With the trade deadline now three weeks away, the Dodgers’ front office will spend most of their time looking to upgrade the best team in baseball. Their biggest and arguably only real need is a left-handed reliever but the options might be limited.
The top names like Sean Doolittle, Brad Hand and Felipe Vazquez might be unavailable as their teams are still in the hunt. The lower-tier guys like Tony Watson and Jake Diekman have struggled or have some serious concerns. And the player most likely to be traded, Will Smith of the Giants, could end up being one of the most costly players available, even as a rental since multiple contenders need a closer.
That’s where Aaron Bummer of the White Sox comes in, and he’s almost certainly on the Dodgers’ radar. They were interested in him during the off-season after he showed signs of a breakout during 2018, pitching to a 2.40 FIP over 31 2/3 innings.
Aaron Bummer > Tony Watson
— Blake (@ByBlakeWilliams) July 5, 2019
This year, the 25-year-old is having a strong season, posting a 1.89 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 9.18 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, and 0.6 WAR in 33 1/3 innings. With his high-velocity sinker, Bummer has held opponents to 0.54 HR/9 and a 65 percent ground ball rate. He has also been very effective against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .214/.267/.262 line, which is something the Dodgers’ bullpen badly needs.
His batted ball profile backs up his season as he is in the 70th percentile of strikeout percentage, 80th percentile of average exit velocity allowed, 89th percentile of hard-hit percentage and 93rd percentile of expected wOBA. To put that in simple terms, he’s getting a good amount of strikeouts and not allowing hitters to hit the ball well.
Bummer would also provide some versatility to the Dodgers’ bullpen since he could work as a left-handed specialist, groundball specialist, or a late-inning arm depending on what they need that game.
He Could Come at a High Cost
The biggest hurdle to acquire Bummer is he still has four years of team control after this season. But for a rebuilder like the White Sox, dealing relievers in breakout years is usually the smartest thing to do since they are so volatile. The Dodgers might also be more inclined to pay the cost for his team control since they’ve been looking for a good left-handed reliever for what feels like forever.
The best-case scenario is still a trade for Vazquez or Hand, with Smith and Doolittle being close seconds. But if the Dodgers aren’t able to make one of those deals work, it wouldn’t be a bummer if they ended up with Bummer.