Which Prospects Would Dodgers Sacrifice for an Elite Pitcher?



With the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline now only a few weeks away, pundits around the league are still only speculating about any potential moves from the Dodgers, as the club’s front office continues to appear relatively calm, despite the team’s obvious need for one or more roster upgrades.

There have been daily rumblings surrounding Baltimore’s Manny Machado. Some outlets have the Dodgers among the favorites to land the 26-year-old shortstop; however, the principles of these hypothetical deals seem to vary depending on the source. Some publications had the Orioles turning down a potential deal involving outfielder Alex Verdugo and flamethrower Yadier Alvarez, while other sources just days later stated the Verdugo/Alvarez proposal never existed. Regardless, while the addition of Machado would certainly be nice, one would think that the front office crew would save its most valuable trade chips to upgrade a rickety bullpen or perhaps even a mediocre starting rotation.

Several weeks back, there were whispers of the Dodgers contacting the Mets about their ace Jacob deGrom, but some reports indicated that New York wanted a package headlined by righty Walker Buehler in return, which Los Angeles apparently nixed. Thinking along those lines, if any potential deals involve a club that’s in search of a few starting pitching prospects, the Dodgers may have a hard time putting together a competitive package. Of course, there are guys like Mitchell White, Dennis Santana, Dustin May and Caleb Ferguson. But, unlike previous years, this list is much thinner.

In contrast, from a position player perspective, the Dodgers are loaded, especially when it comes to outfield talent. DJ Peters, Jeren Kendall and Yusniel Diaz and Verdugo are at the top of the prospect rankings, while catchers Keibert Ruiz, Will Smith and Connor Wong continue to remain highly admired by rival teams. It’s tough to figure out exactly how much management values the catching talent, though, as 2019 will be a year which may feature a changing of the guard behind the dish, if the team decides not to pursue would-be free agent Yasmani Grandal.

And while fans are often putting together hypothetical packages for some of the top trade targets, it’s tough to guess what types of players the rival teams want in return. More times than not, it’s starting pitching that’s highest in demand, but that could vary depending on the team. Additionally, the most abundant riches of the Los Angeles farm may be on the lower levels, which really doesn’t benefit a club which may be eager to obtain a few players that are major league ready.

The general feel amongst the fan base is that the Dodgers need several upgrades to make a legitimate playoff run, but it’s really difficult to guess which direction the front office ultimately goes. The current state of the Los Angeles bullpen, which may be the team’s weakest link, may force the front office to make a move soon. Yet, even with a completely healthy starting rotation, there may not be enough elite starting pitching to go deep into the postseason. 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. And, at this point in time, perhaps the largest task of management is determining which prospects should remain “untouchable,” if there are such players this year.

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 package of very valuable prospects to land somebody like Blake Treinen, deGrom or even Machado, or is it more prudent to stay relatively conservative and continue to build and construct the franchise for success over the long haul?

The next several weeks should provide all the answers to those questions, and much, much more.



5 thoughts on “Which Prospects Would Dodgers Sacrifice for an Elite Pitcher?

  1. Hmm, I don’t think the Dodgers need another “elite”-level starter at this point. Walker Buehler was looking pretty damn elite himself before that vicious 106-mph comebacker off Trevor Story’s bat ended up sidelining him eventually. That’s why the Mets have asked for him specifically in any potential offer from the Dodgers for Jacob deGrom and rightfully so. Ross Stripling is finally living up to his true potential this year and is actually among the MLB leaders in ERA for that matter. Hyun-Jin Ryu was literally our ACE earlier on before that untimely groin injury knocked him out of the rotation. Kenta Maeda is a legit No. 2 when properly motivated (like “threatening” to move him back to the pen for example, lol). Rich Hill is frontline starter material as long as he stays on top of his recent blister troubles (THANK MODERN SCIENCE for laser treatments, woo-hoo!). Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood look more like above-average “back-end” rotation options at this point. Real key here is which Julio Urias are they getting back once his year-long shoulder rehab’s completed? If he’s back to being the Urias that was flashing future frontline potential before the shoulder issue popped up and ended his season early last year, there’s your answer to that question Dennis. If he comes out looking like this year’s version of Wood or Kershaw, then he might be looking at a possible bullpen role down the stretch (which would be fine as well, come to think of it).

    I still say the Dodgers’ primary needs right now are an 8th-inning Kenley Jansen bridge as well as a downwright upgrade at the starting C position both offensively AND defensively. However, if they feel like you do in terms of getting one more frontline-caliber arm for the rotation then the pitching prospects I’d hold onto would almost surely be Caleb Ferguson, Julio Urias, and Walker Buehler. The others you’ve already mentioned (might as well add Tony Gonsolin and Dean Kremer to that list, though Kremer might honestly become off-limits if he keeps trending up at his current pace now that he’s finally made it to AA Tulsa earlier this week) can easily be had for the right price. White might actually have more value as a potential late-inning reliever if his stuff keeps fluctuating in quality in a starting role like it has for him so far this season.


