Dodgers: How Aggressive Should LA Be at the Trade Deadline?

The Dodgers have one of the best records in Major League Baseball. They also have many injury issues and that doesn’t seem to have slowed down. There are many desirable prospects in the farm system that other teams would demand in any trade for a player of quality. Oh yeah, the Trade Deadline is less than a week away on Friday, July 30th.

The question becomes, is it worth trading an “untouchable” prospect to fill one or more of the many gaps on the Dodgers? Let’s identify some of the needs on this team.

The Needs

Starting Pitching

At the beginning of the season, the Dodgers had a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, Julio Urias, and Dustin May. As of this writing, Kershaw is on the Injured List, Bauer is on administrative leave and May had season-ending Tommy John surgery. Only Kershaw is expected back this season but he just began throwing again.

Currently, the rotation is as follows:

  • Walker Buehler – ace of the staff this season
  • Julio Urias – he’s going to be way over his career highs in the number of innings pitched. He has been pretty good so far.
  • David Price – he started the season in the bullpen but has been forced into the rotation and is building up his innings.
  • Tony Gonsolin – he began the season injured. His command has been off more than usual but he does seem to be improving. He is also still building up his innings.
  • Josiah Gray – the top pitching prospect for the Dodgers, he just made his Major League debut as a bulk-innings guy. He gave up too many home runs but struck out seven in four innings. Dave Roberts stated that Gray is in the rotation for now. He is also coming off of an injury and is building up his innings.

It is clear that the starting rotation is in need of a pitcher or two to be good for 6-7 innings per start. The playoff rotation should be good with Buehler, Kershaw, and Urias. The fourth guy could be Price. However, I would want to see Urias as the fourth option in October as he has proven himself as a weapon out of the bullpen.

So, I see a need for a top-three pitcher.


Over the last week, we have witnessed four games where the bullpen blew a lead in the ninth inning. Kenley Jansen has had some impressive numbers but this post forecasts some regression.

As I’ve stated many times, I do not believe in a single closer, but Dave Roberts does. Given that, do the Dodgers trust that Jansen can be the closer through the entirety of the season? Julio Urias, as of now, needs to be in the rotation.

The Dodgers bullpen has had a lot of pressure put on them with all the bullpen games. Will the bullpen be tired by October? They’ve had pieces they’ve counted on like Brusdar Graterol and Victor Gonzalez not fulfill the promise that they showed in 2020. Corey Knebel and Jimmy Nelson have been good but Knebel has been out since April and Nelson has been out almost a month now.

So, as ANY team, the Dodgers need bullpen help, preferably a high-leverage pitcher.

A Bat (or two)

A key acquisition the Dodgers made in 2018 was David Freese and he was excellent. They need someone who can either start or come off the bench and be a good Major League hitter. The guys from Triple-A have not done the job this season. The injured list has been filled with excellent players all season and the players filling in have been a huge step down.

Over the last few seasons, the Dodgers have had so much depth that every position player on the team was worthy of being a starter on at least half of the teams in baseball. That is not the case in 2021 and it is pretty obvious. When the Dodgers are healthy the team is strong:

  • Mookie Betts – RF
  • Corey Seager – SS
  • Justin Turner – 3B
  • Max Muncy – 1B
  • Will Smith – C
  • Cody Bellinger – CF
  • Chris Taylor – 2B
  • AJ Pollock – LF

That is a very strong lineup. The only other two players that have proven themselves in MLB would be Austin Barnes and Matt Beaty. I’m not sold on Zach McKinstry for 2021 yet. The rest have not proven themselves. I believe in players like Gavin Lux but we can wait until next year with him and the others. The only other player in the system that seems ready is alleged trade candidate Keibert Ruiz.

Ruiz is a switch-hitting catcher who has had some success in MLB but is crushing it in Triple-A. Bring this dude up. Then you only need one more bat, preferably right-handed. Yes, he is only a catcher but his bat could work into the lineup. If any team can think outside of the box it is the Dodgers. Is there any player available worth giving up Ruiz for?

A Glove (or two)

According to FanGraphs, the Dodgers have a Defensive Runs Saved of -10! Their overall defensive rating is an abysmal -15. The primary players that are hurting on defense are Justin Turner, Zach McKinstry, Corey Seager, and Matt Beaty. This is where the team misses Kiké Hernandez the most. At the end of the game, Kiké would be in the game for defensive purposes. Joc Pederson was serviceable in both left and right field.

