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.
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.
Kenley Jansen post: Kenley has a 1.38 ERA on the year, with 37 K’s in 32 innings. With that being said, he does have an FIP of 3.22. He is definitely due for some regression. I love Kenley, but don’t be surprised if he blows a save or two soon enough. His luck will catch up …
— /r/Dodgers (@dodgers_r) July 4, 2021
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.
What a night from the #Dodgers No. 1 prospect Keibert Ruiz
? 3 HR
? Double that was nearly another HR
? 5 RBI
Season stats: .309 AVG, 1.026 OPS, 16 HR, 43 RBI pic.twitter.com/EphNxJci5d
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) July 24, 2021
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.
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.
Reasons why Dodgers should go all-in:
1. Could be Kershaw & Seager's last year in LA
2. Still favorites to win WS/everyone is beatable
3. Prime Buehler, Betts, Muncy/great age 36 year from JT
4. Chance to be the first team to go b2b since 2000 Yankees.
5. What else?
— Doug McKain (@DMAC_LA) July 24, 2021
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?
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.