With the non-waiver trade deadline now circling around the six-week mark, it’s probably not too early to talk about some potential deals in which the Dodgers could be interested. Several weeks back, Manny Machado was certainly atop the wish-list of many fans, but while the asking price for Machado will likely be a bit too salty for the Los Angeles front office crew, there are definitely several more under-the-radar type players who could be a better fit.
Pitching upgrades will surely be the targets of the Dodgers—both starting pitchers and relievers. As we all know from years past, and especially this year, there are never too many starting pitching options. Even if five or six quality rotation arms are healthy all at once and guys like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Urias prove to be ready for the stretch-run, there’s always the option of bumping one or two back to the bullpen, as made evident by the relief success of guys like Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood in previous years.
And, realistically, the Los Angeles offense will only be able to shoulder the load for so long, so quality pitching depth down the stretch will be paramount to the club’s success.
I put together a short list of five players who could be suitable fits for the Dodgers in the second half of 2018. These names are not linked to any credible rumors, but rather are educated guesses for many of the trade candidates which the Dodgers’ execs may be calling about over the coming weeks.
Chris Archer—Seemingly, the Dodgers are linked to Chris Archer almost every summer, but this could finally be the year the Rays decide to part ways with the righty, especially if they are realistic in their asking price. He’s still under team control through 2021, which may be attractive to the Dodgers’ front office, but in the same breath, it may be the biggest factor that keeps his cost out of reach. While it appears that the effectiveness of the 29-year-old has been fading with each passing season, there’s no question he’s a legitimate top-of-the-rotation arm, and a change of scenery to a club with playoff aspirations could provide the adrenaline to boost his performance.
Cole Hamels—The Dodgers just saw Cole Hamels on Wednesday night, and while many fans weren’t overly impressed with the four-time All-Star’s outing, the lefty does indeed have something to offer a rotation looking to solidify a spot in the playoffs. His postseason experience speaks for itself—two years with the Rangers and four with the Phillies, including NLCS and World Series MVP honors. What’s more, his leadership qualities both on and off the field may fit in well inside the Dodger clubhouse. The fact that the lefty has a $20 million club option for 2019 makes many pundits believe the under-performing Rangers may want to cash in on a return instead of watching the 34-year-old drift into the sunset. As it may seem like a tall task for the Dodgers to absorb his second-half salary while staying under the luxury tax threshold, it could be done with some strategic maneuvering.
J.A. Happ—It’s hard to believe that J.A. Happ has been around the big leagues for 12 full seasons. Even after all this time, the 35-year-old may have some quality innings left in his arm, but more importantly, his asking price will definitely be more reasonable that any of the two previously mentioned pitchers. And it was just two seasons ago that the lefty posted an impressive 20-4 record with a 3.18 ERA. Happ is slated to enter free agency this winter which may be the main reason the Blue Jays will deal him before the non-waiver deadline passes. One of our special guest writers, Jon Robles, mentioned Happ as a conceivable target for the Dodgers a few weeks back.
Zach Britton—Southpaw Zach Britton was high on the list of many teams last summer, but it was his susceptibility to injuries that prevented anybody from pulling the trigger on the reliever. However, fresh off surgery on his Achilles tendon over the winter, Britton finally made his 2018 debut last Tuesday and appears to be as fresh as ever. Like Happ, Britton is signed only through this year, which could persuade Baltimore to shop him around. If the asking price is reasonable and he throws impressively over the next several weeks, he could fit in well as a setup option for the Dodgers, especially if fellow lefty Tony Cingrani continues to be affected by injury problems.
Kelvin Herrera—Kelvin Herrera emerged as a premiere closer back in 2016 and his numbers seem to get better as he ages. So far this season, the righty has made 27 appearances and has posted a microscopic 1.05 ERA with 14 saves in the process. Similar to Happ and Britton, the 28-year-old Herrera is set to become a free agent this winter, but he very well may be the best closer who’s on the trade market this summer.
In addition to offering up a few more ideas for outside players who could be potential fits for the team this fall, please be sure to check back frequently over the coming weeks as we’ll try our best to stay on top of all the trade rumors linked to the Dodgers.