Dodgers News: Big Walker Buehler update, more on Eduardo Rodriguez trade saga

Walker Buehler is getting closer and let's put the E-Rod stuff to bed.
Division Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Division Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Last week, Walker Buehler posted a video of himself hurling pitches off a mound with a hitter in the batter's box. The man is ready to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers and help them make a playoff run ... as long as the team clears him.

Good news! He's officially taken the next step in his rehab process. Before Thursday's series finale against the Oakland A's, Buehler was pitching off flat ground in the outfield. Not too long after, manager Dave Roberts provided the media with a positive update.

Buehler will throw his first official bullpen session on Friday ahead of the weekend series against the Padres at Petco Park, marking the true beginning of his road back to the big-league roster. The right-hander hasn't pitched since June 10 of last year when he was sidelined with an elbow injury.

He later needed Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in late August of 2022, so it always felt like a bit of a longshot he'd be able to return in 2023.

Buehler didn't feel that way, though. He said before the season started that he expected to be back, then later predicted he'd be ready by September, something the Dodgers refused to agree with publicly. Then, this week, general manager Brandon Gomes said there's a real possibility the right-hander returns before the season ends.

Dodgers News: Big Walker Buehler update, more on Eduardo Rodriguez trade saga

Buehler's presence would be an immense boost for a struggling pitching staff that''s trying to navigate its way through injuries, regressions and the addition of new faces (Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and Ryan Yarbrough joined the staff while the team parted with Justin Bruihl, Phil Bickford and Adam Kolarek).

It almost got a game-changing shot in the arm when LA was nearing the finish line for a trade involving Eduardo Rodriguez, but it famously fell apart when the left-hander invoked his no-trade clause. Turns out, the Dodgers made a number of attempts to acquire pitching that also involving sending Rodriguez elsewhere, but nothing worked out. Hand up: this really wasn't all on the Dodgers for not getting more information on his no-trade clause.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required), Rodriguez's agent "asked for financial and contractual enhancements for the pitcher to join the Dodgers," but LA didn't budge. As a result, E-Rod denied the deal and stayed in Detroit.

Apparently, the Tigers and Dodgers attempted to work out three-team deals with the Twins and Rays, with the Dodgers' package of prospects heading to Detroit, Rodriguez landing in either Minnesota or Tampa, and LA receiving an established MLB starter (Rosenthal mentioned Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda as possibilities).

In the end, nothing got done. The Dodgers came up empty handed, the Tigers got stuck with Rodriguez. As Rosenthal noted, it's hard to fully assess blame to one party, but perhaps Andrew Friedman shouldn't have gotten mired in such a complicated mess on deadline day, where every second mattered.