If there’s one thing that can be said about the management crew of the Dodgers during the weeks leading up to the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline, it would be the fact that there are zero clues being left behind as to what intentions the club has in terms of upgrading the team. Outside of a few minor league additions in Luke Farrell and Luis Ysla — all in exchange for cash — the front office is seemingly flying under the radar in trade talks, or at least that’s what most fans think.
Entering the weekend, several reports indicated that the Dodgers were major players for one of the big three starting pitchers who were available — Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray or Justin Verlander. However, into Saturday afternoon, signs showed that the club was hesitant to deal any of its top prospects, and were considered by those in the know to be merely “bargain hunting.”
According to some, the Dodgers’ interest in Darvish was fading, primarily because the Rangers wanted a hefty return for a mere rental of a few months. And the pursuit of Verlander apparently came to a screeching halt when the team did the math to figure out that the veteran righty’s salary would catapult the club’s payroll into another bracket of higher taxes and possibly even lower draft picks. Furthermore, heading into Sunday afternoon, many experts believe that a trade between the Athletics and Yankees involving Gray and several other players is imminent.
In a more logical analysis, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times relayed on Saturday that the Dodgers may be prioritizing an upgrade to the bullpen over an addition to the starting rotation, calling it a “fluid situation.” Acquiring a reliever makes a ton of sense for Los Angeles, especially an arm of the left-handed variety.
Southpaw Adam Liberatore, who was recently moved to the 60-day disabled list, is seemingly gone for the year as his forearm strain doesn’t appear to be improving. Lefty Grant Dayton was put back on the shelf on Friday after his neck stiffened up again, giving many the impression that he’ll have a tough time slotting back into the big league relief corps for the stretch run of the season. Right now, the two left-handed relievers manning the ship for the Dodgers are Luis Avilan and the newly promoted Edward Paredes, leaving many fans wondering if there’s enough talent in one or both to be effective southpaw options as the squad prepares for the playoffs. This line of hypothetical thinking almost always leads back to a trade with the Orioles for Zach Britton, despite the risks coming along with his potentially suspect forearm.
Yet if one takes into consideration the injury histories of Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and most recently staff ace Clayton Kershaw, coupled with Kenta Maeda‘s propensity to run out of gas in the playoffs, one would think that an upgrade to bolster the starting rotation would be paramount, at least to create some sort of safety net in the event of another injury epidemic. On the contrary, because other clubs are well aware of the plentifully stocked farm system of the Dodgers, the prices in acquiring a top-of-the-line starter could be overwhelmingly expensive, prompting the management crew to make an extremely difficult decision or two.
It’s almost impossible to say if an upgrade or two is absolutely necessary for the Dodgers to have a successful postseason, or if the club has the fortitude and superior chemistry to guide them with the roster it has right now. Nevertheless, we’re currently inside the 24-hour mark of the trade deadline, and the next day should provide quite a few answers in terms of the team’s direction.
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