‘Tis the trade season and the Dodgers have a lot of prospects other teams should want.
Over the last few seasons the Dodgers have made a concerted effort to build a strong farm system. There are many advantages to having a farm system that is continually feeding into the Major League roster. Not having to make too many panic trades or make major mistakes in big money free agency are just two of those. Having cheap talent continuing to come up and contribute also allows key free agents to be retained.
I believe the Dodgers have a small list of players in their farm system that they won’t trade unless it is part of a totally lopsided trade. Past players on that list would be like Corey Seager, Julio Urías, Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler. In general, they consider those players as “can’t miss” and I think they’ve done well in keeping those players at the time. Some would say we could have had certain players if we just gave up those guys and the Dodgers would have won a World Series. Clearly, there are no guarantees in the playoffs and the Dodgers take a philosophy of not blowing the prospect bank.
For this article I’ll break down some key trade chips and what the likelihood they have of being a player the Dodgers might trade or hold on to. The Dodgers have a lot of excellent prospects, even after trading some strong prospects in the last few years. Highly ranked prospects like Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton, Willie Calhoun and Yusniel Diaz helped bring the Dodgers players like Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Manny Machado. I’ll discuss some of them in order based on the latest top 30 list from MLB Pipeline.
Their prospect ranking is in parenthesis after their position.
Alex Verdugo – OF (1)
If I were in charge, I’d trade another outfielder to make sure Verdugo gets a full time job with the Dodgers in 2019. However, it’s time to play him or trade him. I’m think he’s got Christian Yelich potential and I’d hate to see him traded. The Dodgers have held onto him for quite a long time but this could be the time he is traded. He would require elite talent in return. Either he is traded or there is another trade where Joc Pederson and/or Yasiel Puig are moved.
Keibert Ruiz – C (2)
I think Ruiz is on the “do not trade” list. He just turned 20, is a switch hitter, he’s a good catcher and is one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball. He’s the starting catcher in 2020 or 2021. If he’s traded I’ll be shocked.
Dustin May – RHP (3)
May is also 20 and might very well be on the “do not trade” list. He keeps improving every year and is not someone they will part with easily. He is still growing into his body and I expect even more velocity to go along with his excellent control. The way the Dodgers pushed up Dennis Santana and Caleb Ferguson in 2018, May is a prime candidate to be on the same track if there are a lot of injuries at the top level. Highly doubtful he is traded but the Dodgers do have a lot of right handed pitching prospects.
Gavin Lux – SS/2B (4)
Lux took major steps in 2018 and could also be on the “do not trade” list. I could only see them trading him if they don’t think he can be a shortstop at the Major League level or if they acquire someone like Jean Segura to play second base for the next few years. If they keep him I expect him to battle for playing time with the Dodgers in 2020.
Will Smith – C (5)
Another excellent catching prospect, he’s 3 years older than Ruiz. He is very strong defensively and has shown some promise at the plate. His AAA debut was a tough one as he only batted .138. He would be a prime candidate to go in a trade for another Major League catcher. I would hope they’d hold onto him unless the catcher coming back is a legitimate starter.
Dennis Santana – RHP (6)
Santana was brought up quickly and had his MLB debut in 2018. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury and didn’t contribute after that. There is a lot of upside and he might end up as a reliever. He’s still relatively new to pitching so there might be more upside. He’s one I’d be reluctant to trade.
Mitchell White – RHP (7)
White was in AA all year and finished with an ERA of 4.53 in 105.1 innings pitched. He struck out 88 and walked 34. However, he ended strong with an ERA of 3.02 in his last 10 games. I believe he will end up as a reliever. It is very possible that if they traded him they’d be selling a little low.
D.J. Peters – OF (8)
Peters is one of those big power guys who strikes out a lot. He slashed .236/.320/.473/.793 with 192 strikeouts. For a big guy he’s pretty fast and can play all outfield positions. I think he lost some value this year with his strikeout numbers and they’d be selling low on him.
Jeren Kendall – OF (9)
The Dodgers’ first round pick in 2017, Kendall had a tough 2018. He slashed .215/.300/.356/.656 with only 12 homers and 158 strike outs. He has amazing tools but the lack of hitting results is troubling. Trading him now would also be selling low.
Yadier Alvarez – RHP (10)
They spent a lot of money on him in 2015 and they probably wish they’d spent it elsewhere. He’s had some troubles on and off the field and struggles to throw strikes. He’s clearly a future bullpen piece but has little trade value.
Diego Cartaya – C (11)
The Dodgers just signed him as the top international prospect. He just turned 17 and I think he’s on the “do not trade” list for now.
Edwin Rios – 1B/3B (13)
Rios had a late start in 2018 but ended up having a strong AAA season. He seems to hit at all levels. Defensively, he might be able to play 1B at the Major League level. He’s also super slow as he is starting to sound like a DH. He’d be a good trade candidate to an American League team.
Tony Gonsolin – RHP (14)
Another right handed pitcher. He shifted from the bullpen to the rotation and excelled. He’s 24 and will start the season in AAA. He might be at his peak value as a trade chip.
Connor Wong – C (16)
Wong is another excellent catching prospect but can also play a good second base. He will start the season at AA and is a solid bet to be in the Major Leagues by 2020 or 2021. With all the other catching depth he, along with Smith, are possibly expendable.
The Dodgers have an abundance of excellent catchers and right handed pitchers in their farm system. Some of them would clearly be available as valuable trade chips. Players such as Verdugo or Lux would be available if they might be blocked. I’d hope they’d proceed with caution on those two because they might be excellent players in the future. There is plenty of talent and the Dodgers should be able land some good talent based on how much they are willing to let go. The way the Dodgers’ front office works we really don’t know who are on the “do not trade” list but, as always, there will be some surprises this off season.
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