4 Reasons Why Dodgers Might ‘Stay Put’ at 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

(Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

After Saturday night’s 1-0 victory over the Rockies, the Dodgers find themselves maintaining a stronghold on the second-place spot in the National League West with a tidy 60-40 record. Heading into Sunday’s games, Los Angeles trails the struggling first-place Giants by two games. The Dodgers have 62 contests remaining on their regular season schedule.

The 2021 MLB Trade Deadline is less than a week away.

Without question, the narrative for the Dodgers for the entirety of the year has revolved around injuries. From the earliest days of the season, some fans have been thinking to themselves how good this team would be when it finally returned to full strength. However, that day has never really arrived, as one injury always appears to lead into a carousel of others.

Other fans have shifted their thoughts to the summer deadline, wondering if the organization has any plans to upgrade its player roster. Aside from the minor acquisition of Billy McKinney last week, things have been relatively quiet. Nevertheless, as we all know, for as much as a team might want to upgrade, it takes two sides to reach a deal. Sometimes it’s impossible to agree on a mutual barter, especially since the Dodgers have a plentiful crop of young, lower-level prospects that many other organizations envy.

Regardless, even if the Dodgers don’t make any significant moves by next weekend, here are four reasons how improved player health might propel them back to the top of the division before season’s end.

Mookie Betts

From July 8-19, Mookie Betts went a ridiculous 14-for-26 with three homers, four doubles, eight runs scored and 13 RBI. However, he hasn’t appeared in a game since then because of a hip issue that’s been bothering him all year. The current plan is to have the superstar back in the lineup against the Giants next week.

“The goal, the hope is still to have him play on Tuesday in San Francisco, but it’s still day to day,” manager Dave Roberts said this weekend. “I know he wants to get in there, but the pain is just not allowing for him to be in there.”

(Update 4:00 pm, Sunday: Betts officially placed on 10-day injured list, meaning he won’t be available for the beginning of the San Francisco series)

The Dodgers might be able to survive without Betts against some of the worst teams in the league, but his absence against the better ones is obvious.

Corey Seager

Still recovering from a broken hand, at one point there was still a plan in place for Corey Seager to return to the majors in the home series against San Francisco last week, but there wasn’t quite enough improvement to convince the training staff he was back to 100%. As of now, no timetable for a return is definite, but manager Dave Roberts indicated this weekend that Seager will be seeing some action at Camelback Ranch while his teammates face the Giants on the road.

Having last year’s NLCS and World Series MVP back on the field would undoubtedly be huge for the Dodgers, specifically from an offensive perspective. With all the main contributors healthy, a lineup could look something like this:

  • Betts RF
  • Seager SS
  • Turner 3B
  • Muncy 1B
  • Smith C
  • Taylor 2B
  • Pollock LF
  • Bellinger CF

Clayton Kershaw

The starting rotation might be the area where the team needs the most help. When Clayton Kershaw was placed on the injury list with forearm inflammation before the All-Star break, the rotation was decimated, as it was pared down to just two reliable starters at the time. Kershaw’s return could provide a huge boost to the unit.

While his 3.39 ERA this season is his highest since his rookie campaign back in 2008, his respectable 2.98 FIP, 0.978 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 indicate he’s still among the most effective starters in the majors. Likewise, his eight-inning, 13-strikeout gem against the Cubs in late June suggests he has plenty of firepower in the tank.

Kersh threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. His next step is to pitch an abbreviated sim game on Tuesday. After that test, it will be determined if he needs a rehab stint or if he can be immediately slotted back into the rotation.

Jimmy Nelson/Corey Knebel

Two key returns by Los Angeles relievers could theoretically be as good as any marginal trade the team might make before the deadline.

After throwing a successful bullpen on Thursday, swingman Jimmy Nelson appears to be ready to rejoin the team. According to reports, the best-case scenario has the righty returning for the finale against the Rockies on Sunday.

