The San Diego Padres might seem like they're a lost cause for the 2023 season, but their trade deadline endeavors suggested the organization feels differently. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Dodgers made middling acquisitions a surefire contender probably wouldn't. Or, they would, and it'd all be supplementary in preparation for a bigger move.
The Dodgers ended up with Kiké Hernandez, Amed Rosario, Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. Not bad. Not great. You simply can't firmly believe those moves will drastically shift the dynamic for the Dodgers, who needed better pitching and more capable hitting vs left-handers.
Meanwhile, the Padres, at 53-55, added starter Rich Hill, closer Scott Barlow, and sluggers Ji-Man Choi and Garrett Cooper. That's an objectively better haul than what the Dodgers pulled off.
Not to mention, the Padres stole two targets that the Dodgers should've been all over in Hill and Barlow. Hill, a former Dodger, would've been a great addition to help lengthen the rotation and protect the bullpen from further exposure. Barlow, though he's not having a good 2023, was a smart piece to buy low on in hopes he rediscovers his 2021-2022 form (and he's under club control through 2024).
How did the Padres end up doing a better job patching up their rotation and bullpen when their staff, as a whole, is better than the Dodgers'?
Padres swiping 2 Dodgers targets at trade deadline adds to fans' pain
Hill was an obvious rental target for the Dodgers given his veteran pedigree, ability to eat innings, and familiarity with LA. His 4.76 ERA, 4.45 FIP and 1.48 WHIP in 22 starts is nothing special, but he'll give you a much better chance to win than, say, Michael Grove, and he could eventually be used as a swingman out of the bullpen come the postseason.
Barlow was another classic Dodgers "project." The right-hander's advanced metrics are the complete opposite of his surface-level numbers, which suggests a positive regression to the mean could be on the way. The Dodgers love that, but apparently the Padres loved it more.
This isn't even close to the Dodgers' biggest deadline offense, either. Letting the Astros swipe Justin Verlander (unless he wasn't willing to waive his no-trade to go to LA) was fairly frustrating. Not inquiring about Eduardo Rodriguez's no-trade clause until the very end of the negotiations was borderline malpractice. Getting beat for Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito? Simply cannot go 0-for-5.
The Padres made it 0-for-7 when all was said and done, and that further adds to the rightful frustration.