; he's recorded 30 or more plate appearances at first, second, left field, right field, and DH this year, making four appearances at third base and a single one at shortstop. Unlike the Cardinals, the Dodgers have outfield slots up for grabs, as well as a middle infield that could use a makeover. Remember when, "Uh, just put Mookie Betts at second?" felt like a viable long-term solution? Yeah, no. Fun, but no.
What would it take from the Dodgers' end to blow the Cardinals away and ensure they were alright shaking hands with the enemy? Emmet Sheehan has probably established himself well enough at the MLB level to be immediately viable. How 'bout you pair him with Nick Nastrini and Ryan Pepiot, add a teenaged lottery ticket prospect, and call it a day? Sheehan, Nastrini and River Ryan could work, too, if the Yankees come harder than expected.
We know dealing with St. Louis isn't a Dodger fan's dream, but making Donovan the target ensures that the process will be painful the Cardinals' braintrust. Best we can do.