With two days left before the non-waiver trade deadline, things are relatively quiet, at least in terms of the whispers surrounding the camp of the Dodgers. Things are so silent that there have been rumors surfacing which are downright silly, including Los Angeles being first in line should the Nationals decide to become sellers and trade away outfielder Bryce Harper.
I think there’s a good chance the Dodgers make a move, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they stick to their guns on the current roster. Yesterday, we discussed why this may happen, as there are numerous options in house to reinforce the club, especially when it comes to several conceivable upgrades in the bullpen.
Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of chatter as to which players are likely to be shipped out, if a trade does go down anytime soon. Of course, the departing players primarily depend on the needs of the opposing team, but as we have mentioned many times in the past, the Dodgers are loaded with outfielders throughout the system, and the front office probably lines at least one or two of these players up at the front of almost any prospective deal.
I mentioned Alex Verdugo quite a few times this year, mainly because he was seemingly blocked as he continued to dominate at the Triple-A level. However, he did get a few looks recently when teammate Yasiel Puig was on the shelf with oblique problems and he did impress during his short stay in the bigs. Despite his fine performance, Verdugo was optioned back to Oklahoma City as soon as Puig was healthy enough to rejoin the club.
All this leads to some thinking, and it makes many fans wonder who has the highest trade value between Verdugo, Puig and Joc Pederson. The 26-year-old Pederson has cemented himself on the Los Angeles 25-man roster, as he is often featured against right-handed pitching at the top of the batting order. Deservedly so, Puig is the regular right fielder, which leaves Verdugo hanging out at OKC, despite the 22-year-old perhaps having the highest ceiling of the entire trio.
Throw in Matt Kemp, alongside outfield floaters like Enrique Hernandez, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, and it doesn’t leave much room for somebody like Verdugo to climb the organizational ladder. Aside from Kemp and Puig, who are likely to remain with the club through at least 2019, many of these players also have multiple years of team control, which pushes Verdugo back even more. And with Andrew Toles continuously impressing at Oklahoma City, one is led to believe that somebody is bound to be dealt soon, should a trade target appear attractive to the Dodgers over the coming days.
Which player would rival clubs desire more? Puig, the rare five-tool breed, likely has the better skills of all three players, although he has never used them consistently over the course of an entire year, aside from maybe his rookie campaign in 2013. Pederson, on the contrary, has finally found a bit of consistency this year, despite the fact that his quickness on the basepaths continues to decline and he’s still believed to have difficulties hitting southpaw pitching. Verdugo is right up there with Puig as far as tools go, aside from the ability to hit for power, although he has recently shown his potential muscle, most specifically in his long ball to dead-center against the Braves on Friday evening.
Some may think that Verdugo would be in higher demand because of his age and the number of years he’d be under team control. Puig can theoretically become a free agent after his 2019 campaign, while the earliest that Pederson will be able to test the market is 2021.
It would be interesting to know exactly how the management group of the Dodgers envisions the future of the club and which players they believe will be parts of the central core, especially with guys like Verdugo and Toles appearing to be blocked on several different levels.
All that being said, if the Dodgers do indeed make a big splash over the next two days, or even if they wait until August when the waiver deals go down, fans may get a quick peek at those future plans. Yet, at the same time, if there isn’t anybody intriguing enough to make Los Angeles pull the trigger, we may see the club continue to hoard its best prospects and continue to build one of the best young farm systems in baseball.