A Look at the National League West and 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

The 2021 MLB trade deadline week is upon us, and it will most likely go a long way in deciding which of three teams will win the NL West.

As of Monday, the San Francisco Giants are in first place of the division with a record of 62-37. The Dodgers are in second, two games out at 71-40. San Diego is in third, 5.5 games out of first with a record of 58-44.

Fans and media alike have been thinking the Giants were going to fade out of the first place spot and the Dodgers would once again take control of the NL West. That obviously has yet to happen. Even though the Giants are dealing with some key injuries, they keep on rolling. The Dodgers have been unable to overtake them partially because they are also dealing with a huge amount of injuries, and they are unable to get any sort of momentum going in head-to-head contests with the Giants.

As it stands right now, both Wild Card winners would come from the NL West, for the right to take on the NL West winner. The goal is to be the divisional winner, and be able to set your rotation how you’d like it through the playoffs while having home field advantage.

All three teams have been analyzing their rosters and the market for trades. The Padres were the first to pounce, trading for second baseman Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Things have been pretty quiet on the Giants front. They’ve been tied in rumors to be interested in Joey Gallo, Starling Marte, Bryan Reynolds, and were reportedly interested in Frazier also before he was dealt to the Padres. The outfield will be an area of focus for the Giants, an area the Dodgers are not necessarily looking to improve.

Pitching is what wins championships, and the Dodgers and Padres especially have been tied in trade rumors to every starter and bullpen piece who might be available. If one team is interested in a good pitcher, the other one is sure to be mentioned as also being interested.

Max Scherzer and José Berríos are the two top starters rumored to be available for trade. Scherzer has been on the radar for about the last month or so, watching to see if the Washington Nationals could attempt a run at a playoff spot. At 45-53, they are not and could deal their future Hall of Fame pitcher. However, even at age 37, Scherzer will require a sizable return, and the Nationals have been pretty hesitant to trade big name players in the past. Scherzer also has 10-5 rights, has the right to veto any trade, and reportedly would like to sign an extension with the team he is traded to.

Berríos is a new name on the market, reportedly now available after the Minnesota Twins and his teammate Byron Buxton were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension. This has apparently sent the Twins into sell mode. Both Berríos and Buxton have one year left after this on their current contracts.

Berríos is a 27-year-old right hander and is 7-5 on the season with a 3.48 ERA and 126 strikeouts. Scherzer is 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA, 142 strikeouts and a 0.89 WHIP.

For the Dodgers, acquiring a pitcher that either wants an extension or one that has another year of control is attractive. Clayton Kershaw’s contract ends after this season, Dustin May will still be recovering from Tommy John surgery next season, and it’s ever more likely that Trevor Bauer will not be returning to the Dodgers at all. With just three starters under control for next season, they could get a head start on 2022.

Expect the Dodgers to be tied to all the pitchers, and possibly not completing a trade until the last possible minute, as has been their MO the last few seasons. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman is particularly gifted at waiting out other teams to get the deal he wants.

It should be an interesting week, to say the least.

21 thoughts on “A Look at the National League West and 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

  1. Price and Gonsolin are beginning to stretch out to add innings and Gray showed his potential and pitched 4 solid innings. Hershiser was saying during the broadcast that it takes a young pitcher a few games to realize he does not have to be perfect and just pitch. Hershiser was very complementary to Gray’s pitch repertoire, a moving fastball, knuckle-type curve, slider, and change. Nelson came back last night and was very effective and has been a starter in the past and reportedly Knebel will be back along with Seager.
    With Seager returning the Dodgers will be stronger as Pujos has become a great right-handed hitter off the bench and starting against left-handed pitchers. They now know Lux at this point in his career can’t hit left-handed pitching period! Muncy and Taylor are having impressive years as are Turner, Pollock, and Smith.
    Next year after a grueling strike the Dodgers could have Buehler, Urias, Gonsolin, Gray, and Price as their starting rotation with Nelson and others attempting to fight for the position. I think the Dodgers will re-sign Kershaw as long as he is reasonable. Kershaw continues to be fragile and not as effective overall.
    It would be Kershaw, Buehler, Urias, Gonsolin, and Gray with Price and Nelson in long relief that looks good to me. Plus there are Minor league guys like Miller that are coming up fast.

