The Dodgers almost have to be heavily involved in the trade market this offseason. For one thing, they’re going to have holes they need to fill in the starting lineup, on the bench, and on the pitching staff. Even more importantly for purposes of this conversation, they have a huge roster crunch coming.
Once free agency starts, Los Angeles will have 37 players on the 40-man roster. The number is currently at 46, but nine players are hitting free agency. They could free up another few spots if they decline their option on Justin Turner and/or non-tender Cody Bellinger, and they also hold club options on Hanser Alberto, Danny Duffy, and Jimmy Nelson.
Still, even if they cut ties with all those guys, that’s 32 players and several holes in the roster. And that’s before you factor in the Rule 5 Draft. Players who meet Rule 5 eligibility (four years in the system if they signed at age 19 or older, five years for those who signed at 18 or younger) must be added to the 40-man roster or the team risks losing them. The Dodgers have at least a handful of players they’ll want to protect, thereby using some of those open roster spots.
With all that said, let’s talk about a few guys who might be on the trading block this offseason for any combination of the above reasons:
Pages is a top prospect in the Dodgers’ system who has light-tower power and a cannon for an arm. He also plays the same position and Mookie Betts and strikes out a ton, and he’ll be Rule-5 eligible this offseason. He would surely be taken in the Rule 5 draft if left unprotected, so the Dodgers either have to add him to the 40-man roster, trade him, or lose him for nothing. With his lack of fit on the active roster going forward, it seems like a trade is the most likely option.
This is a tough one. It’s easy to see the Dodgers finding a spot in the starting lineup for Vargas, whom they believe has the bat skills to be an excellent big-league hitter. Plug him in as the everyday left-fielder, deal with the weakened defense out there, and let him rake.
But it’s also easy to see Los Angeles using Vargas as the key figure in a blockbuster trade for a starting pitcher. His cup of coffee in the big leagues didn’t go great, but he hit .304/.402/.511 with Oklahoma City and was named the Triple-A Player of the Year by Baseball America. His stock is high, and without a clear defensive fit in L.A., the team could sell high on him.
Yeah, yeah, Lux is on this list every year, it seems. And chances are he won’t be traded, just as he wasn’t last year or the year before. But he rebuilt some of his trade value with a solid 2022 season, and he is another player who could headline a big deal. Michael Busch is knocking on the door to be L.A.’s starting second baseman, and if the Dodgers aren’t comfortable with Lux as their starting shortstop, they might consider moving him if the right deal comes along.
A few other players who could be traded, if for no other reason than 40-man roster relief: Trayce Thompson, Ryan Noda, Jose Ramos, Jorbit Vivas, Eddys Leonard, Jacob Amaya.
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