The 2023 Los Angeles Dodgers are loaded with kids and bounce-back veterans, and have done a fantastic job of bucking muted preseason expectations (and fending off pitching injury after pitching injury).
That's exactly why, despite fielding a roster that looks more unimpressive than normal on the surface, this year's Dodgers team deserves significant upgrades. Their undermanned roster has earned them.
So, where to first? The bullpen? They've found their legs recently, but could still use a stopper or two. The middle infield? They're muddling through, but we're not sure how. Miguel Rojas has zero homers and 11 RBI this season. The rotation? Yes. Definitely. What else you got?
The Dodgers' top realistic target is probably Lucas Giolito of the White Sox, shown above obscuring his face with his glove so any scouts watching his most recent start against the Mets wouldn't know it was him on the mound. Will LA go all in for Giolito? Or is that so much of a given that, instead of theorizing about how to secure his services, they've moved on to adding even more to their Chicago return?
Ex-MLB GM Jim Bowden, now with The Athletic, created a Dodgers-White Sox trade package that would have LA surrendering even more assets in exchange for Giolito, reliever Kendall Graveman and ex-All-Star Tim Anderson. Yea, despite Anderson's extreme struggles, or hard nay to focus on Giolito instead?
Dodgers Rumors: Tim Anderson, Bullpen help attached to Lucas Giolito trade?
Bowden's package includes one top Dodgers catching prospect (either Diego Cartaya or the surging Dalton Rushing), one top starting prospect (either Gavin Stone or Michael Grove, presumably depending on which catcher is included), and one second base prospect (Jorbit Vivas or Rayne Doncon). He also notes that "other prospect combinations could work" -- oh, thanks! But we're gonna talk about this one. 'Cause you said it.
Giolito and Graveman (if available, and he should be) make perfect sense for the Dodgers. But is it worth paying a higher price just to include Anderson, who's mired in a homerless stretch that makes Anthony Rizzo's look pedestrian (he's been worth -1.5 bWAR this season without a homer)? There's "tough year," and there's whatever Anderson is currently having. There aren't a lot of attractive middle infield options on the market, but introducing the White Sox shortstop into a crowded picture muddled with .200 hitters could only make things more explosive (and not in a good way).
If they were able to buy low, it'd be a different story. But attaching him to a larger package as a poison pill doesn't seem palatable.
Trade Grade: B-. Including a top-tier catcher in a deal like this (without a sure thing) is risky, but the emergence of Rushing (as well as Cartaya's slight regression) makes this easier to swallow. Got to give to get, right? Nobody knows that better than the Dodgers. But Cartaya and Stone is an awful lot to give. So is Rushing/Grove. You just wonder if removing Anderson could lessen the cost and make it more obviously joyful.