While there has been a ton of news surrounding the Dodgers in the first month of the offseason, there really haven’t been many rumors regarding any prospective player trades. Some chatter, however, has suggested that Los Angeles management has been talking to its counterpart in Cleveland, potentially setting up one of the first big trades of the winter.
Several outlets have implied that the Indians are willing to listen on some of their starting pitching, most specifically Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, hoping to score a handful of young, talented and controllable players in return. The Indians have made it no secret that they desire outfielders, a commodity that the Dodgers have plenty to spare.
Ken Rosenthal has indicated that the Dodgers are intrigued by Cleveland’s willingness to barter such high quality pitching and that the inclusion of catcher Yan Gomes could conceivably make some type of deal a reality.
I happen to like Gomes, but if he were a left-handed hitter, I would like him a lot more. Offensively, Gomes is a downgrade from Yasmani Grandal—a .762 OPS vs. Grandal’s .815 OPS in 2018—but he’s a little more reliable with the glove and a bit more effective throwing out runners, although Grandal is still recognized among the best pitch-framers around the league.
Gomes, who’ll turn 32 in July, is under contract through 2021. His options after 2019 include a $1 million buyout or club options worth $9 million for 2020 and $11 million for 2021, a pact which would sit nicely with the Dodgers as they wait for Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz to prove they’re major league ready.
On the flip side of all the rumblings, I just don’t see the Dodgers sacrificing much to upgrade a returning rotation that guided the club to the 2018 World Series. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but the Los Angeles rotation is so deep that it had the need to relegate some pitchers, who otherwise would be mid-rotation stalwarts for other clubs, to the bullpen—most specifically Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Caleb Ferguson.
Thoughts about the early contributions of Julio Urias vary, but even without Urias in the rotation, a starting five of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Maeda has to be among the most well-rounded rotations in the majors. With guys like Urias, Stripling, Wood, Ferguson, Brock Stewart and Dennis Santana looming, there’s certainly enough depth to protect the club from injuries and to facilitate the teams propensity of maneuvering players onto the “phantom disabled list.”
If the Indians want to throw somebody like Kluber to the Dodgers for a minimal fee, that would be fantastic for Los Angeles. But it’s not going to happen. Why sacrifice a package of top-notch prospects for a starting pitcher when the same resources could be used to upgrade more critical areas of the roster like catcher and the bullpen?
Conversely, if Cleveland were to include with Gomes a reliever like Brad Hand, I’d consider putting an attractive trade package together—including a Top 5 prospect.
In the meantime, for Gomes alone, I think I’d offer up somebody like Jeren Kendall—who hit just .215/.300/.356 in nearly 500 PA in the hitter-friendly Cal League last year—packaged alongside someone similar to Brayan Morales. If the Indians would balk at Kendall, maybe slide in a Josh McLain or Andrew Toles as the centerpiece.
Relievers and an established catcher are the biggest needs for the 2019 Dodgers, and as attractive as it sounds, Los Angeles shouldn’t be distracted by the lure of an appealing starting pitcher, especially when the team already has one of the most formidable rotations in the bigs.