If there’s one thing that can be said about the management crew of the Dodgers during the weeks leading up to the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline, it would be the fact that there are not many clues being left behind as to what intentions the club truly has in terms of upgrading the team. Several weeks ago, we heard about a possible interest in Mets’ ace Jacob deGrom, but that prospective deal was nixed when the New York brass requested young right-hander Walker Buehler in return. Next, the Manny Machado talks gained heavy momentum, as the Dodgers actually appeared as favorites to land the All-Star shortstop at one point. Finally, we heard whispers of the Los Angeles front office contacting the Marlins to prospectively gain the services of one of their young relievers.
It’s hard to tell exactly what management has in mind, and most specifically what their priorities are. We heard that the Orioles once asked for a package of righty pitcher Dustin May and young shortstop Gavin Lux, but we later learned that the Dodgers have since expanded their search for infield help. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the front office crew has widened their pursuit of a position player beyond Machado. Passan reported that Los Angeles representatives have had conversations with the Reds about Scooter Gennett, the Twins about Brian Dozier and even the Mets about Asdrubal Cabrera. Because of the versatility of players like Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Max Muncy, the Dodgers are necessarily locked into one particular position when it comes to a roster upgrade, providing them the flexibility to shop around even more.
At the beginning of the month, we heard that the Dodgers have had preliminary dialogues with the Marlins about some of Miami’s best relief pitchers. In particular, the list included Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley. And on Tuesday, Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors noted that Los Angeles has even been linked to 38-year-old Brad Ziegler. Todd indicates that the veteran righty has turned things around of late, having allowed just two earned runs on ten hits while recording a 19:3 K/BB ratio over 21 innings since June 1.
And, as we discuss the Dodgers acquiring multiple players from perhaps multiple teams, the question lingers of exactly how many prospects or players the club is willing to sacrifice in order to upgrade. We’ve already discussed that the Dodgers have an abundance of outfielders to conceivably barter, but if the rival club is seeking quality starting pitching in return, it may be tough for the front office crew to put together a desirable package. Furthermore, the Dodgers have one of the better farm systems in baseball (at least from a position player standpoint), and it’s tough to comprehend that management will deal away a slew of prospects to make a few upgrades, especially if those upgrades are rentals.
Then there’s the issue of remaining under the luxury tax threshold, which could limit the team’s pursuit of a player with a higher priced contract. There’s always the chance the Dodgers could deal away somebody to create the money needed to pay out a higher incoming salary; but generally, the teams who are looking to deal are attempting to shrink their own payrolls, not increase them. Everyone seems to be talking about Logan Forsythe in this scenario, but it’s tough to imagine the teams who are selling having an interest in paying out the remainder of the veteran infielder’s 2018 salary, even if the Dodgers send along a few attractive prospects.
My opinion is that while it would certainly be nice to bring in Machado, there are other roster needs that should be seen as higher priorities. Everyone agrees the bullpen needs some work before it can be considered playoff worthy. And, personally, I’ve already stated that while I believe the current cast 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.
It’s almost impossible to predict if an offensive upgrade is absolutely necessary for the Dodgers to have a successful postseason, or if one significant bullpen upgrade will be enough to push Los Angeles to the next level. Regardless, we’re currently inside the three-week mark before the deadline, and the next few weeks should provide some answers in terms of the team’s direction.
For now, though, the front office continues not to reveal their true hand in the least.