    1. I think Gray has looked good, and will fight for a spot in the rotation next year. But as we’ve seen this year, there is never enough starting pitching. I believe Price would go back to long relief, and Nelson has been phenomenal out of the bullpen. One more starter would go a long way to appease some of those injury worries

      1. I agree but I doubt they can get anyone better than Gray or Nelson to fill the starting role without giving up double the amount. I want Ruiz to play for the Dodgers next year and for them to trade Barnes during the winter. A catching core of Smith and Ruiz with Smith being able to DH or play 3rd or ? would be an incredible catching core well into the future. The DH will be in play after the Player Contract. It’s best for the league, players, and fans. I wonder if Rios will be back next year? Shoulders can be a tough rehab and the throw from 3rd is a long one.
        I think Scherzer will want a huge new contract and the Nationals will want too much. The Dodgers have had a good trading relationship with Minnesota so Berrios might be possible. Heck, go for gold and trade for Berrios and Broxton.
        Were you as impressed as I was with Graterol’s innings last night? He had control even at 101 and more importantly threw a pitch at 85 that was effective! If that young man can control a lower speed pitch with movement he will be devastating and probably Kenley’s replacement next year.

      2. I didn’t personally get to watch him but if he has control of those pitches he would be an incredible closer. And so darn fun to watch too

      3. His exuberance is fun to see. Plus his potential is incredible. Next year isn’t Kahnle supposed to be back? With Treinen, Knebel, Graterol, and Kahnle the bullpen in 2022 looks pretty solid before they add the other guys. Bickford has been a pleasant surprise.

      4. Don’t forget Caleb Ferguson, also due back next year. Fergie was really coming into his own when he got hurt.

        At the beginning of the year, they were saying Kahnle might even make it back in September but I haven’t heard anything about that for the last few months.

      5. Exactly, with Ferguson available for long relief or starting the Dodgers will have plenty of options. Nelson could start. I know he has a history of injury & is out with a broken hand but I wonder if the Twins would trade Broxton and possibly Berrios?

      6. I could be wrong, but I think the Dodgers view Ferguson as strictly a short man now and don’t have any inclinations to make him a starter any longer.
        Sure, the Twins would trade Berrios and Buxton to us, but it would cost us more than any of us (including AF) would be willing to pay.

      7. And that is my point. What are the Dodgers willing to pay for players to add to this roster? A roster that even with May and Bauer gone is one of the best ones in baseball. Plus they won last year so the pressure is off. Not that they do not want to win but I truly doubt any real Dodger fan will blame them if they do not win this year with the tsunami of injuries, bad decisions (Bauer), or horrible years (Bellinger).
        Mookie being hurt and Bellinger losing his stroke and possibly his mind highlights the lack of outfield talent. Peters, Raley, Reks, and McKinney have not shown much beyond AAA journeyman status. Neuse too for that matter. Dodgers have some young A & AA position talent but are probably 2 years away.
        And yes I think Ferguson is probably a bullpen guy. But look what that does to the bullpen in 2022 its looks very impressive.

  2. You’re probably right, Andy, when you say the outfield is not too likely an area where Andrew will be looking to improve this week. After all, Mookie/Belli/AJ is a very nice outfield.

    On the other hand they started Raley and McKinney at two of the three outfield positions yesterday. Hardly a formula for success. We have no clue how long Mookie will be sidelined and once he returns no clue how much he’ll contribute. Belli will be back sooner probably, but will he come out of his batting funk any time soon?

    So maybe AF will surprise us and add a piece to the outfield this week along with the other additions he’s likely to make.

  3. Doubt the dodgers would want to go into a new season with that 5 even if Kershaw resigns. Kershaw, gray and Gonsolin are pretty iffy as are Price and Nelson for that matter. That’s the reason I’m sure he will.pull off a big trade this week. They always look at the future not withstanding this years.rotation problems. Doesn’t look like anyone on the farm that’s close except possibly gray.

    1. Gordon, did you watch Gray pitch? This young man has talent! As far as the rest of the guys Urias has been great this year as has Buehler. Gonsolin has slowly been coming back from a shoulder issue and showed what he could do last year. I would simply stretch out Nelson if needed he has been a very solid starter in the past. There are several young guys in the minors. and as I said Miller is rising fast. I really like Pepiot. If you have a very good Farm Team what is the point of it if you do not use it?
      I really doubt Bauer is back but we shall see. The US justice system is as corrupt as a Banana Republic when someone has 10’s of millions of dollars. In my experience, women are not treated failrly overall but especially in sexual battery cases.

