(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
As frequently as we’ve mentioned the need for the Dodgers to net a quality, top-of-the-rotation arm this winter to compliment resident ace Clayton Kershaw in the starting rotation, the task is much easier discussed than accomplished. When the dust eventually settles in the spring, if prudent, the club may have to wait until the 2017-18 offseason to land somebody worth a hefty price tag.
Other teams across the league are very familiar with the Dodgers’ need for a front line starter, in addition to knowing that Los Angeles has one of the most plentifully stocked farm systems in baseball. Around the trade deadline last summer, we heard ridiculous demands from other teams in the attempts to land a prospective second ace, and as the winter of 2016-17 is dawning, the trade market could dictate even more absurd proposals.
It was never really known what exactly transpired in talks of conceivable trades for the likes of Chris Archer and Chris Sale last season, but from much of the chatter around the baseball blogosphere last July, most of the demands from the Rays and the White Sox began with two of the most coveted young players on the Dodgers’ roster — shortstop Corey Seager and pitcher Julio Urias.
While many teams have gotten the hint about Seager not being available, the outlandish demands from other teams are seemingly similar to those of years past. One baseball blogger in the Great Lakes area, whose name will be protected for the sake of preserving his/her reputation, offered up Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander for a price tag of Urías, Jose De Leon, Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo. Yet, as laughable as it sounds for fans of the Dodgers, these are indeed the types of demands that will be made of the Los Angeles front office when it comes to inquiries regarding front line starting pitching.
That being said, it almost becomes paramount for the Dodgers to secure a deal with veteran lefty Rich Hill, who, when healthy, can easily fill a No. 3 or No. 4 slot in the Los Angeles rotation. In the end, a rotation consisting of an ace with four No. 4 starters is probably just a bit better than a staff with an ace and four rookies; and considering that this year’s free agent class is headlined by Hill, Ivan Nova, Jeremy Hellickson and Jorge De La Rosa, the offseason as a whole doesn’t provide the Dodgers with an overwhelming number of options.
The 2017-18 free agent class, however, will feature several better alternatives, unless the players’ current clubs reach a deal with the prospective free agents before the end of next season. Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Nathan Eovaldi and Tyler Chatwood lead the list with another handful of top-notch stars potentially being available depending on how player and club options play out next fall.
By that time, though, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Urías could be well on his way to being the true No.2 that many scouts believe he can be. So the questions facing the front office of the Dodgers right now are — Should the club deal a handful of the farm’s best prospects to land somebody like Verlander or Archer? Or, should the team wait for the emergence of a youngster like Urías or De León?
Management has been patient up until this moment, and has maintained its faith in the youth and the depth of the farm. Yet there’s always the possibility that many of these arms never truly reach their perceived expectations. This is the boiling point where the most critical roster decisions are made.
Win now or win later? In only a few short weeks, when the Hot Stove begins to get even warmer, we should have a much better idea which direction the Dodgers are heading in 2017.