The trade deadline is less than three weeks away and the Dodgers find themselves in a tough spot pitching wise. Starting pitching has been a huge problem for LA in 2023 and the struggles in the rotation have led to off and on issues trickling down into the bullpen. Things didn’t get any better following the latest Clayton Kershaw news either.
Industry expectations have the Dodgers as active buyers at the upcoming deadline. And, thankfully for president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and company, the farm system is as loaded as ever with blue chip talent that could land the club a superstar or two on August 1.
Let’s take a look at the top three guys that are most likely to be traded this summer.
1. Michael Busch
Yes, the Dodgers technically find themselves currently without a true second baseman on the active roster. But, in reality, Mookie Betts is the new second baseman for the club… they just don’t want to say it aloud. Busch is a second baseman but still seems to be an imperfect fit for this roster. He’s a left-handed batter. He’s not an exceptional defender anywhere on the field but he’s at least serviceable at the keystone. If the Dodgers were any other team, Busch would likely already have a full time role in the big leagues. But, for now, his talents are wasting away down at Triple-A.
He’s currently LA’s fourth-best prospect and 35th in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He’s a headliner in just about any deal for a superstar player at the deadline. And, he’s most likely the first name rival teams ask about — even before Diego Cartaya.
2. River Ryan
The Dodgers did what they do best when they acquired Ryan from the Padres at the end of spring training in 2022. They identified a diamond in the rough within another organization and turned him into a blue chipper. Perhaps the best example of the front office doing this at an elite level was at the end of 2018 when they sent Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer to the Reds in exchange then-unknowns Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray (plus Homer Bailey’s contract).
After a season in the Dodger farm system, both Downs and Gray became top-100 prospects in baseball and both were flipped in blockbuster deals down the road. Gray was part of the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner deal in 2021, and Downs was the top prospect sent to Boston for Mookie Betts.
River Ryan could very well be the next one of those types of prospects. He’s put together a fine season at Double-A this year (16 games (14 starts), 2.71 ERA) and has a 2.60 ERA overall in his two seasons in the Dodger system.
Teams will be asking about Ryan in any trade.
3. Emmet Sheehan
Admittedly, this is a tough one. The Dodgers are currently relying on the rookie in their starting rotation. But, there are at least two red flags for the club as we pass the midway point of July.
1. This Dodgers front office isn’t keen on turning to rookies in big spots in the playoffs (despite having done it plenty of times in the past).
2. He’s already thrown a career high in innings… and there are two and a half months of regular season left plus the playoffs. Conservatively, if he made 10 more starts at 5 innings per start over the next few months, that’s still another 50 innings which would mean he’d nearly double his career high in innings in one season. Then he’d be expected to pitch well beyond that in the playoffs.
As great as Sheehan has been, the Dodgers need a proven veteran ace, ideally with postseason experience, and they need him now. Looking at you, Lucas Giolito.
Also, let’s not forget the team traded Josiah Gray during a season where he was on again off again helping them in the big league starting rotation. A Sheehan trade isn’t super likely… but it’s not out of the question.
Diego Cartaya is noticeably absent from this list because he’s in the middle of a down year at Double-A. He’s still the club’s top prospect and 20th overall in baseball, but the Dodgers aren’t going to sell low on the future star backstop.
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