Despite the unusually high number of player trades orchestrated by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers over the winter months, many of the deals, excluding the acquisition of Logan Forsythe, have been that of the low profile variety. Yet after continuing to add to the bottomless pit of talent on the Los Angeles farm, many fans are beginning to wonder if the management crew may be on the verge of cashing in on a potential blockbuster.
In the front office’s most recent barter, righty pitching prospect Chase De Jong was sent to the Mariners in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers in Drew Jackson and Aneurys Zabala. After the dust settled, there’s no question that the Dodgers won the deal, but it wasn’t really a trade of necessity like the Forsythe acquisition. As De Jong is considered to be MLB-ready by many standards, he was also in a situation where his big league debut was being blocked by players like Julio Urias, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart. And with that much talent ahead of De Jong, Friedman efficiently made a maneuver to maximize his capital and snag a couple of high-ceiling prospects in return. Besides, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto appeared to be eager to get his hands on De Jong for quite some time, and ultimately paid a fair price.
Diving deeper into the depths of the farm, though, talents like Yadier Alvarez, Walker Buehler, Josh Sborz and Mitchell White are seemingly on the fast track to the bigs, which could result in further clogs or blockages in the system sometime down the road. And that’s not even laying out any type of depth chart containing the riches of position players in the organization. In the greater scope of things, the amount of talent currently in the Dodgers’ system is indeed impressive.
That being said, in hopes of further improving the level of player talent, the amount of resources that Friedman and his troops have available to deal in the future is certainly plentiful. Many think that there aren’t many holes at all in the Dodgers’ current roster, yet depending on the stance of the club when the 2017 trade deadline approaches, a few needs may be visible when envisioning a complete squad heading into the 2017 postseason.
One name that seems to appear on the Dodgers’ radar almost every summer is Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer. Despite a 9-19 record and a 4.02 ERA last season, Archer’s talent level is still highly regarded by almost every front office in baseball. With a change of scenery and rediscovered enthusiasm, he’d surely slide into the club’s No. 2 slot in the starting rotation behind resident ace Clayton Kershaw and ahead of Rich Hill, creating a conceivable one-two-three punch that the squad sorely lacked against the Cubs in the NLCS last year.
Another imaginable upgrade could possibly come in the form of a proven bullpen piece. Yankees righty Dellin Betances comes to mind straight away, especially after the smoked cleared on the war of words between the reliever and the New York front office over the winter. After earning the league’s minimum salary for his first three seasons, Betances was hoping to get a 2017 payday somewhere in the $5 million range, but ultimately was awarded just $3 million at the end of the arbitration process.
“They take me in a room, and they trash me for about an hour and a half,” Betances said after the arbitration hearing. “I thought that was unfair for me. I feel like I’ve done a lot for this organization, especially in these last three years. I’ve taken the ball time after time. Whenever they needed me, I was there for them.”
In his own defense, Yankees’ president Randy Levine was almost comedic regarding the demands of Betances.
“It’s like me saying, ‘I’m not the president of the Yankees; I’m an astronaut,’” Levine quipped regarding Betances’ request for a larger payday. “No, I’m not an astronaut, and Dellin Betances is not a closer.”
From the tone of both statements, it appears as if both sides were very much displeased.
Regardless, as polished and complete as this Dodgers squad looks right now, just imagine the layout of the team with the addition of a player or two with the talent of Archer or Betances.
And while the next big splash by Friedman and Company may not arrive until the 2017 trade deadline in July, the preliminary plans for such a blockbuster may already be in place.