Higher Trade Deadline Priority: A Starting Pitcher, a Reliever, or a Shortstop?

manny-machado (1)
(CBS Sports photo)

Up until yesterday, there really hasn’t been much chatter linking the Dodgers to any prospective blockbuster trades with rival clubs anytime soon. Sure, there have been a few whispers about a bullpen upgrade or two, but for the most part, the juicy, eye-opening rumors have been non-existent. However, after Bob Nightengale of the USA Today published a story stating that the Dodgers are the favorites to land Baltimore shortstop Manny Machado, quite the stir began to circulate among Los Angeles fans everywhere.

While it would certainly be nice to acquire Machado for the right price, there may be other roster needs that management sees as higher priorities. Personally, I think the bullpen needs some work before it can be considered playoff worthy, and in the same breath, while I believe the current crew of starting pitchers is good enough to cruise to the postseason, it may not be effective enough to secure a World Championship. Ultimately, I feel the offense is good enough to succeed without Machado, and if the Dodgers are willing to sacrifice several of the organization’s top prospects to upgrade the roster, it might as well be on the pitching front.

The Mets have openly stated that they’re willing to consider dealing Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard; however, previous assumptions revealed that New York would likely begin their conversation by asking for young righty Walker Buehler, who may very well be untouchable in the eyes of the Los Angeles front office. But, while there may indeed be a handful of top prospects who are expendable—most specifically a small group of outfielders—I think it’s important to note that there is a huge difference between expendability and value. Just because the Dodgers are very deep at one particular position doesn’t mean they’ll ship an outfielder out for a mediocre reliever—the management team will certainly make sure the return on a prospective deal conceivably exceeds the price it pays.

Then there’s the issue of remaining under the luxury tax threshold, which could limit the team’s pursuit of a player with a high-end contract. There’s always the chance the Dodgers could deal away somebody to create the money needed to absorb a higher salary, but generally, the teams who are looking to deal are attempting to shrink their own payrolls, not increase them. At the end of the day, should the Dodgers falls short of another World Championship, 2018 could forever be remember as the year the team finally avoided the luxury tax and reset its payroll structure.

In previous seasons, the Dodgers had somewhat of a surplus of starting pitchers to deal, but with the exodus of guys like Trevor Oaks, Chase De Jong, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton, there isn’t much excess, especially when considering a few of the farmhands they’ve used in the bigs this year. And while it’s very easy for the average fan to create a hypothetical package which will land somebody like deGrom or Machado, it’s important to remember that rival clubs are likely to begin their negotiations with names like Buehler or Bellinger—and not players like Verdugo or Ruiz.

Last year, we saw a few very thrifty deals which brought in Yu Darvish, Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani. And most importantly, those deals didn’t break the back of an otherwise plentiful farm system. Regardless, as good as those trades were on paper, they really didn’t give the Dodgers enough firepower to seal the deal in the World Series.

In the end, whether Los Angeles is indeed the favorite to land Machado or not, one thing’s for certain—there certainly will be some kind of upgrade(s) made before the summer trade deadlines pass. And whether it’s the acquisition of a slugger capable of hitting 35-plus long balls per season or a Cy Young caliber pitcher, it may be the difference between the club being viewed as an offensive “wrecking ball” or a squad that’s considered a well-balanced, functioning machine.

Stay tuned.


23 thoughts on “Higher Trade Deadline Priority: A Starting Pitcher, a Reliever, or a Shortstop?

  1. As Manuel and I were discussing on a previous post, Machado really seems like a luxury at this point rather than a necessity. In my mind, the primary need is a couple of very strong relievers. If I’m Friedman I take care of that first and see what it has cost me in prospects. Then I can investigate a Machado deal, although I really think someone else will offer more for him. And, of course, now that the Mets are listening on deGrom, we need to see what that would cost, but I would still first lock up my bullpen. I would rather have deGrom than Machado but that would cost quite a bit more because of the extra contract years left. But first, get me those relievers, preferably at least one of them with some years of control remaining.


      1. Very interesting. Would have thought Fergie would follow CK. I wonder if that means they plan to start Caleb in the next few days, or if this means he heads back to OKC?


      2. Maybe the team is trying to save travel dollars by foregoing mnor league rehab starts and letting the players get clobbered at the big league level before they’re actually ready.


      3. Actually I think they flew Buehler in from OKC this morning, so they not only didn’t save on travel but they played this one as though it was a spring training game. Absolutely no way that he should have been sent out for that second inning. They were killing everything he threw at them. The absolute height of arrogance to feel that a rehab start is more important than a win. Too bad they didn’t use Ferguson like we originally thought they would. He had another two scoreless innings.


      4. I think Maddon hacked the earpiece and he was the one giving the instructions. Our guys better find a way to score without hitting homers or we’re in for a very short playoff run. I don’t have any stats, so someone might show me I’m nuts, but I’m guessing that relatively few of our June home runs have been hit off of playoff-caliber pitchers.


