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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.

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