The MLB trade deadline of Aug. 2 is fast approaching, and with it comes chances for the Los Angeles Dodgers to seal any leaks in their armor as the second half of the season heats up.
A number of holes remain for the Dodgers, especially with a slurry of injuries plaguing the pitchers, both starters and the bullpen.
They weren’t expecting to need to fill the gaping chasm left when Walker Buehler was forced to leave in June with a flexor tendon strain and for an arthroscopic operation to remove a bone spur in his elbow. Their ace may not even factor into their 2022 season if his expected return in late August doesn’t come to pass. That reality is entirely possible, and one the Dodgers need to prepare for.
What Are the Dodgers’ Trade Deadline Needs?
The options are intriguing. The urgency is building.
Currently, in the starting rotation, Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney are in one-year deals. Trevor Bauer won’t likely see the light of day, but he’s an untouchable. Julio Urías, who becomes a free agent after 2023 anyway, has been steady for most of the season and filled in for Buehler. He has a 3.01 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 86-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 89.2 innings. So holding onto him isn’t much of a risk, but losing him is.
One lesson the Dodgers ought to have learned from 2021 is to buoy their rotation before the playoffs, or run the risk of burning out Urías and the remaining starters. As it stands now, Daniel Hudson, and Tommy Kahnle are on the injured list. Blake Treinen just threw his first bullpen session last weekend after being placed on the injured list in late April.
Los Angeles Dodgers Trade Deadline Targets
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
All teams are guilty of coveting the 2022 Home Run Derby champion. But the Dodgers are in an enviable position of actually being able to make a deal for Soto happen.
The Washington Nationals reportedly offered Soto $440 million for a 15-year contract but he turned it down. Some say he wants more money, while others guess it’s the lack of ownership stability. Soto will likely set a record for the biggest deal in MLB history. What the Nationals lack in player development and youthful talent is precisely where the Dodgers excel.
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Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds
Truth be told, the Dodgers need another starting pitcher. And Castillo is a prime target. There’s simply way too much at stake in the postseason without knowing how much they can count on Buehler.
While Castillo has been one of the best pitchers in the National League for almost three years, the 29-year-old does not become a free agent until after next year. The New York Yankees and Dodgers are current favorites to land Castillo, but other teams, such as the Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, and Houston Astros, are all vying for the right-hander.
Remember the days of Kiké Hernández?
In his Dodgers career, he played over 500 innings at four different positions — second base, center field, left field, and shortstop. He started 35 games in right field, 14 games at third base, 11 games at first base, and even pitched one time. The Dodgers may seek that same magical quality in a bargain player who can field a variety of roles.
The Reds’ Brandon Drury and Donovan Solano, or Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals, are options. Although Merrifield is taking a lot of heat in the headlines these days over his Covid-19 vaccination comments.
Who Might the Dodgers Trade Away?
Price joined the Dodgers in 2020 as part of the Mookie Betts trade. He left the World Series-winning 2020 season due to health concerns, pitched as part of the bullpen, made a handful of starts in 2021, was out for a short while due to a Covid-19 positive status, and has been exclusively pitching as a bullpen option this year.
Price has posted a solid 3.20 ERA, 3.28 FIP and 1.32 WHIP in 19 appearances this season. For his career, he owns a 155-82 record with a 3.33 ERA, 3.38 FIP and 1.16 WHIP in 379 games (322 starts). This is the last year of his seven-year deal he originally signed with the Boston Red Sox.
While it’s been reported that he may retire for good, there could be options for him. Earlier this year, there was chatter regarding a potential trade to allow Price to have a starting role elsewhere. He’s already shown he prefers to see his younger Dodgers counterparts like Mitch White take the mound. But if Price wants to extend his baseball career, perhaps this is his last chance.
The luxury of youth. Time is on this 24-year-old’s side so he will bounce back. He was intended to be a shortstop, but was initially moved to second base due to stiff competition. While he is still putting up good numbers for the Dodgers, his lack of experience showed in last year’s playoffs, especially in defensive plays.
Even though Lux is an option to fill in for Trea Turner if he leaves in his free agency, they could trade him for a more seasoned player. Lux deserves better than having to fight for his position.
It’s difficult to admit the former MVP never recovered from his injuries and his all-time worst performance in 2021. He’s still incredible as a center fielder, but his at bat is suffering. He’s hitting just .203 with a .651 OPS and 78 OPS+.
Los Angeles gave Bellinger a second chance for $17 million for this year. Dodgers fans have endured a lot of painful goodbyes to players they once considered franchise faces. Perhaps it is time to move on and let go of Belli too.
Max Muncy or Justin Turner
In spite of how fast he plummeted after his season-ending and tragic 2021 elbow injury that knocked him out of the playoffs, Muncy is still fighting to stay relevant. At the age of 32, and for a bargain price of $26 million for a three-year contract, quitting on him is not that enticing.
As for Turner, he is a shadow of his former self. Likely his latest collapse is due to the hamstring injury he suffered in last year’s playoffs. He’s a name that has become synonymous with the word Dodgers. Yet, after nine years, it may be time to start fresh somewhere else rather than tarnish his record.
He’s a negative WAR player and has hit just .212 with a .629 OPS and 74 OPS+ through 63 games. Turner’s $16 million team option for 2023 also has a $2 million buyout. So it’s an easy out for the Dodgers. A change might do him and the Boys in Blue some good.
Bottom line: Trades are never painless. Usually the more it hurts, the more useful it is.