Whether the management crew of the Dodgers is prepared to admit it or not, the bullpen is continuing to prove itself as the weakest link on an otherwise very talented ballclub. Monday night’s loss to the Angels was another example of how the relief corps imploded, as it surrendered four combined runs in the seventh and eighth innings, spoiling a very fine outing by Hyun-Jin Ryu.
While they certainly won’t be advertising it openly, Andrew Friedman and his troops will be performing their due diligence regarding this summer’s trade market. Friedman always makes at least a few minor moves, and this summer should be no different. It’s imporatant to remeber that this year, waiver trades will no longer exist through the end of August, setting up the July 31 non-waiver deadline to be highly momentous for many teams around the MLB.
Without beating around the bush, here are three relief arms the Dodgers could conceivably target, and all three just conveniently happen to be left-handers:
Will Smith—Giants In the past, many general managers have shown tendencies to avoid trading within their respective divisions, but rival and former Dodger GM Farhan Zaidi recently went on record explaining why it may be advantageous (read Andy’s column from last week here).
One may think the Dodgers are already stocked with plenty of lefty relievers (see Scott Alexander, Julio Urias and Caleb Ferguson); however, the problem is that Los Angeles lacks an elite southpaw reliever.
Will Smith could be that guy.
So far this season, Smith has thrown 24-2/3 innings over 25 appearances, producing an impressive 2.19 ERA, a 1.97 FIP, a ridiculous 0.730 WHIP and a 12.8 K/9. The problem is that while the 29-year-old journeyman will become a free agent at the end of this year, Farhan might still demand a extremely hefty return.
Brad Hand—Indians Cleveland lefty Brad Hand wasn’t necessarily on my personal radar, but those who come here regularly for the commenting dialogue have certainly been talking about Hand in a big kind of way.
Arguably, Hand’s performance this year has been even better than Smith’s. Through 29 appearances, the 29-year-old Hand has posted a 0.97 ERA, a 1.70 FIP and a 13.0 K/9. Furthermore, Hand’s current contract is much more team-friendly. He’s under control through 2020 with an optional team buyout in 2021.
Hovering right around the .500 mark, the Indians currently trail the Twins by 10-1/2 games in the AL Central; yet, if The Tribe is able to wiggle itself into Wild-Card contention near the deadline, Hand will likely be a name that quickly disappears from the rumor mill.
Felipe Vazquez—Pirates Felipe Vazquez was one of the relievers we were mulling over when we put together our first hypothetical trade proposal last November at the beginning of the 2018-19 offseason.
The 27-year-old Vazquez made his first-ever All-Star squad in 2018, posting 37 saves, a 2.43 FIP, and an 11.4 K/9 after throwing an even 70 innings over 70 appearances. He’s under control through 2021, including team options for both the 2022 and 2023 seasons. This year, the native of Venezuela is earning $4,5 million, which includes a partial payment of his signing bonus.
So far in 2019, Vasquez has thrown 27-1/3 innings over 25 appearances, posting a 2.30 ERA, a 2.52 FIP and a 14.2 K/9.