Should Nelson need a few more days, the opener against the Giants on Tuesday might be more realistic.

Before being placed on the injured list with a lumbar strain, Nelson had tallied an even 2.00 ERA, 1.79 FIP and a 0.926 WHIP with 41 punchouts over 25 appearances and 27 innings of work.

Corey Knebel also threw a session on Thursday, his second of the week. The 29-year-old righty plans on starting a comprehensive rehab assignment as early as this week.

“I want to make sure I’m ready to go and it’s not going to be get up here and throw, then have to take two days off,” Knebel said last Thursday. “I want to make sure that I’m going to get here and throw every day if I have to.”

25 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why Dodgers Might ‘Stay Put’ at 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

  1. “While his 3.39 ERA this season is his lowest since his rookie campaign”
    I think you meant to say his highest ERA since his rookie season, Dennis.

    Andrew definitely has some difficult decisions to make this week. If he does nothing, that might leave a bad taste in the clubhouse with the guys thinking he hasn’t done anything to support them. If he brings in a few players and we actually get back most of our injured stars, where will there be room for the guys we trade for? This is the week every year that I’m glad I’m not Andrew Friedman.

    Over the past couple of weeks I was thinking our most important task was to bring in another starter, but in their last starts, both Price and Catman looked very good. If Kershaw returns healthy in the next couple weeks and if Gray looks good in his next couple starts, well, maybe we have enough.

    On the other hand, I definitely think we need a lock down reliever. Kenley just can’t be depended upon to be consistent and apparently they don’t want to use Treinen in the closer’s role, preferring to put him into situations where the need is greatest, no matter which inning that might be. Kimbrel, Rodriguez and probably Hand are available. We need to get one of them for the back end of our very inconsistent pen.

    1. Thanks for the edit. I just don’t see Friedman making a big splash. For as undependable as Kenley’s been, I don’t think there are many available options who are better. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. If Knebel comes back like gangbusters, maybe he can be an option to close if needed.

      1. Knebel certainly could be an option as closer but we won’t know about him until after the deadline.

        I know that the one position that AF has the hardest time paying for (in $ or especially in prospects) is the bullpen, but I still think we need one more good piece there, even assuming that Nelson and Knebel come back healthy, Kenley is mostly good, and there aren’t any more injuries. And that, in itself, is one hell of an assumption.

      2. If Kersh comes back healthy, then either Gray, Price or eventually Gonsolin could theoretically move back to relief. That’s a little bit of a boost.

      3. Definitely. But none of those three are what I would consider to be a closer. All the stats show that Kenley’s performance tanks when he’s used on multiple days. We need one other guy.

      4. I know Roberts doesn’t like using Treinen to close, but from a roster-building perspective you’d think there’d be plenty of saves to be had between Jansen, Treinen and a healthy Knebel.

      1. I’m really disappointed that JT isn’t getting a rest day. Day game after a night game and all. Neuse can play third. JT should have this day to relax.

      2. He looks relaxed to me. 3 0fers in his last 5, so he’s not been overworked. But, Neuse is overdue so I see your logic.

    1. Doesn’t look like a dynamic run-producing line-up! Hoping a few guys actually decide to fight for their right to be in the Show. McKinney, Raley, and Gray need to man up and McKinstry needs to start to produce he has really tailed off.

  2. I have continually doubted that Friedman would make an unbalanced trade as all the GMs in the league feel he needs to make one so they are probably asking for double the value. Friedman is an ex-Wallstreet guy and you never trade from weakness.
    Friedman knows his lineup and the state of his injured pitchers and players. We do not.
    Both Price and Gonsolin have as Dennis says been improving and slowly stretching out to get more innings. If they can both start to go a solid 6 innings then most of the starting problems are solved especially with Nelson coming back & Kershaw back soon. I like what we saw from Gray he simply needs to clean up a few pitches. If they give him some innings I am sure he will help the team. If Jansen’s velocity is up he is generally good but he has been very erratic, I am not a fan of him as the all-powerful OZ Oh I mean closer… Knebel coming back could help tremendously. Treinen has been good and hopefully, Kelly can stay healthy. Getting Kershaw, Seager, & Knebel back should help this team tremendously.
    They are only 2 back and that is amazing with all the injuries. We are all watching the Bauer news. I wonder if he will be back this year. Any thoughts on that? They pushed off his hearing until August. Very informative article on Bauer’s situation in the LA Times this morning, it does not look good for him.

