Now that most of the smoke has cleared around Tuesday’s Manny Machado deal, the front office crew of the Dodgers is likely considering its next roster move, as the non-waiver trade deadline is now inside the two-week window.
I happen to like the Machado trade very much, as I think it’s beneficial to both sides. Although I never saw him play in person, I was always a big fan of Yusniel Diaz, primarily for the possession of multiple tools and an extremely high ceiling. And I happened to develop an affinity for Zach Pop over the last few weeks, mainly because he could touch triple digits with his heater, plus the fact that his ERA was a ridiculous 0.33 during his time at Rancho this year. But sacrifices are needed to land the biggest hauls, and Los Angeles certainly scored a gem in Machado, even if it’s only for the duration of the 2018 campaign. And, perhaps more significantly, as Andy pointed out in her story yesterday, Andrew Friedman and his crew seemingly went against their previously practiced philosophies of hoarding prospects and not making huge splashes, which indicates they could make more moves to improve the club’s chances in the postseason.
Diaz was a Top 10 prospect on the Los Angeles farm, but the other three youngsters were right around the fringe of the Top 30. And Breyvic Valera is certainly major-league ready, having the ability to immediately slot into the Baltimore infield scheme. So, although the Dodgers didn’t really lose too much in terms of their elite talent on the farm, they did surrender a few quality arms in Pop and Dean Kremer, which was surprising after considering how much the organizational pitching talent has thinned out in recent years.
Despite everything, in terms of the talent remaining on the farm, there is certainly a ton. What’s more, the minor league outfield is loaded, as four of the Top 15 prospects—Alex Verdugo, DJ Peters, Jeren Kendall and Starling Heredia—consist of another group which is loaded with tools. In addition to the outfield crew, the stock of catchers the Dodgers have on the farm—Kyle farmer, Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz and Connor Wong—is far and away the best in baseball. Consequently, with all the talent that’s still available, Los Angeles is in a position to make a huge splash with a prospective bullpen addition, so long as they can strategically remain beneath the luxury tax threshold.
Verdugo is interesting in the sense that he’s been one of the most sought-after trade acquisitions by rival clubs over the past few seasons. With Yasiel Puig on the shelf dealing with oblique problems, many thought Verdugo would get the big league promotion; however, it was Andrew Toles who ultimately got the nod. With that in mind, the number of outfielders blocking Verdugo from making a home in the bigs is quite lengthy. There’s Toles, Puig (when healthy), Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger (conceivably, with the arrival of Machado), along with part-timers Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez. And nobody’s really going anywhere anytime soon, with the exception of maybe Kemp and Puig, who can theoretically become free agents at the end of the 2019 season.
That being said, Verdugo could be at the top of the expenditure list, as some pundits actually believe he has a higher value than Pederson. Or, in theory, it could even be Toles possibly packaged up with one of the aforementioned catching prospects. Regardless, there seems to be no limits on more roster acquisitions, so long as management can keep the payroll beneath the threshold. Even so, although it’s somewhat unlikely, the front office crew may be able to find a way to get creative and convince another club to assume one of the Dodgers’ lofty veteran-player contracts.
And while many fans seem very content with the landscape of the team after scoring Machado, pitching is the name of the game right now, and whether or not the Dodgers add one or two legitimate arms to the pitching staff could hypothetically dictate how long the remainder of the season lasts.