      1. I hardly ever make judgments based on 4 innings though grey has a strong pedigree. I was always suspicious why he wasn’t brought until they ran out of discards on the waiver claims and were basically forced into it. I know the injury but they were very reluctant the past 2 season’s. The first 3 month means nothing unless your name is Fernando.Tell Me how great Grey is next June.. My point was kersh probably won’t be back, May is unlikely and Beuhler is the only one with a track record. We could be very thin next April. I have no idea how they will get rid of Bauer next year, unless he goes to jail. He’s not going to walk from his contract now.

      2. I understand not wanting to anoint Gray as a starter in 2022 or this year. I believe he is a better answer than most of the “Inning Eaters” they can overpay for this year.
        I believe Kershaw will finish his career as a Dodger.
        It is speculated the Bauer contract has the usual ethical conduct or morality type verbiage to allow them to cut his contract. If the Pasadena Police department comes up with a solid case then he is probably done as an MLB player. Reportedly the complainant asked Bauer after the incident what he did to her while she was out and he told her via text. If that is true he is in real jeopardy. Those texts were not released.
        Do not forget Urias he is 12-3 and could easily be 14-3 if saves were not blown. I think Gonsolin is better than you give him credit for and Price is still with the club in 2022. So 2022 could be Kershaw, Buehler, Urias, Gonsolin, with Price, Gray, and others competing for the rotation slot before winter trades. I wonder if they will give Pepiot or even Miller a shot next year. Miller is 23 next year and Pepiot 24 so about right age-wise. Gray is 23.

      3. Why do you think Kershaw won’t be back? Everything I’ve seen is that they want to make him a Dodger for life

      4. Those are my feelings also Andy. I expect to see CK retire a Dodger but I think he’s got at least 2-3 years left in him. Yes, it’s getting to the point where he misses part of every season, but he’s still better than the great majority of starters in MLB, even with the games he misses every year.
        I think he and Andrew have a good enough relationship that they won’t have a problem coming to a compromise on a contract going forward. Although, when I saw what AF paid Bauer, my immediate thought on the day he signed was “how will this affect the re-signing of Kershaw”?

        The only thing I could see stopping him would be if this elbow/forearm problem turns into TJ surgery. That might get him to retire.

      5. A couple thoughts I have on Kershaw-
        I think he knows it’s special to stay with one organization your entire career.
        He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to push for more money, especially now that’s he’s older and not what he once was. I think he’ll take a team friendlier contract this time.
        If they win it all this time, I would hate it but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him retire early.

      6. I could be very wrong but I don’t see him retiring even if they win it all this year.
        He’s just too much of a competitor to walk away at the age of 33. If he lives to be 75, he’s still got over 40 years left to do whatever he wants after baseball. I say if he’s healthy, he’ll be back no matter how the season ends.

      7. Awhile ago I wouldn’t have thought about him retiring early. Just some of his comments over the last offseason lead me to believe he’s thinking more about the end. You’re probably right, he most likely won’t. But it wouldn’t shock me if he did

  4. Tmaxster I agree ” innings eater ” in itself is ridiculous . They are usually talking about a guy who can go 6 and only give up 5 runs? I’d rather see the young guys get exposed to the big. Kershaw wasn’t great the first year but he was 23 and you could see the skill.
    Bauer. Morality clause? He’d sue their ass. And win. Only the courts can get them out of this. Or the dodgers take a 100 mil hit. Or he plays.
    Not sure Kershaw is a la guy. And la has to control their payroll.

    1. Remember the Union contract is over at the end of this year. I predict there will be a long strike because the Players are not going to agree to penalize teams for paying players or taking away draft picks unless they get Huge concessions. The Players and Owners do not trust or respect each other by all reports. Unless the owners relent it’s going to be a long bitter strike.
      The Competetive Balance idea was used to profit the small markets and was generally not used to help the teams become more competitive and pay small market players instead the owners took the money.
      Read the commentaries on the legal aspects of the Bauer case. Apparently, there are clauses in it that state reasons for breaking the contract. The case against Bauer might be so toxic even the Players Union will walk away. According to an article in the LA Times, the Dodger Players do not want Bauer back. We all have Mothers, Aunts, Daughters, etc that we are devoted to. Guys like Bauer are toxic people and I will never support someone like that. I am sure many of the Dodgers think the same.
      We shall see…They moved the hearing to August and I wonder why? Dodgers really are hung up until they know how this will go. According to the LA Times Dodgers now owe Bauer $75 Million.

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