    1. Who knows how long it will take to resolve this Bauer thing. That has got to really hamper Andrew in terms of planning for the rest of the season, both pitching wise and payroll wise. Just one more roadblock on the way to another WS.

      Nelson has just been activated and Mookie goes to the IL, so we’ll be going into SF on Tuesday with no Mookie, no Seager and possibly no Bellinger. But hey, the Pirates can handle the Giants with a AAA lineup so why not us?

      1. Retroactive to Thursday so he will be out another week. Still no Seager, so, JV’s in the lineup again.

      2. Too bad about Mookie hopefully he can rest and the inflammation goes down, a sore hip or back is not to be messed with. Getting Nelson back with Price and Gonsolin improving helps a lot. I actually think they should send Bellinger down to OKC to shake him up a bit. He continually attempts to hit into the shift and his numbers are horrible. Yes, he is a great defender but this strikeout followed by pop-ups then strikeout routine is getting old. If anyone reads the LA Times article today it does not sound good for Bauer. I think he will miss the year. If that happens I wonder if the Dodgers could or would attempt to void his contract. Do the Dodgers know if May makes it back mid-year in 2022? He had his operation so early in the year I am curious about his timeline.

    1. Good pickup for the Padres. Looks like Kim has not worked out for them.
      Gray had a solid 4 innings of work for us so he is getting there.
      McKinney has walked twice so he has got on base good for him. Raley is showing his prowess with two more strikeouts. Neuse has an at-bat and a strikeout. 2-2 bottom of the 8th.

    2. I really don’t know how Preller does it.
      Of the 3 prospects he gave up, 2 of them weren’t even in the Pads top 30. The other one, a young shortstop was rated 5th on the MLB/Pipeline list and 11th on the Fangraphs list. Frazier is leading the league in hits. I guess Cherington really likes that shortstop, otherwise, why not wait a few more days to see what desperate teams might offer.

      Starting pitching, relief pitching and outfield are all considered more of a necessity than another infielder was by most people so I can hardly wait to see what else Preller comes up with by Friday.

      1. With a trade like that, you can certainly see why the Pirates are a lower-echelon team. They trade an All-Star 2nd baseman for not much…

      2. Let’s just say it’s not much today. Always hard to judge a trade involving prospects until 3-4 years down the road. I had no respect for previous Pirates front office people, but I do respect Ben Cherrington, so although I’m surprised here I’m willing to wait to see how it all plays out.

        Let’s meet here in November of 2024 TMax and I’ll give you my final opinion of this trade.

      3. OK, I hope we are both still above the ground! Trading a guy that can actually make that kind of contact for so little is certainly eye-opening. Look at Lux, Raley, Neuse, Reks, Peters, etc, and lately Bellinger they can’t hit the damn ball!!

      4. Mariners supposedly hot after Merrifield. I think I’d rather have him than Frazier, but it will probably cost a lot more.

      5. As 2022 is Taylor’s contract year what kind of contract can he get? He has been incredible this year and he stays on the field! To me, Taylor has more value than Seager because he does not get injured and plays everywhere and does it well. Boras and Seager should be able to hear the potential $ and years dropping as Seager misses more games. A bit like Broxton in Minnesota he is a great player but continues to get hurt every year.

      6. I can’t imagine that AF would let Taylor leave but I have no idea what kind of contract he might be able to get (either in dollars or years). Somehow, guys like Seager are valued much more highly than “utility” players such as CT3, but Taylor might very well be the team MVP this year.

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