With less than two months remaining until MLB’s 2017 non-waiver trade deadline, we knew it would be only a matter of time before the Dodgers surfaced among clubs that are likely to show trading activity during the coming weeks. In Wednesday’s column, we made note of how several media outlets believe that Los Angeles will be aggressive on the pitching market, yet based on the squad’s recent propensity to fall into frequent offensive stupors, the management crew could be interested in seeking offensive help as well.
There’s certainly no shortage of potential on the existing 25-man roster, however, the team is loaded with names who haven’t quite lived up to lofty expectations. Outfielder Yasiel Puig has shown a few glimpses of hope by featuring a new, more compact swing, but his .233 average is much less than desired as far as overall production goes. The same can be said for Joc Pederson, who was hovering right around the Mendoza line before being sent to the shelf with a concussion.
Rookie Cody Bellinger has been tremendously beneficial in the power department with 12 long balls and 31 RBI, but his .242 average and 57 strikeouts suggest that he’s still learning the nuances of big league pitching. Many believe that Adrian Gonzalez‘s numbers will improve as the season progresses, but his age will probably prevent him from seeing another season of 30+ home runs and 100 RBI. And while catcher Yasmani Grandal is always good for more than 20 long balls per year, his career average of .241 certainly limits his overall offensive abilities.
Shortstop Corey Seager and third baseman Justin Turner are the two players who may be shouldering most of the load for the Dodgers at the dish in the near future, while anything that utility man Chris Taylor continues to contribute will be an added bonus. Although the club still ranks sixth overall in the NL in team batting, Los Angeles seemingly fell asleep in the batter’s box during Turner’s final days on the DL. In the four games leading up to the Reds’ series, the Dodgers scored a total of five runs. In three games before it’s 10-8 victory over Milwaukee on June 3, the team scored a total of three runs, suggesting the club has a tendency to drift into an offensive lull at any point in time. And it isn’t always against stellar pitching from their respective opponents. On some days, the Dodger bats have a tendency to make even a young Double-A farmhand look like a Cy Young candidate.
If the Dodgers do indeed decide to seek help with the lumber, there’s no question that any prospective move will require some serious roster restructuring. The club will need to make decisions on the shape of the core moving forward — whether it wants to retain the existing components or move in a new direction. In addition, the management crew will need to address other questions, like the organization’s willingness to sacrifice stellar defense in exchange for better production offensively.
As far as players from the outside who may interest the Dodgers, outfielder Ryan Braun‘s name seems to come up on a perennial basis. However, if the Brewers are still in the running for a divisional title in late July, it will be unlikely that they’ll shop the veteran, even if he does return from the DL completely healthy.
One player who could provide a boost on offense without missing a beat with the glove is Kansas City outfielder Lorenzo Cain. He owns a career .285/.337/.413 slash line, and has double-digit stolen base numbers in each of the past six seasons, suggesting he’d be a productive piece at the top of the lineup. Cain wouldn’t be anything more than a rental, though, as his contract runs through the remainder of the current campaign. Still, his $11 million yearly paycheck indicates a very economical price tag — a sum that the Dodgers could easily afford.
Looking at the short term, there’s no doubt that the return of Turner to the three-hole in the lineup will spark the Los Angeles offense to some degree, but the question that will linger through July is whether or not the entire squad has enough offensive firepower to produce a successful run through October.
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