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.