With the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline now only a handful of days away, pundits around the league are still just speculating about any potential moves from the Dodgers, as the club’s front office continues to appear relatively calm and quiet.
The most circulated rumors involve dealing for another starting pitcher, and have gained momentum since staff ace Clayton Kershaw was placed on the disabled list with problems in his lower back earlier in the week. The two most notable targets have been Yu Darvish of the Rangers and Sonny Gray of the Athletics; however, in the case of Darvish, Texas is seeking a very hefty return, most specifically mentioning outfielder Alex Verdugo plus one of either Walker Buehler or Yadier Alvarez.
Of course, it’s probably safe to say that a deal of that nature doesn’t happen when considering that Darvish would be nothing more than a mere rental down the stretch run of the season. Still, many fans are wondering just how far the management crew of the Dodgers are willing to go to bolster the starting rotation, or even add a quality arm or two to the bullpen.
Many folks familiar with the club often throw around the term “untouchable” when it comes to certain youngsters regarding trades; however, the number of these types of prospects has dwindled since superstars like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger graduated from the team’s prospects list. And Alvarez, for example, has typically been a member of the untouchable list for a few years, yet many believe this season may be the time the front office makes him the centerpiece of a deal for a prospective upgrade.
Considering that 2017 could be the organization’s best shot at a World Championship in years, I personally think the timing is right to make the necessary upgrades to put the team in a better position to win. Obviously, no trade should be made in haste, and no deal should be completed by giving away pieces that far outweigh the return — a task that’s often much easier said than done.
As far as my own list of untouchables goes, I only have two — Buehler and catcher Will Smith. I’d consider dealing anybody else if the return fit the needs of the club. Some folks have players like Alvarez and Verdugo on the top of their own respective lists, yet with the slight decline of Alvarez and the presence of a healthy Andrew Toles roaming the outfield next year, each gradually becomes a bit more expendable.
Even some of the younger players on the lower levels of the farm, chiefly staring pitchers like Jordan Sheffield, Dustin May, Dennis Santana and Mitchell White, have appeared on the untouchable list of a few “experts,” but these are the types of chips that may be needed to complete a package in order to net a top-of-the-line acquisition.
Other names like Willie Calhoun and Edwin Rios — players who reputedly lack superior defensive skills — headline the list of candidates who are more likely to be dealt than others, with the assumption that there’s a better chance for them to succeed offensively in the American League.
The general feel amongst the fan base, though, is that the Dodgers need something to make a playoff run, but it’s really difficult to guess which direction the front office ultimately 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. Yet even with a completely healthy Kershaw in the playoff rotation, would there be enough quality starting pitching to punch a ticket to the World Series?
In the back of some of our minds, it feels like the chances of succeeding in the playoffs are much lower without a significant upgrade to the current active roster. All the same, is it worth sacrificing a large group of very valuable prospects to land somebody like Darvish, Gray or even Justin Verlander, or is it more prudent to stay put and continue to build and construct the franchise for success over the long haul?
The next several days should provide all the answers to those questions, and much, much more.
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