The Los Angeles Dodgers have lost two straight series, and in the finale against the Reds on Sunday, they lost a couple of players to injury. That might intensify their efforts at the trade deadline, which are plentiful at the moment.
Both JD Martinez and Will Smith had to depart the 9-0 loss to Cincinnati, with Martinez suffering a hamstring strain and Smith getting hit in the elbow by a pitch. Martinez left in the second inning and Smith left in the third.
Manager Dave Roberts didn't sound concerned about Smith, claiming his situation wasn't serious and should be day to day, but he mentioned Martinez would be headed for an MRI to determine the severity of his strain.
The Dodgers have largely struggled offensively over their past week of games (3.4 runs per), so any injuries that compromise their lineup, which has been their strength (and keeping the weakened pitching staff afloat) would be problematic for the stretch run.
Andrew Friedman is reportedly heavily involved in talks for pitchers, but he may need to shift his attention toward another bat depending on Martinez's situation.
Dodgers News: Updated trade deadline buzz, JD Martinez and Will Smith injuries
Speaking of the trade deadline buzz, it's plentiful. The Dodgers are reportedly linked to Mets ace Justin Verlander, but many obstacles remain. New York seems to be flip-flopping because Verlander was reportedly "available" just a few days ago, but after the Rangers-Max Scherzer trade, it's been said they're less inclined to trade their other ace.
There's also the return package and money that make any potential Verlander deal difficult. He's the highest-paid pitcher on an AAV basis in MLB and has been very good of late. It's unclear if Steve Cohen would be willing to eat as much money as he did in the Scherzer deal.
How about another Mets pitcher, though?
Per reports, reliever Brooks Raley is on the Dodgers' radar. Joe Kelly rejoined the Dodgers' bullpen last week and Lance Lynn is in the rotation, but more pieces are needed. Maybe Raley plus another one of these rumored starters?
Other buzz has suggested the Dodgers have checked in on Royals right-hander Brady Singer and Pirates All-Star Mitch Keller. It's unclear how far the talks have gotten or if either team is willing to trade their pitchers, but Friedman has seemingly cast a wide-ranging net.
Singer, 26, represents a reclamation project, as he's regressed big time in 2023. After what seemed like a breakout 2022 (3.23 ERA, 3.58 FIP and 1.14 WHIP in 27 games), he's logged a 5.46 ERA, 4.08 FIP and 1.46 WHIP in 21 starts this year. He can be controlled through 2026, though, which is likely the man reason the Dodgers are interested.
As for Keller, he's controllable through 2025 but would be much more costly. The 27-year-old has now put together back-to-back solid campaigns after failing to catch on from 2019-2021. He was an All-Star in the first half and currently sports a 3.97 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 1.21 WHIP with 145 strikeouts in 22 starts (133.2 innings). His peripheral metrics are positive for the most part, too.
Friedman and the Dodgers have surprised us before, so ruling these out -- no matter how unlikely -- wouldn't be wise. LA's farm system is one of the few that could move the needle for teams unwilling to part with valuable MLB talent.
Singer and Keller don't represent game-changing acquisitions, but one of them would certainly help create a more concrete roadmap for the rotation beyond 2023 (and help deepen the current cast that has been struggling for most of this year).
We're within 36 hours of the trade deadline, so stay tuned for updates and breaking stories!