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With the non-waiver trade deadline now only several days away, plenty of speculation is being circulated about the Dodgers‘ intentions to upgrade, despite the club’s front office remaining relatively calm and quiet.
About three weeks ago, many of the rumors floating around the baseball blogosphere hinted at the Dodgers wanting to add some type of offensive help. Yet as we’ve already discussed a number of times, the Los Angeles 25-man roster would require a bit of restructuring to add a proven power bat, even without outfielder Andre Ethier returning anytime soon. Besides, Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick have been on fire lately, and with the consistent numbers from Corey Seager and the steadiness of Adrian Gonzalez, the middle of the lineup as it stands now may be poised to produce down the stretch.
And for many who follow the squad closely, the bullpen seems like it should be the highest priority in terms of any potential upgrades. Sure, the statistics have been off the charts based on projected potential alone, but many of us have that feeling in the bottom of our stomachs that having Joe Blanton and Adam Liberatore as the main links to closer Kenley Jansen just isn’t quite good enough to contend in the postseason.
Instead, most of the chatter surrounding Los Angeles has been focused on quality starting pitching. With question marks surrounding a return by ace Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ current rotation has the feel of being constructed from a handful of run-of-the-mill, back-end starters.
Initial rumors whispered the Dodgers scouting pitchers like Rich Hill and Andrew Cashner, but several executives around the league believe that Andrew Friedman and his henchmen are aiming much higher. One reporter even related the phrase “big game hunting” to the current efforts of the Los Angeles front office.
The two names being mentioned the most at this juncture are Chris Sale and Chris Archer. Southpaw Jose Quintana‘s name has been mumbled in a few conversations, but it’s tough to believe that the White Sox will disintegrate their entire rotation.
Based on their contracts, it’s crazy to even think that Tampa Bay would want to deal Archer, or guess why Chicago would want to ship out Sale. Archer is currently signed through 2021 with an insane AAV of $4,250,000, while Sale’s present deal runs through 2019 with an AAV of $6,500,000 — two contracts for two superstars that most general managers only see in their dreams.
So after putting all of this into perspective, what would it actually take to haul in either Sale or Archer?
On Monday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post put together an article suggesting that the Dodgers would consider sacrificing their most valued prospect, Julio Urias, in a package to acquire Sale from Chicago. Sherman relays that while Kershaw’s out with a back injury that might necessitate season-ending surgery, the Dodgers could use an ace — a role that Sale could conceivably fill.
But the truth is, it would take much, much more than Urias alone. The brain trust here at TBPC put together a purely hypothetical package to acquire the Chicago lefty, which offered up Urias, starters Grant Holmes and Josh Sborz, along with infielder Willie Calhoun. Personally, my initial reaction was to balk, but after a few moments of reflection, I realized that the aforementioned proposal would certainly be on the lower level of what the White Sox would want in return. While money wouldn’t be an issue, losing up to a half dozen future stars could be a big blow to the farm.
The general feel amongst the fan base is that the Dodgers need something to make a playoff run, but it’s really hard to guess which direction the front office goes. If management has any type of indication as to the time frame of a possible Kershaw return, any prospective deal may hinge on such information.
In the back of some of our minds, it feels like the chances of succeeding in the playoffs are relatively slim if Kershaw is out for the remainder of the season. Is it worth sacrificing a large group of very valuable prospects to land Sale or Archer, or is it more prudent to stay put and continue to build and construct the franchise for success over the long haul?
Indeed, the next several days should provide all the answers to those questions, and much, much more.