Many fans of the Dodgers seemed to have mixed feelings after the 2018 non-waiver deadline passed on Tuesday afternoon. Some folks believed that the offense became a potential juggernaut with the addition of infielder Brian Dozier, while others felt the team missed several beneficial opportunities by passing up numerous relievers which were eventually snatched up by rival clubs. Nevertheless, there’s still about a month remaining when clubs are able to make waiver trades, which gives Los Angeles an ample amount of time to sort out all of its internal resources.
Yesterday, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reported that general manager Farhan Zaidi believes the Dodgers won’t necessarily need to scour the waiver wire, despite not completely having ruled out the possibility of making a late-season roster addition. Zaidi thinks that there may be enough talent in the organization already to build a successful relief crew, a sentiment which we’ve been discussing for a few weeks now.
“We were hoping to add a bullpen arm who has some end-of-game experience,” Zaidi told reporters before Tuesday’s contest with the Brewers. “We may look at unconventional ways; we’ll let things evolve.”
Skipper Dave Roberts specifically rolled out a few names when asked about the club’s need for a bonafide eighth inning arm, mentioning the newly acquired John Axford, Scott Alexander, JT Chargois and even the young Caleb Ferguson as options of forming the bridge to All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.
Logical thinking says the Dodgers can utilize the next few weeks to get a feel for how they want to build their postseason bullpen, if they do indeed clinch a playoff berth before the end of the regular season. Lefty Julio Urias made his first official rehab appearance yesterday, while southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu is scheduled to begin his road back to the bigs by starting a game at Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. Keeping in mind that arms like Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda have already proven to be worthy in relief, the possibilities are certainly vast for a postseason rebuild of the relief corps. Throw a healthy Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani into the mix, and the bullpen becomes even stronger.
Despite all that, the front office crew will undoubtedly leave no stone unturned when considering the possibility of a waiver deal. Before Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline, there were actually a handful of clubs who decided to hold strong, believing that there were still chances for them to creep into their respective playoff races. However, should those same clubs fall out of playoff contention over the coming weeks, they may decide to post some of their players on waivers, especially those who are slated to become free agents this winter. By doing so, these clubs could conceivably grab a few prospects in exchange for a player which they’d ultimately lose anyway.
The Nationals jump out as one of those clubs who may be dealing, as they currently have a 53-53 record sitting in third place, 5-1/2 games behind the division-leading Phillies. Righty reliever Kelvin Hererrera, who was acquired from the Royals mid-June, comes to mind straight away. The 28-year-old is set to become a free agent this offseason and may be one of those players the Nats elect to move, should they fall farther from the division lead. Additionally, lefty Sean Doolittle could be an option, even though he still has two more year of team control on his contract. Righty Shawn Kelley could be another possibility, as he was designated for assignment by Washington on Wednesday, one day after throwing a tantrum on the pitcher’s mound during a game.
While the options appear to be almost endless at this stage, there seems to be a lot of sorting out that needs to be done by the Dodgers over the coming weeks. They’ll need to optimize their starting rotation, in addition to piecing together a prospective postseason bullpen that has the potential for success. Still, if the club decides to stay put and not make any further roster additions, there’s no question that they’re one of the better clubs in the bigs on paper—at least in the National League.