The MLB Trade Deadline is almost here. In less than two weeks, the Dodgers roster should look much different than it does now, with multiple additions joining the push for the postseason.
The Dodgers have a few needs they’ll need to address this deadline, but at this point, none seem bigger than starting pitching.
All five starting pitchers from the team’s Opening Day rotation have spent extended time on the injured list this season, and that doesn’t even include Tony Gonsolin who missed the first month and Ryan Pepiot and Walker Buehler who are yet to play this season.
The Dodgers are currently relying on three rookies — Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan and Michael Grove — which won’t be ideal come postseason time. And with Julio Urias’ struggles and the uncertainty surrounding Clayton Kershaw’s shoulder, there’s really no sure thing in the rotation right now.
So, the Dodgers will surely be in the market for a starting pitcher over the next 10 days, and in this article, I’m going to list three options, separated in three different tiers.
The Obvious Target
Every MLB insider and their mother have linked Giolito to the Dodgers this trade deadline, and for good reason. He’s the top starting pitcher who feels like a lock to be traded, considering he’s a free agent at the end of this year and the White Sox are already out of the playoff race.
Giolito is from Los Angeles, went to Harvard-Westlake High School and grew up rooting for the Dodgers, so the non-baseball fits are obviously there.
On the mound, though, Giolito was an All-Star in 2019, and finished top-11 in AL Cy Young voting three times.
This year, Giolito has had an up and down year, and got rocked in his most recent start, raising his ERA to 3.96. However, he has a great 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings and an impressive 3.13 strikeout to walk ratio, and would definitely benefit from playing for a contending team.
Giolito isn’t exactly an ace, but he would be a solid No. 2 in the rotation, and would be trusted to make a postseason start. And for what it’s worth, LA is currently considered the co-favorite to land him this deadline.
The Sleeper Target
Like Giolito, Flaherty is from Los Angeles and went to Harvard-Westlake High School. While he hasn’t made an All-Star team in his career, he finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2019 after sporting a 2.75 ERA in 33 starts.
Since then, Flaherty has had an up and down career, and has struggled with some injuries. However, he’s been healthy this season, and has been pitching much better after struggling early in the year.
After seeing his ERA ballon to 6.29 in early May, he’s brought it all the way down to 4.39 after his most recent start on Friday against the Cubs where he allowed four earned runs across six innings of work.
Flaherty is also a free agent at the end of the year, so if the Cardinals decide to sell, he — along with many other players — would be a perfect trade target for LA. He would also come cheaper than Giolito, which could entice the Dodgers.
Flaherty is actually my top choice, as I would love LA to get a package of him and some other Cardinals to solidify multiple needs.
The Unlikely Target
Finally, let’s get to the best pitcher on this list who’s an unlikely candidate for multiple reasons. First, we still have no idea if the Padres are going to decide to trade the upcoming free agent who’s pitching like a Cy Young favorite right now. And second, if the Padres do decide to sell off some pieces, we don’t know if they’d consider trading with their NL West rival Dodgers.
However, if Snell becomes available, he would be the best starting pitcher on the trade market — and LA has to at least try to get involved.
After struggling early in the year, Snell has been lights out as of late. He won the NL Pitcher of the Month Award in June, and has lowered his ERA all the way down to 2.67 after allowing one run in five innings on Thursday.
The Dodgers are more familiar with Snell than anyone on this list, and he’s dominated them in his career. In 11 regular season starts, Snell has a 2.61 ERA against LA with 66 strikeouts in 51.2 innings.
And, of course, Snell was notoriously on the mound against LA in the 2020 World Series, where he was taken out way too early in the Dodgers’ eventual Game 6, World Series clinching win.
Again, it seems very unlikely that Snell gets traded to LA, but at this point, the Dodgers (and Padres) have to keep all options open. If Snell is available for LA, the Dodgers would be adding a Cy Young candidate who could potentially start a Game 1 in the postseason.
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