    1. Glad you mentioned Kremer, Manuel. He’s looking really great, to the point that he may become a very valuable trade chip this month. We’ve heard May mentioned in the Machado scenario but Kremer is actually closer to the majors and might appeal to them even more. Or they might ask for both (not that I would trade both of them in a deal for a rental Machado). With regard to Urias, we won’t see what we really have until 2020. Pitchers coming back from shoulder surgery always need a full year to get back to themselves (Ryu, for example). Their first year back is always blah and people start wondering if they’re finished and then, at least with some of them, they come back with a roar in their second year back. I’m a big White fan but his trade value has gone way down. I still don’t think he’s right physically. Either that or his past physical problems have totally messed up his mechanics. Just not the same pitcher we saw in the past.
      We definitely have a glut of outfielders and I agree with Dennis that we should trade from that strength rather than pitching if we possibly can. Kendall has been a disappointment to me, I would trade Peters if the return was good enough (my apologies Manuel) and as mentioned previously, we really should trade one of Joc, Toles or Verdugo. I don’t see any way they all become permanent members of the same outfield. Trade one of them while their value is at its highest. Tighten your seatbelts guys. It’s gonna be a fun 3 weeks!


      1. Meh, I’d hold onto Peters no matter what if I was the Dodger front office (no need to apologize, Jeff). I don’t care what anybody says, that guy right there is Yasiel Puig’s future replacement in RF until further notice. Of course, if the Dodgers end up landing Bryce Harper this upcoming offseason then it probably wouldn’t matter by then if Peters sticks around or not. In terms of the glut of OFs this team currently has, Joc would be the first one I’d part with before anyone else. Having a semi-breakout campaign this year, has been more than solid defensively in CF as well as LF, and showing consistent power without the need to sell out the avg completely. What makes him trade bait to me compared to the likes of Verdugo and Toles is that unlike those two, Joc still has trouble figuring out lefties. Another key prospect Dodgers should hold on to (unless they finally decide to go all-in on Realmuto fairly soon) is C Will Smith. Right now, he’s on target for a promotion to AAA OKC before season’s end and I for one couldn’t be any happier for it. He’s really starting to drive the ball out more consistently this year while keeping his average up at a decent clip (something he had trouble with down at High-A Rancho last year). Keibert Ruiz is pretty much prime trade bait at this point by comparison, no doubt about that anymore…


      2. I’m not saying I necessarily want to trade Peters, but rather that I would for the right return. I understand that you want to keep him no matter what and we both agree that after next year Puig won’t be back. If we get Machado that probably puts CT3 back in the outfield which gives us yet another outfielder to find playing time for. Bellinger is not only our best first baseman but possibly our best centerfielder (at least he probably would be with more reps). No idea what the front office will do next year if they get Machado and somehow keep him, Seager returns in good shape, Muncy continues to hit (and if they don’t like him at second pushes Belli to the outfield). In my gut, I just don’t think Friedman wants to make Muncy his permanent second baseman (beyond 2018). No matter what, just too many outfielders. We desperately need relief pitching. Somewhere there’s an obvious fit for a trade or two or three. With regard to catching prospects, you favor Smith and I’m a Ruiz fan. Something I’m factoring in which you might not consider important is age. Smith is 23 while Ruiz is only 19 (20 this month). I think he may be the youngest guy in the league. Right now Smith is definitely outperforming him. Time will tell which of us was right. Of course, we might both be right or both be wrong. And now we’ve signed this hot-shot prospect catcher from Venezuela. What’s that expression? “An embarrassment of riches.” or maybe “you can never have too much of a good thing.”


      3. Age has nothing to do with it Jeff, Smith is the better all-around catcher compared to Ruiz. The only thing Ruiz “might” have over Smith is a slightly better hit tool as well as the ability to switch-hit, but outside of that Smith’s arm, glove, pop time (VERY important), and game-calling are just spectacular. On top of that, Smith can also play 3B in a pinch if need be and he’s looked almost as good at that spot while Ruiz projects to be a C only (unless he gets dealt to the AL where they have the DH option for him to exploit). I’ve been comparing how that Tulsa pitching staff has done with both catchers behind the plate this season and so far they’ve won way more games with Smith by comparison. Of course, there’s that highly-touted Cartaya kid they just signed out of Venezuela recently and he could project to be the next Salvador Perez in a few years if the scouting reports are worth anything so there’s that to consider. Nice problem to have in the meantime.

        That said, think we can all agree on here that our OF depth is at the point where the Dodgers could easily fill their bullpen needs by dealing from that part of their system. Personally speaking, Peters should still be off limits strictly for insurance purposes. I just have a strong feeling about that one in particular…


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