      5. Turns out your favorite reliever Kasowski and Zach Pop are currently roommates and have been friends since they were locker buddies at Great Lakes. Story coming Saturday.


  2. If the Dodger front office plays its cards right, they should at least come away at the trade deadline with that key 8th inning arm they so desperately need to fill the void left by Morrow last year. Should they manage to pull that off while shedding Grandal and Forsythe’s contracts in the process, even better for them. You already know what I think of a potential Machado deal so no need rehashing that on here (lol). Besides, Angelos waited too damn long to flip him for a king’s ransom this past offseason and now runs the risk of having to settle for less like what the Rays’ front office did with David Price a few years back.

    Like I said before, if the Dodgers want to upgrade their lineup further I’d seriously start with the C position because with 2B now plugged up for the time being (thanks largely to Max Muncy’s emergence this season) that’s the only one left that has been lacking consistent production of late. Sooner Friedman gets on the phone with the Marlins GM inquiring what it would truly take to land disgruntled backstop JT Realmuto, the sooner they can start outlining a potential deal that could work out for both sides. Most ideal scenario would have him packaged with their current closer Kyle Barraclough so that both main priorities get addressed for the Dodgers in full moving forward.

    As for going after another starting pitcher, forget it. Dodgers are gonna get at least two more of their regulars back by the end of the season and there won’t be any more spots svailable when that time finally comes. Much as I like deGrom, Mets are better off extending him as well as keeping the rest of their “core four” intact (Syndergaard, Matz, and Wheeler). One guy that MIGHT pique my interest is Ian Kennedy of the Royals and that’s only because of his track record against the defending WS champion Astros, which is pretty good. Otherwise, I’d stick to addressing the bullpen and C position in the meantime…


      1. Dennis, a WS is not solely won by the starting staff anymore. Look what happened last year, the team that had the least-taxed bullpen was the one that ended up winning it all. As for the Dodgers, they only need a healthy starting rotation to get them to the postseason. After that, just a matter of fine-tuning that bullpen so it doesn’t get burned out again and cost them another crack at a WS title (thoughts of Game 5 still echo fresh in my mind, ugh). Not really much of a market out there for starting pitching this season, especially the frontline arms. Those I consider luxuries as well. Different game being played right now with stamina-challenged starters being piggybacked more often and the advent of “openers” to throw opposing lineups off their gameplans. Gotta get more creative than ever and that’s one thing this Dodger ballclub seems to have compared to most right now…


      2. Sonny Gray??? I think the Yankees are kind of regretting making that deal to acquire him already, lol. He wouldn’t have been the answer, either. It’s a bullpen-dominated league right now, buddy. Better get used to that fact.


  3. Somebody is going to get machado. If you look at the Martinez trade from last season, the d-backs gave up the 13th ranked player from their system, and two guys not in their top 30,all infielders. Now I think manny could get a little more than that, but those are the type of players I would be willing to see moved for a rental player like manny. I don’t think the orioles are going to get the haul they want, the play off race is not as wide open as last year, hence, less teams interested.
    I hate to piggy back on you guys but, we seam to all agree about the bull pen needing an upgrade.
    My final thought is concerning deGrom, and Syndergaard, I would not trade Buehler, but just about anybody else, in our minor system, would be in play. The front office doesn’t have a crystal ball, but if we would have made the trade for Verlander instead of Darvish, I think we win the series. I’m not saying I told you so, because I was worried Verlander would break down before his contract was up, but I think it shows how one guy can put a team over the top. The one thing that pisses me off is the front office didn’t make that deal because they were worried about getting under that stupid damn luxury tax for this year. So now the way I see it is the luxury tax cost us a championship. So I hope they don’t decide to get a bullpen piece or two, and call it good. I’ll admit after the Miami series I was pretty down on the team, but they have really been on a good run. How often do you get a chance to win a world championship?


    1. For the Dodgers in 2018, there is no tomorrow
      because there were too cheap to pay Brandon Morrow !
      (aka: luxury tax)


  4. Bullpen stuff- The “Big K” had another 1.2 scoreless innings at Rancho last night. Chargois seems to have found himself again at OKC and considering Goeddel’s last three outings we may see them change places shortly. Unfortunately Sborz and Broussard have not pitched well lately. Hopefully they’ll turn themselves around.


  5. Anyone know anything about Connor Joe? I seem to remember someone mentioning his name in a previous post. Apparently we signed him over the winter as a minor league free agent. His previous 3 years were very forgettable, but this year at Tulsa and now at OKC he’s absolutely killing it. Plays infield and outfield corners and has spent a couple of games at 2nd also. Assuming he could pass a random drug test, we probably need to keep an eye on him.


  6. How the heck does the front office do that, finds guys I’ve never heard of, and the next thing you know it looks like they’ve found another good ball player.


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