This season there is not that good glove off the bench to help finish games or to get a spot start. With Turner and Seager, their bats are elite but if they are taking a game off or are injured, the Dodgers cannot replace their offense but should have a better glove out there. Chris Taylor plays a good enough shortstop but he is not always available to play there. He is most valuable when he can play more than one position in the game based on the flow of the game.

The Dodgers need both an infielder (shortstop a must) and outfielder) on the bench that are defensive upgrades when they enter the game.

Tradeable Assets

I believe that the following prospects are untouchable:

  • Josiah Gray
  • Keibert Ruiz
  • Michael Busch
  • Ryan Pepiot
  • Diego Cartaya
  • Luis Rodriguez
  • Bobby Miller
  • Wilman Diaz

These are the players that would need to be traded to acquire players like Craig Kimbrel, Max Scherzer, Jose Berrios, Luis Castillo, Jose Ramirez, or Kris Bryant. Some of these players are free agents after 2021 but there are also some good players with some team control.

Why Go Big?

Our own Doug McKain makes some strong points for going big.

In my opinion, Doug’s second point is the strongest. If you look at all the contenders I don’t see one team that I fear IF the Dodgers are close to full strength. That is the big “if”.

Why To Not Go Big?

  • This team cannot stay healthy
  • There are too many holes as mentioned above
  • They have consistently been bad in extra innings and one run games

Are these reasons enough? Do the Dodgers give up someone like Keibert Ruiz to fill one hole and still have three more to fill?

Final Thoughts

I go back and forth on this issue. As a known #ProspectHugger, I am reluctant to part ways with any of the ones I believe the Dodgers hold untouchable. In the past, the Dodgers have done a good job of holding on to the right prospects. However, I think other teams are reluctant to deal with the Dodgers for fear of getting ripped off. They aren’t going to accept anything less than the top prospects for their good players.

I am concerned that this team cannot stay healthy but they don’t need to be 100% healthy. Again, as Doug McKain stated, the rest of the league is nothing special. With most players healthy, the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. Can they stay healthy?

Will this be a boring Trade Deadline for the Dodgers, like 2019 and 2020 or will there be a last-minute blockbuster like in 2017? What do you want to see the Dodgers do? Have at it in the comments.

NEXT: MLB Expert Predicts Top Closer Craig Kimbrel to Los Angeles

Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger


  1. A trade chip not mentioned is Austin Barnes. A career .230 hitter, Barnes is most known for athleticism and handling Kershaw. At this point, Smith is the C for the next 8 years. I’d bring up Ruiz and trade Barnes.

    Here’s the latest on Ruiz: https://www.mlb.com/dodgers/news/keibert-ruiz-hits-three-home-runs?t=mlb-pipeline-coverage

    Besides, an experienced C that is in the top half of the league, should bring back a closer/reliever by himself.

  2. Kenley is a free agent after this season…best move would be to find a closer now depending on cost to us. Second best and essential move would be a #4 or 5 starter that can eat innings and keep us in the game. He would also be available for long relief in the post season.

    1. I have been a die-hard Dodger fan since 1959, when they moved to LA. We have both seen the ups and downs over the last 6 decades. The philosophy of the game has changed over 60 years as well. A pitcher’s best selling point at contract time was the number of complete games he had. Now, the owners and managers change pitchers at 6-7 innings or 100+ pitches. They claim is that it extends their career. In my opinion, this is like thinking you’re going to live in the same house you just bought on a 30-yr mortgage. Not many people stay in the same house for 30 years, and a pitcher who has been playing for 10+ years is losing value as well. Exceptions? Sure. Tommy John was a HUGE exception, but he was a rare gem.
      The Dodgers of the 70’s were built on speed, sound pitching, and great fundamentals. Davey Lopes and Maury Wills could distract most pitchers to the point that they ended up giving up a hit and/or a stolen base. We could bunt. We were not afraid to use the suicide squeeze when the opportunity was there. We can’t do that now because we don’t have anyone to count on the make the bunt. There are just so many things that are different now that I think have taken away from the game. I understand that when you are paying someone $30 million plus, you want him to stay healthy. I get it. But…these guys won’t be around forever. Nobody is. I say, use them while you can and trade them when you can find a better option.

