April 18, 2024

Dodgers trade deadline preview: LA needs pitching help. There are options. Could Shohei Ohtani be one?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are inevitable. Even during a season where they seem to have taken a step back so they could incorporate more youth into the lineup, the Dodgers are in first place as the August 1 trade deadline approaches. They seem more vulnerable now than they have been in the last 10 years or so, but they are still very good, and there is no doubt that they will buy at the deadline.

“The cloudy conditions around the league make it challenging to make a big impact on trades at this point. Most are taking a wait-and-see approach after the All-Star break and see where they are,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told the Orange Country Program recently. “… From our side, we’re going to assess what’s available and we’re going to pursue what’s available, and if things make sense we’ll do them, and if they don’t, we’re not.”

Despite those cloudy playoff situations and the still-inactive trade market, we soldiered on. Here’s what you need to know about the Dodgers heading into the 2023 MLB trade deadline.

Requirements

Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. A right-handed bat would be nice too, but, yeah, pitching is the No. 1 priority. 1. Both starters and relievers. Clayton Kershaw is out with a shoulder injury, Julio Urías isn’t having one of his typical Cy Young seasons, and youngsters like Michael Grove, Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan and Gavin Stone have concerns about consistency and workload. There would also be one more high-leverage relief. Also, injuries to Jake Marisnick and Trayce Thompson prove the need for a righty bat to complement an outfield that consists of three lefty hitters most days (Jason Heyward, James Outman, David Peralta).

Potential targets

The Dodgers have already expressed interest in Giolito, who grew up in Southern California and is a rental on a very bad White Sox team. When it comes to improving pitchers through pitch design and optimized pitching usage, the Dodgers are as good as it gets. So it wouldn’t be crazy to think they could help Giolito get back to that form he had during 2019-21, a period in which he received Cy Young votes every year. There’s no such thing as a perfect fit, but the Dodgers and Giolito certainly seem like a solid matchup.

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Grichuk has been one of the best left fielders of the last few years. Power is above average (and on base) offensive skills, but he crushed lefties, and Grichuk can play the three out spots competently. Moving figures for him to be the Rockies’ last-place priority at the deadline given his free agent status. In terms of role and cost (rental platoon bats don’t get big returns at the deadline), Grichuk checks a lot of boxes for the Dodgers.

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The overall numbers are more than impressive, but Hicks has been absolutely dominant since changing his position on the rubber and moving toward first base a few weeks ago. The Dodgers love relievers with high velocity sinkers (Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, etc.) and Hicks often goes over 100 mph with his. He has another rental and the Cardinals have admitted they are targeting 2024. Hicks will certainly be available at the deadline and will give Los Angeles another high-leverage reliever.

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You can imagine the Cardinals as a one-stop shop for Los Angeles. Bullpen help? It’s Hicks. Right bat? Maybe Tyler O’Neill or switch-hitter Dylan Carlson (who is much better against lefties) piques his interest. Starter? Well, Montgomery might be the best starter available at the deadline. Workhorse lefties are always in demand and Montgomery has a lot of experience in the market after his years with the Yankees. St. John’s won’t have much trouble. Louis to stimulate interest in Montgomery, who will be a free agent after the season. Expect a bidding war.

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For all intents and purposes, Robertson is the perfect modern reliever. He throws strikes, is more effective against lefties than righties (and is very good against righties), is flexible enough to step into any role (setup, closer, etc.), and is battle-tested in the postseason and in the bigs. The Phillies signed Robertson, now 38 and a free agent to be, at the deadline last year and was a key piece to their pennant-winning bullpen. Some team will trade for him at the deadline and be glad they did. Why not the Dodgers?

What about Ohtani?

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Of course the Dodgers will make a run at Shohei Ohtani if ​​the Angels make him available. They have the young talent to swing a trade too. Finding common ground on a trade package will not be the biggest obstacle. It will be Angels owner Arte Moreno. Would Moreno trade Ohtani, the game’s biggest star, to a team in the same media market? Moreno has been trying to get the Angels out of the Dodgers’ shadow since he bought the team in 2003. He may not be willing to trade Ohtani to the Dodgers even if it is the best and smartest move in baseball.

Trading chip

The Dodgers have two premium catching prospects in Diego Cartaya and Dalton Rushing, plus they have All-Star Will Smith at the big league level. Two years ago they used Keibert Ruiz to get Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the deadline. Would they use Cartaya or Rushing to make a similar impact trade at the deadline this year? I mean, why not? They’re there to win it (Kershaw, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman aren’t getting any younger) and the catcher is in a deep position.

Former first-round pick Michael Busch will turn 26 later this year and is redoing Triple-A. Busch appears to have fallen behind some others on the infield depth chart and could be used as a trade chip at the deadline. I think the Dodgers are at least open to discussing their young arms — it never hurts to listen — with Grove, Sheehan, and Stone much more likely to go than Miller. I’m sure the Dodgers will get calls about Single-A outfielder Josue De Paula, if they haven’t already. There is no young talent here. The Dodgers have to make pieces to swing a trade of any size.

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