On a daily basis, relievers seem to be being dealt left and right by clubs across both leagues. The supply appears to be almost unlimited, as bullpen pieces account for roughly 1/3 of all major league roster spots, along with the fact that new clubs are joining the seller list with each passing game. Yet, as all these trades continue to be orchestrated, the Dodgers are still relatively quiet. Some believe that they will indeed make one or more upgrades to the bullpen soon, while others feel they actually have enough options in-house to get the job done in the postseason.
The bigger question could be whether or not Los Angeles can land an arm which doesn’t push the club’s payroll over top of the luxury tax threshold. If they do find a suitable reliever—and if they can the salary of a veteran player back with an acquisition, if need be—will the new addition actually be better than some of the options the Dodgers have in the organization right now?
Skipper Dave Roberts, and perhaps the entire management crew of the Dodgers, apparently have pondered that same question. With a handful of players nearing the point of returning from the disabled list, there’s a good possibility that the team can improve without dealing away some of its prized prospects on the farm.
“With what we have, to go outside to do something just to do something, it’s got to really make sense,” Roberts said on Friday. “Because there’s a lot of good arms that we have, that we know that we trust internally.”
Hard-throwing righty Pedro Baez was activated earlier in the week, and another pair of relievers, right-hander Josh Fields and lefty Tony Cingrani, are believed to be not too far behind. Both Fields and Cingrani contributed meaningful innings during last season’s playoff run.
Furthermore, left-handers Julio Urias and Hyun-Jin Ryu are very close to beginning their respective rehabilitation assignments, which may conceivably put them in positions to return to the big league club at some point in the future, even if it’s when rosters expand in early September.
Urias does indeed have some relief experience under his belt, and Roberts believes it could be the perfect opportunity to re-acclimate the youngster into the bigs.
“To get him back in a short stint, that’s something that we feel comfortable we can bet on,” Roberts explained. “We don’t know until we see it. But I think that we’re all excited for this.”
What’s more, Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda have already proven they can be effective out of the bullpen. In addition, Walker Buehler, who has not been the same since returning from a rib microfracture, may also be an option, especially when the team scales back to four starting pitchers when the NLDS commences, should the club clinch a playoff berth.
So, while the fan base insists that more additions are mandatory to succeed down the stretch, there are many choices internally to restructure a relief corps that has already been relatively successful all season. And while there are still plenty of arms available in the trade market for the taking, careful considerations will be made by management to determine if a new addition will indeed be a greater improvement over an arm already in the system.
With three days remaining before the non-waiver deadline, everyone will find out soon enough.