  3. One trade I’d LOVE to see would be trading much of my current bullpen staff and most of my top prospects to the Angels for Ohtani and possible Trout. I know it’s a dream that would cost a fortune and still not happen. I’d trade Jansen to a women’s softball team if I thought they would do it. I just have no faith in him now. Every time he takes the mound in a close game, my stomach churns because I know what is likely to happen. It’s true that he has improved since the beginning of the year, but he hasn’t been consistent long enough to convince me he is a safe bet. LA seriously needs a good starter and at least one more good closer. I feel the offense will come around at some point. They’ve just had too many injuries to remain sharp when they return to the big time…

  4. Very aggressive. A closer and a catcher that can throw runners out. Our injuries will heal by the time we hit August but our lack of quality bullpen and defensive catcher hurts our chances. Now, when we talk manager, I’ll reserve comment because it is my belief he needs to be relieved of his duties.

    1. I tend to agree with most of your thoughts. One exception would be the catcher. While neither Will Smith or Austin Barnes have the arm of a Molina or a Bench, Smith is an above average hitting catcher. He is also faster on the bases than many catchers. Is he expendable as a catcher? Sure. IF you can find a catcher who hits better and can throw out any runner. Remember this, however: a runner steals a base on the PITCHER, not the catcher. We have pitchers that rarely give more that a glance at a runner. By the time the catcher gets the ball, the runner is 2/3 of the way to the next base!
      I can’t make a decent argument against a closer, though, and I agree that Roberts could easily be replaced. I always felt the same about Alston, as well. Too many times I feel like Roberts sits on his butt until the most severe damage has been done. He watches a pitcher struggle to find the strike zone much too long. I don’t believe in waiting for a pitcher to “find his rhythm” in a close game. If he has trouble throwing strikes, get him off the mound! A pitcher who is wild helps no one but the opposing team. Sometimes a good offense can’t offset a bad pitcher’s mistakes. Mistakes lead to runs. Maybe more than a good offense can make up for….

      1. Pitchers “passing glance” to runners is on Mark Prior. I still say a catcher that can throw out runners from getting into scoring position stunts the possibility of a rally. Work on pitchers with runners on, give me a consistent catcher with a gun and I’d rather that than a catcher with better than average speed who hits .264 (1 for 4). Im old school and yearn for the days where teams played fundamental baseball.

      2. True. Runners steal on the pitcher not the catcher. Wonder why pitching coach Pryor haven’t addressed things. He’s as clueless as Roberts.

  5. Trade Barnes, bring up Ruiz and teach Smith another position to keep his bat in the lineup. Smith a liability behind the plate. How much worse could Ruiz possibly be. This offense could use that stick

  6. We have needs. We need another proven starter. Kenta Maeda is available and we could get him for a box of Pop Tarts. We have a great closer already on the squad in Blake Treinen. Let us not forget he had 38 saves and a .078 era in 2018! One of the greatest seasons any reliever has had all time!!! He literally throws about 10 pitches per outing. His slider is un hittable. Someone mentioned our catchers can’t throw out base runners? That’s ridiculous. Both our catchers are capable of throwing out runners except all of our pitchers don’t know how to hold runners on. That’s on Roberts and Prior and the pitchers. Make it a point of emphasis and you can improve those results immediately.
    Listen. There is good news. We still have the one of the best records in spite of having our best players on the IL all season. If you told me that Seager, Bellinger, May, Turner, Lux, Betts would all spend lengthy time injured and we would still be 20 games over .500 I’d tell you to hydrate because you’re delirious! IF we can get a couple pitchers and get everyone healthy for the last 40 or so games and kidnap Kenley Jansen so Roberts can’t find him we could easily contend for another championship.

  7. Why was Freidman asleep at the wheel when Adam Frazier (MLB hits leader) was traded to San Diego from the Pirates. San Diego traded 3 minor leaguers (the highest being the San Diego’s 4th
    level minor leaguers). We sure could have used Frazier with Lux ( not healthy and hitting low and Neuse a waste) for our mid rated minor leaguers ( like Neuse, Uceta ,Raley, Reks etc.)

  8. The Dodgers are looking to add a front line pitcher and a possible closer Not another bat.

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